By Don Nelson

Winthrop’s town budget for 2014 will increase by about 3 percent over this year’s budget thanks to slow but steady recovery from the revenue pressures of the past several years, Mayor Dave Acheson said.

The budget – with total projected spending of $6,243,635 compared to $6,026,190 budgeted for 2013 – was adopted by the town council last week after a public hearing that drew no oral or written public comments. Revenues from all sources are projected at $6,996,582, the difference representing reserve funds in various categories.

There are no dramatic spikes in any line item expenditure, Acheson said, but some expenses have been restored or increased.

“Last year we made some drastic cuts in a lot of places,” Acheson said. “This year we were able to restore some of the things we cut out.”

For instance, the proposed $2,000 contribution to Okanogan County Transportation and Nutrition that was eliminated from the 2013 budget is restored for 2014, Acheson said. Additionally, staff training budgets that had been substantially pared have been increased for 2014, the mayor said.

Also approved was an increase in the mayor’s salary from $700 to $1,000 a month – which will take effect Jan. 1, 2014, when mayor-elect Sue Langdalen takes over for Acheson, who served two four-years and did not seek re-election.

Acheson said he thinks the job should pay more than $700 a month but did not think it was appropriate to ask for a higher figure while he was still in office.

Earlier the council had approved a 1 percent hike in the local property tax, the maximum increase allowed under state law without a vote of town residents.

About 30 percent of property taxes will go toward the current operating expense fund, and about 69 percent toward street improvements, according to the budget document. One percent goes to a fund established to improve parking in the town.

The budget is broken down into several expenditure categories other than day-to-operations, such as water and sewage system maintenance and upkeep. Some of the categories are dependent on specific revenue sources such as user fees, the city’s portion of hotel/motel occupancy taxes, state grants or federal funds.

Copies of the budget are available for review at Winthrop Town Hall.

In other business last week, the council heard from Robert Stone, representing the Winthrop Barn Association, regarding the repair of hardware on the barn’s doors, a topic of some discussion recently. Stone said the association is now looking into replacing the doors themselves, rather than just the hardware, because the doors are made of fiberglass and, with constant use, are not substantial enough to hold the hardware in place.