News

City budget balanced with big ticket buys

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

Bonney Lake's 2005 budget is about to hit the stretch run with the ultimate goal of approval by Dec. 31.

Mayor Bob Young and the city staff have submitted a $70 million outline for the upcoming year.

"We have presented a balanced budget that meets all their (City Council's) request," Young said. "We have funded what they wanted and worked very hard to put their priorities out front."

The first preliminary budget came in at $99 million, then was dropped to the current figure.

According to Young, the reason for the new figure of $70 million had to do with a change in accounting methods from previous years.

"The whole method for accounting is changing," Young said. "We now have to put values on everything as assets - buildings, cars, streets, sidewalks, streetlights all have to be added. One of our accountants added a bunch of assets that have been pulled out of the current budget. That caused the change from $99 million to $70 million."

Last year's budget came in at $49 million. Young noted the reason for increases included purchasing property for parks and a new city hall, $12 million for the Tacoma Water deal, $5 million for a new at-grade water storage tank, and $2 million for a Ball Park Well treatment facility.

Building a new City Hall is slated to cost $8 million, but up to 40 percent will be paid for by utility fees and the rest by councilmatic bonds.

Other improvement projects in the budget are $75,000 for sidewalks and $3 million for the upgrade of the Sumner sewage treatment plant.

While the mayor and his staff have put the budget together and submitted it to the council, the final leg of the budget race will likely face considerable debate.

"Our budget is loosely put together," Councilman Neil Johnson said. "The numbers don't match up. The 2002 and 2003 ending balances don't line up. We are forced to use a document prepared by the finance department that isn't accurate. We need numbers that show us where we were and where we are going. We can find money to build City Hall. If you can shift funds, why can't we find funds for sidewalk projects. It's a big picture thing."

By state law the City Council must approve a balanced budget by the end of the year.

"If a council goes sideways and does screwy things," Young said, "I can call a council meeting every night of the week until the budget is done."

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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