The Town of Winthrop is contemplating a total operating budget of $6.44 million for 2023, with projected revenues that should leave the town in a comfortable position — but some of that surplus is earmarked for future projects.
The total projected revenue of $9.1 million includes anticipated revenues from taxes, grants and all of the town’s reserve funds.
A public hearing was held on the proposed budget on Nov. 16. Some highlights:
• The town increased its property tax assessment by 1%, the maximum allowed without a vote of residents. The current tax rate is $1.54 per $1,000 of assessed value.
• 15% of property taxes will be devoted to the current expense fund, which includes general administration, police, civil service, parks, fire control, planning and building inspection services. The budget provides $20,000 in funding for the Marshal’s Office move next year from its current leased building on Riverside Avenue to the former Okanogan County Fire District 6 fire hall on Englar Street, which the town owns.
• 84% of property taxes will be used to fund routine street department operations and improvements. Large capital projects typically require state or federal grant support. Grant proceeds will be used next year to resurface Horizon Flat Road and add sidewalks on Corral Street.
• 1% of property taxes will go into a parking improvement fund, which will be used to improve the parking area at the Town Trailhead.
• The Highway 20 crossing for the Susie Stephens Trail is expected to be completed in 2023, including crossing signals there and at the White Avenue crossing. Construction of Phase I of the RiverWalk project is also anticipated next year.
• Water rates are projected to increase by 9% to meet ongoing expenses and to build reserves for future capital projects and upgrades. Sewer rates are also projected to increase by 9%, for the same reasons. An update of the sewer plan is expected in 2023.
• Proceeds from the town’s 2% hotel/motel fund (projected at $140,000) will be used primary for the Red Barn. Proceeds from the 3% hotel/motel fund (projected at $215,000) will be used to promote tourism and improve tourism-related facilities. Distribution of those funds is overseen by the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.
• Revenues include $22,500 in reimbursements from NCW Libraries for maintenance at the new public library, which is owned by the town and operated by the library system.
Only two people spoke at the hearing. Roxie Miller asked for clarification of library-related expenditures, and Rick Jones, representing Winthrop Kiwanis Club, asked if funding for the club’s family activity park under development near the town ball field is included in the budget. Public Works Director Jeff Sarvis said that $10,000 is allotted toward the park, with about $6,000 of that designated to completed extension of electrical service to the park that was started this year.
The council is expected to adopt the 2023 budget at a meeting in the near future.
In other business, the council approved a $30,000 contract with Varela Engineering and Design for planning and design work on the RiverWalk project.
The council also appointed Greg Wright, co-owner of the Iron Horse store in Winthrop, to the town’s Planning Commission. Two vacancies remain on the commission; if interested call Town Hall at (509) 996-2320.