City moves forward with Lake Boren flooding mitigation plan

June 3, 2011

The City Council has directed city staff members to move forward with a plan aimed at mitigating flooding from Lake Boren.

The lake’s water level rises in winter, flooding residents’ basements and yards on the north end of the lake.

China Creek roared into the north end of Lake Boren in December 2010 with heavy rain, flooding residents’ properties and dumping a slew of gravel and sediment on their lawns. By Tim Pfarr

City staff members presented a draft scope of work at the May 13 council meeting, seeking feedback regarding how to proceed with the project. The staff members proposed collecting data from the lake and identifying ways to mitigate the lake level.

In addition to addressing flooding on the north end of the lake, the draft said the project would also include exploring ways to make the north end of the lake more accessible.

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Police contract cheaper than expected for 2011

June 3, 2011

The city’s police contract with the King County Sheriff’s Office came in under budget for the year.

In late 2010, the sheriff’s office estimated that the contract for 2011 would cost the city about $1.46 million. The final contract cost came in $37,000 under budget.

There will be no changes to the level of service for the year.

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City revenue on the rise, but still below normal

May 6, 2011

The city’s revenue in the first quarter of this year is better than it was last year, which is indicative of a slow economic recovery, at least in the area of development and sales tax revenue, city Finance Director Christine Olson said.

The city has collected $1.45 million in revenue so far this year, which accounts for 24 percent of the $5.95 million budgeted in the general fund for the year. The city has spent $1.44 million so far, which accounts for 23 percent of the $6.38 million budgeted in the general fund for the year.

Olson said $6.38 million is likely higher than what the city will pay out of the general fund for the year, as other city funds will reimburse some expenses.

Sales tax collections for the year are at 19 percent of what was budgeted for the year, which is about 4 percent below what is typically collected in the first quarter. By the end of the year, that could amount to a $31,000 shortfall in sales tax revenue.

Olson said expenses from the city’s contract with the King County Sheriff’s Office could be higher than expected for 2010. When the city’s officers are sick or on vacation, the city must pay to have an additional officer fill in temporarily, and the exact cost of that can often be hard to predict. The city will pay for the 2010 overtime this year.

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City approves 2011 budget

January 7, 2011

The City Council passed the 2011 budget with a 6-1 vote — with Councilman Sonny Putter dissenting — at its Dec. 7 meeting. The budget forecasts a $46,000 surplus for the year.

“I want to commend the staff for working creatively,” Deputy Mayor Steve Buri said at the meeting.

Mayor John Dulcich also said the budget was a success, given that the council and members of city staff were able to balance the budget with virtually no tax hikes nor service cuts.

Although the sentiment for the 2011 budget was largely positive, comments were infused with statements regarding the importance of financial cautiousness in future years.

“Are we the Titanic or are we the Exxon Valdez?” Dulcich asked. “We can’t be sitting in our cabin. We have to be at the helm.”

Councilwoman Carol Simpson emphasized that the city’s financial future will be difficult.

“I don’t think it’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that we had before,” she said.

However, Putter rejected the budget’s conservative forecast, which does not take into account any new revenue sources or call for property tax hikes that could help fund additional services and projects.

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Parks upkeep to be funded next year

December 2, 2010

The City Council amended the 2011 preliminary budget to include $62,000 for parks maintenance, as the budget had previously called for maintenance of the city neighborhood parks to be discontinued.

The amendment was one in a string of more than a dozen approved by the council.

The council also approved a 1 percent property tax hike, although it also voted to reduce storm water fees by about $36 per household. Through the combination, those with homes worth less than about $1.5 million will see a reduction in taxes.

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City Hall closed due to snow, but special council meeting still on

November 23, 2010

NEW — 11:20 a.m. Nov. 23, 2010

City Hall is closed today due to snow, but the City Council will still hold its special meeting at 6 p.m. tonight to make amendments to the 2011 budget and possibly adjust the property tax levy rate. The meeting will be in the Council Chambers, 13020 Newcastle Way.

City Manager Rob Wyman said city maintenance workers continuously roamed Newcastle’s streets overnight, using the city’s three trucks armed with snowplows. One trucks broke down during the night, and it is now being repaired.

Roads are being cleared in accordance with the city’s priority map, which you can see here. Wyman said priority one and many two routes are in fair condition, but priority three and four routes have not have mostly not been plowed and are still very slick.

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Council to continue budget amendments, address property taxes Nov. 23

November 17, 2010

NEW — 2 p.m. Nov. 17, 2010

The City Council will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Nov. 23 in the Council Chambers, 13020 Newcastle Way, to continue making amendments to the 2011 preliminary budget and decide whether to increase property taxes next year.

The council began making amendments to the budget and held its final public hearing on the matter at its Nov. 16 meeting.

At the Nov. 16 meeting, the council voted to add $62,000 for parks maintenance next year, reduce funding for A Regional Coalition for Housing to $10,000 from $26,000, eliminate the $166,000 skate park project scheduled to be funded in 2012 and change city staff merit raises into noncompounding bonuses.

The Golf Club hosts town hall Thursday

October 27, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 26, 2010

The Golf Club at Newcastle, 15500 Six Penny Lane, will host the city’s annual town hall meeting from 7-9 p.m. Thursday in the Saint Andrews Ballroom. It will be free to attend.

Citizens are invited to attend and discuss city issues, as the town hall will include an open-microphone question and answer period as well as electronic polling.

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City Council spends retreat working on 2011 budget

October 4, 2010

Public invited to town hall Oct. 28

City officials began work on the 2011 budget in September, beginning with a seven-hour budget retreat Sept. 7.

The City Council met with City Manager Rob Wyman and Finance Director Christine Olson to set priorities and give direction to members of city staff for the budgeting process.

The budget process

The first copy of the preliminary budget will be distributed to the council at the Oct. 19 meeting. In accordance with budgeting policies adopted by the council earlier this year, city staff will not be able to present a budget containing a deficit. The first public hearing regarding the budget will also be held Oct. 19.

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