News

Sumner faces cuts to balance the budget

a $2.3 million deficit

By Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald

The Sumner city staff and Mayor Dave Enslow recently painted a picture of the city budget for 2009 and 2010 and it isn’t pretty.

The first outline of the budget was presented at an Oct. 8 special meeting.

Sumner faces a $2.3 million deficit if no action is taken, which according to the staff, means cuts equalling 11 percent.

City Administrator John Doan noted Sumner has been in a good financial position for the past eight years based on growth and retails sales, but the gravy days have ended.

The general fund receives 47 percent of its funds from sales tax. With the sale of cars, trucks, tractors and furniture at a low point, the city’s budget has taken an enormous hit.

Enslow said in a press release that raising property taxes is not the answer.

“Although this budget will be tough on us,” Enslow wrote. “This isn’t the time to fix our bumps by passing it along to our citizens.”

With a hike in property taxes off the board, the only solution is cuts and increases in fees.

The cuts the city is proposing to the City Council include laying off Parks and Facilities Director Lee Anderson, eliminating one seasonal parks employee position and not hiring an assistant city planner and a police officer.

Hours for a domestic violence advocate would be reduced and a position for a part-time records clerk would not be filled.

Other cost-saving measures include using police cars for two additional years and cuts in police training, equipment and overtime.

The proposal also calls for reducing the hours the Sumner Senior Center is open, eliminate the hanging baskets program and reducing the Arts Commission funding.

The city is proposing a 6 percent hike in stormwater rates and a 10 percent surcharge for building permits and a charge to organizations to hang promotional banners over city streets.

The city staff proposal stated with the cuts and fee increases the biennial budget will be balanced with reserve funds and core services intact.

The staff is projecting the City Council will work out the details of the budget over the next month with the budget completed and approved by Thanksgiving.

The city is mandated by state law to adopt a budget by Dec. 31.

Reach Dennis Box at dbox@courierherald.com or 360-802-8209.

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