Jane Stebbins
The Curry Coastal Pilot

The Brookings City Council Monday night approved a $22.1 million budget for 2017-18, to include $6.3 million in water, sewer, storm drain, street and park improvements — and increases in water and sewer rates.

The tax rate of $3.763 per $1,000 assessed valuation is the same as last year, as voter-approved Measure 50 limits increased in property valuations to 3 percent. This fiscal year’s budget was $24.9 million; the fiscal year ends June 30.

Of the $22.1 million, $20.67 million will be used for city operations; the remainder will be used to pay toward water and wastewater loans.

Next year’s budget shows general fund operating expenses of $4.37 million, not including funds in the contingency, or rainy-day, fund. Revenue is projected to be $4.07 million. The contingency “rainy-day fund” is expected to increase by $25,000 from this fiscal year, as well, in keeping in line with maintaining at least a 5 percent budgetary “cushion” for emergencies.

Rate hikes

To help pay for increased costs of doing business, the city also voted Monday to increase water rates by 3.8 percent and sewer rates by 3 percent. Three System Replacement Fees listed on customer sewer/water bills, automatically adjusted to the Consumer Price Index and will also increase 2.4 percent.

City officials like to remind customers that there is no longer a Systems Replacement Fee for streets because it was replaced by a 4-cent gasoline tax voters approved almost two years ago.

Monthly water fees for city residents will now be $12.28 plus $2.65 per each additional 100 cubic feet. Customers living outside the city limits will pay a base fee of $24.56 plus $5.30 per 100 cubic feet.

A typical water and sewer bill in the city of Brookings is between $80 and $100, according to the city’s website.

Sewer bills will also increase to $61.86 for single- and multi-family residential units within city limits. All others will pay an additional $3.48 service charge. Commercial monthly user charges will be $6.78 per (ccf) hundred cubic feet — or 748 gallons of water — restaurants will pay $7.69 ccf, schools, $4.03 ccf, churches $3.91 ccf and industrial, $12.02 per cff. Harbor Sanitation District, to which the city provides wastewater treatment, is in negotiations with the city on a new contract.

Sewer costs make up the bulk of customers’ bills because the city is still paying debt on improvements made at the treament plant.

The city council also voted to approve increases in utility replacement charges. The Water System Replacement Fee will increase 7 cents to $3.04, the wastewater system fee will go up to $3.89 from $3.80, and the stormwater fee will go up a dime, to $4.25. These fees are listed on customers’ water/sewer bills.

And going out

The general fund is the coffer from which most municipal operations are funded, and in Brookings, $2.28 million will fund the police department. The city justifies that expense in its priorities to have a safe community with 24/7 law enforcement services. Currently, there are 21 positions budgeted in the police department: 14 sworn officers — a chief, two sergeants, one detective and lieutenant and nine officers — and seven dispatchers.

“We are no fluff,” said Lt. Donny Dotson, noting that the agency has added only one officer position to its ranks since 1995. “We’re the only 24/7/365 agency in the county. They (city council) determined years ago they wanted a higher level of police service, quicker response time, all those things, for the citizens of Brookings.”

The next largest consumer of money in the general fund — not including funds that pass through the ledgers for debt service, contingencies and transfers — is parks and recreation, with $333,370 budgeted for the next fiscal year.

Following that is legislative and administrative expenses of $293,364, the fire department at $290,554, planning and building departments at $264,919, and the finance and human resources at $228,330. Other departments in the general fund include judicial, the municipal swimming pool, non-departmental and special appropriations.

The street fund will be allocated $698,650 in fiscal year 2017-18; the water fund — including distribution and treatment — is budgeted for $1.98 million; and the wastewater fund, $3.63 million.

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