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CITY OKS 2002-03 BUDGET

By BRIAN BULLOCK

The City of Brookings 2002-2003 budget, approved by the budget committee Wednesday, calls for no increases in fees and no reduction in services.

The budget, a $15 million effort on the part of city staff, was reviewed and adopted by the city's Budget Committee. It continues the present level of city services and doesn't contain any immediate fee increases, said City Manager Leroy Blodgett.

"We've increased no fees. We've kept the same level of city services and we've proposed a balanced budget in accordance to state law," Blodgett told the committee.

However, city staff left the door open for potential increases in sewer rates, which will be needed to pay for the $13 million loan for the wastewater treatment plant the city took out in 1997.

The city financed the new wastewater treatment system with funds from a state revolving fund loan. The construction was needed to bring the treatment plant into compliance with Department of Environmental Quality and federal Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Even though repayment of the loan is derived from wastewater revenue, the city received voter approval of general obligation bonds in 1997 for $13 million.

There is no indication of what the rate increases will be, or even if they will be instituted by the City Council.

"It's quite inevitable there will be some kind of increase there," Blodgett said. "Those rates, though, will be adjusted just to cover that debt."

In fact, the city's projected wastewater fund resources have increased $550,000 in anticipation of those rate increases.

Some of the city's costs indicate how tight the 2003 budget is. General fund expenditures for last year was $2,857,000. The expenditures this coming year were approximately $100,000 less.

Despite the tight budget, the council goals remain high. Some of the projects high on the council's list are:

•Completion of engineering study for Dawson/Carpenterville roads and Highway 101.

•Study for a community center and swimming pool, city hall and fire house.

•Downtown revitalization studies.

•Exploration of a second bridge on the Chetco River for emergency preparedness.

•Improved cable television services.

•Completion of a parks master plan.

•Construction of a new public works shop.

•Implementation of a water management plan and secure funding for increased water storage.

•Reduce the inflow and infiltration of the wastewater system.

The city manager also revealed the city's share of State Revenue Sharing Funds. Brookings will receive $83,000 for the General Fund and $223,000 for the Street Fund for the next fiscal year.

The State Revenue Sharing Funds are raised through cigarette, liquor and state highway revenue (gasoline) taxes.

City staff recommended use of cigarette, liquor and State Shared Revenue taxes for general operations of the General Fund. Also, gasoline tax revenue will be used for operations of the Street Fund.

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