Aberdeen’s proposed 2020 annual budget includes new hires for the police and fire departments, road repaving, and continued improvements and upgrades to the city’s water, sewer and storm-water infrastructure.
“It is a balanced recommended budget that continues to lay the groundwork for Aberdeen’s bright future,” wrote Mayor Erik Larson in the preface to his budget. “The budget maintains current levels in city operations, prioritizes making key improvements of our infrastructure and addresses the community’s priorities through targeted programs and investments.”
Larson said the city is on a good footing financially. Sales tax revenues “have increased significantly the past few years and are expected to grow by 9% for 2019,” said Larson.
The proposed budget has the city spending into reserves, but Larson said the city is doing so to pay for capital improvements that are in the best interests of the citizens; for example, the final payment on two fire vehicles of $870,000. Larson said at a time when reserves are healthy it makes sense to use them for these types of purposes, while still maintaining an acceptable level of reserves for the city.
City Finance Director Clifford Fredrickson presented some highlights from the budget proposal at a budget workshop at City Hall on Wednesday.
The budget provides a small amount of money to start planning efforts for new police and fire stations. There is also a request for an added position in the fire department, the cost to be shared between the fire and EMS accounts. In the budget is a request from the police department to purchase two fully outfitted patrol vehicles and an additional full-time employee “to reduce the length of vacancies in the department,” said Larson.
Larson said, because the voters of Aberdeen passed a special sales tax to support transportation improvements, “In 2019, the city was able to leverage our existing funding with state grants to invest over $1.2 million in street paving and new sidewalks. In 2020, this trend is budgeted to continue with over $700,000 in grants expected to add to our own funding for transportation infrastructure.”
Friday, City Engineer Kris Koski announced the State Transportation Improvement Board included two projects for the city in its 2019 grant awards: $550,001 for the East Market Street, F Street and Fuller Way roundabout, and $515,000 for overlay projects — which add asphalt on top of a deteriorating roadway — on West Wishkah and West Heron streets.
The proposed budget calls for $75,000 in street-lighting improvements on Purkey Avenue, Bel Aire Avenue and Herbig Heights. The budget proposal includes $5,000 for the sidewalk improvement program, which last year replaced 8,162 square feet of sidewalk and six ADA ramps.
The City Council recently approved significant water, sewer and stormwater rate increases, which will help fund some critical improvements to the city’s water system. The 2020 proposed budget contains water system capital improvements totaling $2.122 million, compared to $400,000 in 2019. Also budgeted are $350,000 in storm drainage improvements.
In the proposed budget request is money to upgrade pump stations and install turbidity meters at four locations as required by the State Department of Health, and $1.1 million to replace the floating covers on the city’s reservoirs. An additional $200,000 is budgeted to address permitting and design of the sedimentation removal project at the Wishkah Headworks Reservoir. Sangder said an estimated 70% of the reservoir’s capacity has been lost due to sediment and the city is looking to dredge it to increase its capacity.
The second reading of the 2020 budget ordinance and a public hearing will be held at the next regular City Council meeting, 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.