December 1, 2011
Typical homeowner faces $11 increase next year
Members of the City Council have agreed to cover the city’s $61,000 shortfall between revenue and expenditures for its 2012 budget in part by taking an allowable 1 percent increase in property tax.
The move will provide the city with about $40,400 in revenue — closing that shortfall to about $21,000.
Other reductions are still on the table to balance the 2012 budget — including the elimination of the city’s parks manager position, reductions to the city’s communication funding and cuts to the city manager’s contingency money that acts as a cushion for unexpected expenses.
An ordinance to set the city’s property tax collection must come before the City Council at its Dec. 6 meeting before the action will be finalized. Final adoption of the city’s 2012 budget is also expected at that time.
“This is responsible on our part,” Councilman Sonny Putter said. “It enables us to move forward, and it seems reasonable.”
July 1, 2011
Candidates file for August primary
Resident Frank Irigon and former City Councilman Gordon Bisset have filed to run for City Council Position 4 in this year’s election.
Bisset — who served as a member of the council from 2002-2005 — and Irigon will face off against Parks Commission Chair Andrew Shelton in a primary election in August.
The top two finishers will advance to the general election in November.
Councilman Sonny Putter, who holds Position 4, announced in April he would retire from the council at the end of the year.
July 1, 2011
The City Council unanimously approved promotions for administrative assistant Sarah Jacobs and accountant Melyssa Lynch.
The position titles for each employee changed last month, and each was given a raise.
The promotions will cost the city $4,200 more this year, but no budget amendments were needed, as the operating budget will be able to absorb the cost increase.
The administrative assistant title changed to executive assistant/human resources analyst. The change came with a 10 percent raise, increasing Jacob’s salary from $52,000 per year to $57,000 per year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
April 1, 2011
UPDATED — 1:45 p.m. April 4, 2011
Councilwoman Lisa Jensen and Councilman Steve Buri have announced they will seek re-election this November.
Jensen and Buri, whose terms expire at the end of the year, each announced the news in March. Jensen sits in Position 1 and Buri sits in Position 3 on the City Council.
All council positions represent the entire city.
Councilman Sonny Putter’s and Councilwoman Carol Simpson’s terms also expire at the end of the year, but they said they had not yet decided whether they wanted to run for re-election.
Jensen and Buri were both first elected to the council in 2007.
Jensen said she filed to continue making Newcastle an even better community.
“I believe Newcastle is a great community for a lot of reasons, but it’s the people that make it special,” she said. “I believe that Newcastle has a great future, and I want to do my part.”
She said she also wants to continue encouraging community involvement in events such as Newcastle Days, and maintain communication between city government and residents.
Jensen said she feels the biggest issues facing the city are budgetary. She said the city still has significant challenges ahead when it comes to living within its means.
April 1, 2011
The City Council voted 6-1 at its March 15 meeting to pay for this year’s $250,000 City Hall move with money from its cumulative reserve fund and surface water management fund.
The reserves will take the biggest hit, funding $225,000, and the surface water management fund will cover the remaining $25,000.
The $250,000 will cover remodeling costs in the new building and all moving expenses.
That was one of two funding structures city staff proposed when the City Council voted in February to move City Hall from the Newport Manufacturing building, 13020 Newcastle Way, to the Newcastle Professional Center, 12835 Newcastle Way.
The city’s cumulative reserve fund has $1.5 million for capital purchases or unforeseen operating costs, although the city has never drawn money from the fund to pay for capital purchases, according to city code. Use of the reserves requires a two-thirds majority vote by the City Council.
The surface water management fund typically pays for maintenance of and repairs to the city’s surface water system, which includes drainage ponds. However, the fund is also used to cover overhead costs and salaries for employees who work on surface water projects.
City Manager Rob Wyman said that is the only fund — other than the general fund — that funds staff salaries and overhead, so it can bear some of the cost of the move.
April 1, 2011
Newcastle now has 10,380 people. What do you think of the city finally hitting the 10,000 mark?
Great! Does that make us a little closer to gaining our own ZIP code?
— Trina Sooy, Newcastle
I think hitting the 10,000 mark is a cause for celebration! We are a growing city … and that is good news for tax revenues and interest in our city.
— Jackie Foskett, Newcastle
Not much. It’s our quality of life that matters, not a number.
— Lee Strom, Newcastle
March 4, 2011
Heading into 2010, the city was facing a deficit of nearly $500,000 in its operating budget.
After extensive cuts, that was eliminated and changed to a surplus of almost $53,000. For the remainder of the year, the budget teetered between small surpluses and deficits, but the year ended with a $5,500 surplus.
Almost all city funds collected more money than was budgeted. Development revenue was $182,000 more than what the city budgeted, and this helped offset the shortfalls in retail sales tax and state-shared criminal justice sales tax collections.
At the end of the year, retail sales tax collection was $160,000 below budget, and the state-shared criminal justice sales tax was almost $57,000 below budget.