By Ann McCreary
The Town of Twisp has adopted a budget for 2017 that is just slightly higher than this year’s budget.
Although the town’s spending will remain almost unchanged, Twisp anticipates next year to be a big year for infrastructure improvements, funded primarily through state and federal grants.
The town’s general fund budget for 2017 is $1,040,624, which compares to $1,038,895 for 2016 — a difference of $1,729. The Twisp Town Council approved the town’s annual budget at its Nov. 22 meeting.
The general fund includes most town services such as police, fire, clerk, mayor and council, planning and building, pool and parks, EMS, municipal court, airport and library.
Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said the overall financial projection for the town next year is stable.
“Our revenues continue to slowly grow at a healthy rate, despite the closure of a couple of businesses in town, which will likely affect retail sales revenues,” Ing-Moody said in a budget message prepared for the Town Council.
“However, although retail sales revenue projection may be conservative for 2017, property tax revenues are projected to increase slightly as the building trend continues within town.”
Twisp has seen more new residential development in the past two years than it has for decades, as a result of resolving its longstanding water shortage problem and favorable economic conditions.
Ing-Moody said statewide projections indicate economic growth and stability as “in-migration” — especially in the Seattle area — is expected to continue into 2017.
“As the Methow Valley community is generally affected by Seattle markets, this is a reassuring sign for Twisp,” she said.
The mayor said 2017 would be “a year of visible difference for the town, which equates to a lot of work being done.”
Multiple projects funded primarily through federal and state grants are expected to get underway, including replacement of aging water pipes, sewer improvements, sidewalk construction along Highway 20 and Twisp Avenue, trail and tennis court construction.
The town will also work to secure funding to begin construction of a new civic cuilding that is in planning stages, and to start work on a sports complex near the municipal airport, Ing-Moody said.
Twisp officials were encouraged to learn recently that Twisp is one of 39 municipalities nominated to receive up to $500,000 through a state program called “Complete Streets,” which funds development of local transportation that is designed with all users in mind, not just motorists. The funding can be used to improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
The town will know after January whether it will be one of 12 cities in Washington chosen to receive the award.
Ing-Moody said her strategy is to leverage assets and develop partnerships that help the town move its initiatives forward.
“Things don’t happen overnight in government, but our best efforts are to leverage the assets we have and be more efficient and effective in delivery of services,” Ing-Moody said.
The 2017 budget includes a pay increase for the mayor that was approved by the Town Council earlier in November. The council voted to increase the mayor’s monthly salary from $2,000 to $2,500.
“Twisp is a community that is going somewhere and a lot of that is prompted by a mayor who is looking to the future,” said council member Hans Smith, who introduced the salary increase, which takes effect in January.
The budget also provides for increasing a part-time Public Works position to full time, and funds a newly hired entry-level police officer who is attending police academy until March.
The 2017 budget includes new sales tax revenues for the town’s street fund that will be collected as a result of voter approval of a new Transportation Benefit District. The new taxing district is expected to generate $48,000 next year for street maintenance and improvements in Twisp.
The budget also includes a 3 percent increase in the town’s water and sewer funds, which are separate funds that are required by state law to be balanced.