Camas proposes its first biennial budget

Document includes increase in fee, levy rates

The city of Camas recently released its first biennial budget.

The City Council will discuss the $130.13 million 2015-16 budget during its next workshop Monday, Nov. 3, and possibly again Monday, Nov. 10. A public hearing is set for Monday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m., at City Hall, 616 N.E. Fourth Ave.

The City Council will have the opportunity to discuss and then decide on a series of 35 “operating decision packages,” and 35 “capital decision packages” that are part of the budget.

Among the line items are five new staff positions.

They include the restoration of a police officer position, which is expected to cost $54,585 in 2015 and $87,862 in 2016, and the hiring of a programmer/network analyst, expected to cost $55,000 in 2015 and $103,000 in 2016.

A plans examiner/inspector would also be hired in 2015 at a cost of $57,871 that year, and $102,854 in 2016.

Funding is also proposed for two administrative assistants, one for the Camas-Washougal Fire Marshal’s office at a cost to Camas of $35,014 in 2015 and $36,088 in 2016 (Washougal also pays a portion), and another for the public works department at a cost of approximately $70,000 per year.

Other proposed projects include:

o In 2015 and 2016, dedicating approximately $270,000 per year to replace existing water meters with radio meters, an action intended to save staff time and resources.

“What we are hoping to do is have all of the meters throughout the city replaced with radio meters, so we don’t have to send out four guys over three days to read every meter in the city,” said Finance Director Cathy Huber Nickerson. “The technology is available where you can drive through the city and get the reads quickly.”

o Extending Camas Municipal Pool hours to be open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. During the next two years, this would cost an additional $80,000, an amount that would be offset in part by pool revenues.

o Funding the design of a master plan for Crown Park, to replace the current swimming pool and add a community building. The cost for the master plan, paid for with park impact fees, would be $275,000.

o Dedicating $400,000 to build a neighborhood park in the Drewf’s Farm subdivision.

o Adding approximately $26,850 per year to the Camas-Washougal Fire Department’s firefighter and emergency medical technician training budget. Camas would be responsible for $16,835 of that cost; Washougal would pay the rest.

“During the lowest part of the recession, our training budget dropped down to about $3,500, when it was normally at about $48,000,” said Fire Chief Nick Swinhart. “Over the last few years, we have built that back up slowly, but it’s still below that historical high point.

“(The 2015-16 budget) not only puts us above that historical high, it allows us to conduct the proper amount of training that we need to do, not necessarily just what is required.”

o Upgrading all city street lighting to LED. This one-time $2.5 million capital project would be funded through a combination energy grant, Clark Public Utilities rebate and a portion of the proceeds from a limited general obligation bond that was approved by the City Council earlier this year.

Funding in the budget is also proposed for a few initial infrastructure and planning projects to serve land north of Lacamas Lake, referred to as the North Urban Growth Area. Monies would support installing a water line ($150,000), embarking on a arterial roadway study ($75,000) and conducting a storm basin analysis ($150,000).

Fee increases are factored into budget

A revenue stream for the budget starting in 2015 could be an increase in the cost of fees. The city is proposing to boost existing fees by 2 percent, then look at them in more detail next year.

“We want to make sure they (support) the services they are designed to cover, as well as making sure that they’re on par with what other jurisdictions are doing,” Huber Nickerson said.

It is estimated that the fee adjustment would bring in an additional $74,000 in revenue in both 2015 and 2016.

The budget also includes a 1 percent increase in the city’s regular property tax levy. It is expected to raise an additional $100,000 in 2015 and $200,000 in 2016.

This is the first time the city is embarking on a budget that plans for two years, instead of just one.

City Council must approve its 2015-16 budget by the end of 2014.

The proposed budget is available online at www.cityofcamas.us/finance.

Please review our community guidelines