Enumclaw City Council adopts 2012 budget

Making just a few last-minute changes, members of the Enumclaw City Council adopted a 2012 operating budget Monday night.

As was the case all across the state, the process wasn't an easy one, as the ongoing economic downturn took its toll.

"This has been a very, very difficult budget season," Mayor Liz Reynolds said. "We had our ups and downs, but I think we handled it pretty well."

The budget passed by a 6-1 margin, with outgoing council member Rich Elfers taking a philosophical, opposing stance.

Stating his belief that the 2012 spending plan does not emphasize the city's core services, Elfers cast the lone dissenting vote.

Councilman Sean Krebs had made it clear he would bring some suggestions to the table Monday night, so it was no surprise when he suggested the city allocate $5,000 to the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce. The money is to be used during the first quarter of the year for the chamber-operated visitor center. Krebs also suggested the council continue subsidizing the chamber's rent on a portion of a city-owned building on Cole Street. Finally, Krebs asked that $4,000 be awarded to Green River Community College so GRCC experts can assist local businesses.

"We're just trying to buy a little time," Krebs said of the visitor center request. During the early part of 2012, he explained, the chamber and city will have discussions regarding the long-term operation of the visitor center.

Krebs' budget suggestions passed 6-1, with Elfers rejecting the requests.

Elfers said he had submitted a list of questions to the chamber following the council's Nov. 28 meeting, but had not received a reply. He also questioned whether the chamber was current on its rent payments to the city.

"In good conscience, I cannot fund the chamber in this amount," Elfers said.

On another budgetary matter, the council took the final, anticipated step to pay for the public library in a nontraditional manner. The library will get $350,000 from the Fund 180 portion of the city budget, a pot of money that stems from the sale of property and collection of leases on city land. It's seen as a one-time alternative, as the city will ask voters to annex into the King County Library System during an upcoming election.

Traditionally, the library has been supported by the city's general fund. That contribution has been whittled in recent years, however, as the struggle to match revenues with expenditures grew more difficult.

The council also agreed to contracts with three employee groups during its Monday session.

The largest entity is represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. That group represents workers in finance, parks, utilities, courts, the library, golf course, senior center and Enumclaw Expo Center.

The two-year pact will save the city a reported $94,000. Employees will take two furlough days each year without pay and will receive no cost-of-living adjustment. A new insurance plan will see employees paying higher premiums while experiencing greater annual deductibles.

The council also approved contracts with the Police Officers Association and a separate group that includes police dispatchers and jail employees.

Specifics weren't addressed, but Reynolds thanked all involved for "becoming part of the solution."

Elfers noted that police had made some "very painful concessions."

In other action during Tuesday's meeting, the council:

• said goodbye to Elfers and Jeff Beckwith, who are leaving their posts on the council, and Bob Baer, the city's director of community services.

In his role, Baer oversees the public library, the Enumclaw Senior Activity Center and the Youth and Family Services Center. He has been with the city for more than three decades and will be retiring at the end of December.

Elfers served four years on the council, losing his re-election bid in November. Beckwith chose not to run again, having served the city for the past 15 years – six as a member of the Park Board and the past nine on the council.

• adopted a contract authorizing Enumclaw to operate municipal court services for the city of Maple Valley for one more year.

There is a major change in the rate this time around. For years, Enumclaw has charged an hourly rate that covers all its costs. For 2012, Enumclaw will pad the bill by an additional 10 percent to cover some of the incidental costs that have not been part of the formal contract.

Krebs, who pushed for the "cost-plus" contract, said City Hall suffers some degree of wear and tear due to a Maple Valley court operation that provides no direct benefit to Enumclaw citizens. The contract is for just one year, as Maple Valley intends to examine its court options during 2012.

• reappointed citizens to five boards and commissions: Vivian Froemke and Ralph Zech to the Cemetery Board; Aaron Brenner and Beth Coppin-Cross to the Human Services Advisory Board; Celia Bender and Pat Fisk to the Arts Commission; Jan Molinaro and Jerry Metcalf to the Civil Service Commission; and David Hancock to the Planning Commission.

• noted that City Hall offices will be closed Dec. 26 and Jan. 2, in observance of the Christmas and New Year's holidays.


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