Anticipating a stable economic climate next year, Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody developed a 2014 budget that maintains most town staffing and services at their current levels, and manages to set aside money in reserve.
“It’s a really good way to start off the new year,” Ing-Moody said in presenting the budget proposal to the Twisp Council at its Nov. 26 meeting.
The town’s total budget is $2,383,988, with $820,779 in the general fund, which pays for most day-to-day town services such as police and fire protection, planning and administration.
The town budget for fire protection will increase from $41,202 this year to $54,845 in 2014 to accommodate a 20 percent increase for fire protection services provided by Okanogan County Fire District 6 under a five-year contract signed this year.
Ing-Moody said the town spending plan anticipates about $10,000 more in sales tax revenues next year, “a slight increase over 2013.”
At the end of the year, the town will be able to set aside $40,000 to bring the reserve account in the general fund to $85,000, Ing-Moody said.
Town officials don’t plan to increase water and sewer fees this year, but Ing-Moody said that means an increase will be needed the following year. State law requires that water and sewer funds be self-supporting and balanced, which has meant hefty fee hikes in the past.
In 2012, for instance, fees were increased by 15.5 percent for sewer and 13.5 percent for water services.
Council members discussed the idea of putting in place a smaller, annual increase in water and sewer fees to avoid bigger jumps every few years. Ing-Moody said such a policy could begin next year or in 2015, and the council could alter the annual amount at any time to reflect financial needs.
“We can either do this on a regular basis or it becomes a big increase,” she said.
Ing-Moody said Twisp got good news last week when the state Transportation Improvement Board announced that the town will receive $405,000 for street resurfacing projects. The work may take place next year or in 2015, Ing-Moody said.
Building operational reserves is essential to strategic planning for the town, Ing-Moody said. Reserves in the general fund and water and sewer funds will help the town deal with emergencies as well as long-term needs, she said.
Public Works Superintendent Howard Moss said he has been working to address “deferred maintenance and small projects” and during his tenure, but the town will need to fund some big-ticket water and sewer projects in the future.
“There’s 1938 stuff out there that’s still functioning, but there are long-term infrastructure needs,” Moss said.
The council will vote on the final budget at its next meeting on Dec. 10.
Joining the council last week was Dwight Filer, who took the oath of office a month early. Filer was elected in November to the seat held by Clay Hill, who withdrew from the election to move to Olympia.