The Twisp Town Council acted on or reviewed a number of budget-related items for the coming year at its meeting last week.
As allowed under state law, the council approved a 1% increase in the town’s property tax levy, which will raise about $2,000 in additional taxes for the town in 2021. Also approved was a 1% increase in the emergency medical services levy which helps support Aero Methow Rescue Service. That will generate an additional $482 a year in local taxes.
The council reviewed a preliminary 2021 budget that calls for a reduction in general fund spending, which supports the town’s basic services, from $872,084 this year to $804,693 next year, reflecting an anticipated decrease in general revenues and spending adjustments made by town departments.
The overall 2021 budget of $8,644,970 reflects an increase from the 2020 budget of $7,490,641, but most of that is accounted for by $940,000 water system improvement project supported by grants and loans. The budget includes $3.2 million for a new civic building, and $567,298 for a new sports complex.
Also proposed are slight increases in water and sewer service charges, from $62.13 to $63.06 per month for water, and from $62.39 to $63.33 per month for sewer.
In other business:
• Public Works Director Andrew Denham reported that the installation of new water meters is nearly completed; and that the North Town project to upgrade water systems and streets was expected to wrap up soon. The extensive project includes the replacement of the 80-year-old water system, new individual service lines, increased fire flow, sewer repairs, and road surface improvements in the neighborhoods north of the Twisp River. Denham said that the old brass water meters and other scrap metal the town has accumulated will be taken by Methow Recycles at no cost to the town.
• The council revisited a plan to increase the town’s social media presence, strictly as a one-way information source rather than a medium of exchange with town residents. Deputy Clerk Amy Grennell noted that the town would be unable to block comments on a Facebook page, and reviewing comments would require staff time to collect information or monitor inappropriate content. Mayor Soo Ing-Moody and council members agreed that the intent is still to use social media as a way to push out information as opposed to creating a discussion forum. Town staff will continue to explore other options.