Budget woes filtering to the council

Heading into the home stretch of a difficult budget season, members of the Enumclaw City Council are hearing from those targeted for municipal belt-tightening.

The 2010 budget proposed by Mayor John Wise calls for eliminating eight full-time city employees and reducing the hours of five more. The work-force reductions would save nearly $800,000, Wise noted.

In addition, the mayor’s budget calls for reducing the financial support traditionally given to nonprofit agencies who work for the betterment of the community.

City Council members heard from representatives of three entities on the chopping block during their Nov. 9 meeting.

Jail Sgt. Tyler Chilman spoke to the proposal to eliminate a corrections officer from the city’s ranks, a move projected to save nearly $79,000 in salary and benefits during the coming year.

“We fought hard for a sixth position over the years and now we’re reaping the benefits,” Chilman said, explaining that a staff reduction will pull him away from his supervisory duties.

Losing a jailer presents safety concerns, he said, because “the corrections division is only getting busier.”

Cathy Rigg, executive director of the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce, told council members the city could suffer from a second year of budget cuts.

The city traditionally funds the chamber so it can operate its associated Visitor Center.

The chamber’s funding ranged between $27,000 and $29,000 from 2006 to 2008 and was dropped to $25,000 this year. The chamber requested $29,070 for 2010 but the mayor’s budget suggested $12,500 instead.

“We’re very concerned about the services we might have to cut at the Visitor Center,” Rigg told the council.

Leslie Moore and Kirk Nelson, representing Green River Community College, told council members the college benefits the local economy through its outreach efforts aimed at small businesses.

GRCC received $15,000 in 2008 and $5,000 in 2009. It had requested a return to the $15,000 funding level for 2010, but the mayor’s budget offered $5,000 instead.

Council members had previously heard from members of Enumclaw Rotary, the prime sponsor of the annual Street Fair. Rotary had received $2,000 this year and had asked for $5,550 for 2010, but was axed from the mayor’s budget.

Also getting nothing in the mayor’s proposal is Stars and Stripes, the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration. Organizers had received $8,500 in 2008 and $5,000 this year, and has asked for $7,500 for 2010.

The mayor’s proposal is just that – a recommended spending plan for the coming year, complete with anticipated revenues. The final word is in the hands of the seven-member council. It is anticipated the council will approve a 2010 budget during its Dec. 14 meeting.

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