Buckley City Council splits 4-2 on budget

The Buckley City Council split 4-2 Dec. 13 on a 2012 budget that looks to keep the city afloat for another 12 months, without the cutting of any major services.

“Basically, the only cut that was made for next year is the amount of hours which the youth center will be opened,” City Administrator Dave Schmidt said, “but that is working on the assumption that we are going to keep the Buckley jail up and running, going to be getting our usual excise tax returns from the city of Buckley’s liquor sales back from the state and going to be maintaining our newly revamped state-of-the-art 911 facility.”

Schmidt said the statewide Initiative 1183 and Pierce County legislation regarding 911 services will negatively impact small cities like Buckley.

Buckley has planned to expend about $17 million against projected revenues in the neighborhood of $20 million. Schmidt was quick to point out, however, “the revenue projections are just that…projections.”

With the dubious condition of the economy in the city, county, state and nation, Schmidt said times are tough on cities everywhere.

“There is no longer a safety net and we are struggling week-to-week, month-to-month to simply exist,” he said. “We are running on future projections and a bare bones budget in which there are no guarantees.”

He said the administration and council did all it could to avoid cutting services to citizens.

Not all on the council supported the proposed 2012 budget when it came time to adopt.

James Montgomery and Doug Harple voted “no” on the spending plan.

Prior to the vote, Harple offered a dissenting view.

“I have concerns regarding the proposed budget for the upcoming year,” he said. “Many cities across the state and country have had to make major administrative cuts to adopt a budget that will get them through the upcoming year. Those have included pay cuts, departmental reductions in hours and even layoffs. I believe we have not yet done enough within this budget to reduce spending in the upcoming year.”

Harple pointed out that during the coming year Buckley plans to hire a new communications manager and a part-time clerk, promote two employees, add stipends for the building official and provide cost-of-living adjustments for employees.

“Yet, 2012 will bring proposals to increase utility usage charges, increase property taxes and even the adding of a $20 car tab fee on the people of this community,” Harple said. “We need to build and move forward with a budget that tightens the belt on spending and makes cuts where necessary to get through these tough times.

“We cannot expect the citizens of this community to carry the burden time and time again.”

Other items covered in this final city council meeting of 2011 included:

• The swearing in of one of the three newly elected city councilmen, Bryan Howard, who was included in the vote to approve the 2012 budget. He voted affirmatively, along with Jan Twardowski, Melissa Patson and Christie Boyle-Barrett.

• The presentation of a plaque by Buckley Mayor Pat Johnson, recognizing the years of service put forth by councilwomen Twardowski and Patson.

• An agreement between Buckley and Wilkeson, which will extend the service contract of the Buckley police department to the city of Wilkeson. The hours of service to Wilkeson will be reduced to 25 per month and the cost will be dropped to $35,000 per year.

• The city asked for approval of the newly developed 2012-13 Police Guild Bargaining Unit contract. Schmidt made specific mention of the fact that the negotiations were completed in a “positive and forward-looking fashion” with the local law enforcement officers consenting to pay a higher percentage of their health insurance benefits.


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