Budget includes higher rates

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer April 19, 2013 07:30 pm

The Brookings City Council Monday unveiled its proposed $19.8 million budget for 2013-2014, with sewer rate increases, a sewer plant retaining wall project and storm system repairs among the project highlights for the upcoming year.

 

A second public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. April 24 at the city hall, at 898 Elk Drive.

The proposed budget calls for water and sewer rate increases to be effective July 1, with rates increasing 3.96 percent and sewer rates going up by 4.9 percent. The average Brookings household will see an additional $3.75 on its monthly bill, said Finance Director Janell Howard.

A major project in the budget is to build a retaining wall next to the city’s wastewater treatment plant, where a slow-moving landslide could threaten the key components of the facility. The city has applied for federal grant funds for the project, but the status of those are unclear in the current federal budget process.

“The project’s designed and ready to go,” said Public Works and Development Director Loree Pryce. “If federal funding comes through, that’s great. If not, we still have to proceed with the project.”

Financing the project, estimated to cost $690,000, will be spread out over several years.

The proposed budget also includes $840,000 for storm water, sewer and water system repairs related to the winter storm that caused millions of dollars in damage throughout the county last November. An additional $200,000 is budgeted for replacing or lining aging water and sewer mains, and another $250,000 for street improvements.

The number of city employees will remain at 49, said City Manager Gary Milliman, with 16 seasonal part-time workers and 40 volunteers.

Union agreements, which cover more than half the city’s employees, expire in June 2014 and negotiations will take place during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Under the terms of the existing contracts, 3 percent salary increases are to take effect July 1.

Other capital projects in the proposed budget include the construction of various sidewalks throughout town, replacing swimming pools lights, installing security cameras at city facilities, water storage tank repairs and snail removal at the wastewater treatment plant.