Port Angeles City Council restores partial nonprofit funding

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — The roughly $124.3 million 2013 budget for Port Angeles has been approved by the City Council after more than half of the money aimed at 15 city nonprofits — once set to evaporate next year — was restored.

Council members voted 6-0, with Councilman Max Mania absent, to approve the city’s 2013 budget, which City Manager Dan McKeen presented to the council for review in October.

The 2013 budget as approved Tuesday contains the city’s
$97.7 million operating fund, which in turn includes the city’s $18.7 million general fund.

The general fund, which pays for most of the costs associated with the city’s departments, is down $1 million from 2012, a
5 percent decrease.

Overall, the $97.7 million operating fund has risen 4 percent since last year, due mostly to the increases in electric utility costs passed to the city from the Bonneville Power Administration, from which the city buys its electricity.

McKeen had to grapple with an $840,000 budget deficit for 2013, which was filled mostly through reductions in employee-related costs and the elimination of eight staff positions — six through not filling vacant spots and two through layoffs.

The remainder of the
$124.3 million is made up of costs associated with the city’s ongoing and planned capital projects, roughly $26.5 million for 2013.

City Council members in late November approved a 1 percent property tax increase, as allowed by state law without a popular vote.

The city expects the increase to bring in about $41,000 more than this year to city coffers.

The city expects to bring in roughly $4.2 million in property tax revenue for 2013.

Tuesday’s vote followed the final public hearing on the 2013 budget, which saw comment from residents lauding the council’s relatively last-minute decision to restore $30,000 of the $56,250 the city historically has given to 15 nonprofits that offer health and human services to the city’s low-income, elderly and mental and physically challenged populations.

Resident Peter Ripley, speaking at the public hearing, thanked council members for not eliminating the city’s funding to the nonprofits, which had been slated for the chopping block.

“I want to first thank you and congratulate you on a job well done,” Ripley said.

“I’m glad to see you take the hint.”

Jody Moss, executive director of the United Way of Clallam County, which administers the city’s health and human services funding, told council members she was glad to see the funding at least partially restored but assured council members she will continue to ask for additional nonprofit funding in the coming years.

“I’m here actually to thank you very much,” Moss said at the meeting. “I hope that over time, you’re able to add to it a little bit more.”

At the council meeting, Finance Director Byron Olson said the city would be steering an unexpected $28,000 — comprising new construction tax revenue and a property tax refund from Clallam County — toward health and human services plus $1,000 that council members agreed last week to trim from their travel and training budget at a work session.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Dan Di Guilio, who originally supported cutting the council’s travel and training budget by $2,000, reiterated that point, saying the council should be willing to make deeper cuts just as the city’s other departments are.

“I’m almost embarrassed to say we’re only willing to reduce our budget by $1,000,” Di Guilio said.

Di Guilio then moved to reduce the council’s travel and training budget by $2,000 — a move the entire council supported — bringing the full contribution to health and human services to $30,000.

The $2,000 reduction from the travel and training budget brings the council’s entire budget down to $66,800 for 2013, a 2.7 percent decrease from 2012.

In a Wednesday interview, Deputy Mayor Brad Collins said he was always in favor of reducing the council’s budget by $2,000 and encouraged Di Guilio to broach the issue again at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I’m very much in support of [Di Guilio’s] position,” Collins said.

Collins, an employee of Serenity House, one of nonprofits that historically has received funding from the city, did not discuss health and human services funding during the Tuesday council meeting and remained silent during the vote, though he said his silence was taken as a yes vote, per council procedure.

“I didn’t abstain,” Collins said. “I probably should have.”

Di Guilio once served on the United Way of Clallam County board and worked until 2009 for Olympic Community Action Programs, which historically has received funding from the city.

Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 05. 2012 5:57PM
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