Weigh in on Camas’ financial future

City to hold public hearing Nov. 19 on $195M 2019-20 budget

Worried about whether or not the city will hire firefighters in the coming years? Staunchly opposed to the implementation of utility taxes in Camas? Unhappy with maintenance levels at your local parks? Just want to know more about your city’s proposed budget?

The Camas City Council will hold a public hearing on the mayor’s proposed 2019-20 budget, at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 19, at Camas City Hall.

The hearing will resume at the council’s Monday, Dec. 3 meeting — the date councilors are expected to adopt the biennial budget.

The proposed $195 million budget is a 30-percent increase over the $150 million 2017-18 city budget, and includes significant appropriations to the city’s water and sewer departments, a Legacy Lands project along Lacamas Lake, and the Camas-Washougal Fire Department.

Following are a few highlights from the proposed 2019-20 budget:
New firefighters: The recommended budget includes plans to hire four firefighter-paramedics for 2019-20 and one deputy fire marshal.

New firefighters have been asking city leaders to increase staffing levels at the Camas-Washougal Fire Department since a Feb. 14 fire in Northwest Camas, which resulted in too few firefighters responding to an active house fire and the rescue of a Camas man and his two dogs. The state later fined the city $4,800, and said the fire department had violated workplace safety guidelines by sending two instead of three firefighters to the fire alarm call. The city is still appealing the state’s ruling. The new hires would cost the city an additional $459,515 in 2019, with annual costs for the four firefighters’ salaries, benefits and gear.

New parks employees: The city plans to hire two new, full-time parks maintenance workers. There also is capital funding going toward various park work over 2019-20, including investments in the city’s open spaces, trail upgrades, skatepark improvements, North Shore conservation lands and Crown Park improvements.

New police officers: The mayor’s budget recommends hiring two new police officers at a cost of $327,388 in 2019 and annual costs associated with the officers’ salaries and benefits, with costs being offset by higher traffic and parking fines.

Editor’s Note: The proposed 2019-20 budget does not include any utility tax increases. Due to a reporting error, this information was incorrect in an article published in the Nov. 15, 2018 Camas-Washougal Post-Record. The Post-Record regrets the error.