City Council approves budget cuts that create surplus

March 17, 2010

By Tim Pfarr

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NEW — 1:16 p.m. March 17, 2010

At its regular meeting last night, the City Council approved an $186,000 cut to the operating budget. Through the cut and re-appropriation other city funds, the $364,000 budget deficit has been changed to a $53,000 surplus.

The City Council approved the cuts with a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Sonny Putter dissenting and Deputy Mayor Steve Buri absent.

Interim City Manager Rob Wyman recommended the cuts to the operating budget after being directed by the City Council at the Jan. 12 meeting to cut operating expenses by 3 percent.

Through the operating cuts, the amount of money allotted to the city’s housing fund with A Regional Coalition for Housing will be reduced from $53,000 to $3,000 for 2010. Wyman said this would be a one-time cut.

The position of in-house City Attorney Lisa Marshall has been terminated in favor of contracting attorney duties. Dawn Reitan, who works with the Bellevue law firm Inslee Best, will take over as the city’s contract attorney. She previously worked as the city’s contract attorney for about five years prior to the hiring of Marshall in 2006.

Marshall was considered three-fifths of a full-time employee, and there was $73,454 allocated to her position. Reitan will attend the remaining City Council meetings this year in addition to performing about 15 hours of work for the city per month. At $200 per hour, the cost of having a contract attorney will be about $38,000 per year.

Interim Public Works Director Steve Roberge will remain in charge of the department until July, when the city hires a permanent city manager, and this will save about $84,000. Roberge, who also works as the city’s community development director, will be given a 15 percent raise while doing the role of both.

Furthermore, an accounting clerk will be reduced from a full-time employee to three-fifths of a full-time employee, which will save about $14,000.

“Cutting any more than that really starts to impact service levels,” Wyman said in an interview after the meeting.

Also at the meeting, the City Council finalized $745,000 of cuts it had made to the capital budget in January.

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5 Responses to “City Council approves budget cuts that create surplus”

  1. Jayne Bell on March 19th, 2010 8:13 pm

    Bravo! Cuts are always hard, but the financial health of our city will determine it’s future and create opportunities to fund necessities. Well done!

  2. SalmonFisher on March 21st, 2010 8:42 am

    It’s nice to see this new council is facing reality. The budget cuts are always tough but the bottom line is you can’t spend what you don’t have.

  3. Heath Pressley on March 27th, 2010 6:57 am

    Wish our Federal and State Gov. had the same budget philosophy. Cutting spending creates a surplus. Novel idea! Way to go Newcastle leaders!

  4. Gary Adams on April 1st, 2010 12:36 pm

    Cuts are good as long as they don’t affect service levels. Now keep your eyes on any proposed changes to zoning or the Downtown Business Plan. That’s what will ultimately guide the future of the City and it’s economic health, the personality of the City, and the quality of life. Do we want more strip mall style development? Do we want to allow more development on steep slopes? Those are just a few questions to think about along with short term budget cuts.

  5. SalmonFisher on April 2nd, 2010 11:36 am

    Any cut “that doesn’t affect service levels” is great! It of course begs the question why we were spencing the money in the first place. I’ve been able to find 405 and the Golf Club to date without 9′ tall chartreuse signs. Could have done without that.

    The personality of the city is defined by the people, not buildings. Right now it’s pretty good if you are social and a part of the community. If you are not and sniping from outside, not connected to the community today , I doubt new buildings will make those people any happier, warmer or fun to be around.

    The economic health of the city is largely defined by a structural problem that exists at the state and county level. It’s problematic if it is believed we need certain types of buildings or businesses to achieve certain revenue goals as opposed to having certain types of buildings and business arrive based on sustainable demand from the citizens. That thinking leads to the kind of unsustainable situation that evey level of government finds itself in today.

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