Lacey to tap road project fund for loss in sales tax

$900,000 shortfall: Street projects have money until 2014, but no more will be set aside

ckrotzer@theolympian.comOctober 28, 2012 

The City of Lacey is suspending funds used for yearly road overlay projects to cover most of a $900,000 gap in the proposed 2013 budget.

The city is looking to adopt a $97 million budget this year. The budget, while tight, will maintain core services, according to City Manager Scott Spence.

“There should be minimal impact to the public,” he said.

The city is not looking at layoffs. It has about 10 unfilled positions, some of which date back to 2009, Spence said.

“The next three years are going to be more difficult,” he said. “We are projecting future gaps in the budget if the economy doesn’t turn around.

“We are being fiscally prudent in how we handle this year’s budget, but hopefully minimizing the impact to the public.”

The city also is preparing for additional state funding cuts. Lacey receives nearly $1.4 million from the state through gas tax, criminal justice support, liquor excise tax and liquor board profits.

That number dropped by $54,000 from 2011 to 2012, Spence said, and he expects it will fall again.

A drop in retail sales tax, the city’s largest revenue generator, created the $900,000 gap. It will be supplemented mostly with the $850,000 earmarked for road overlay projects, such as the Ruddell Road project this summer.

The city set aside $1.4 million to upgrade the three-mile stretch of Ruddell Road from Pacific Avenue to Yelm Highway.

Enough money has been set aside for road overlays through 2014, but Spence said the city no longer will set aside funds for future projects.

The city’s proposed budget has enough money to complete a number of projects including the Lacey Senior Center and $4 million worth of street construction, including installing pedestrian beacons on roundabouts.

The city also is looking to improve the Woodland District and Clearbrook area, as well as focus on its military residents.

“One in 10 of our residents are active-duty military,” Spence said. “We are looking for ways we can figure out how to re-employ the military” after their service.

Budget meetingS

What: Public budget hearings.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday and Nov. 15.

Where: Council Chambers, 420 College St. SE, Lacey.

The first meeting will address revenue and expenses, the second the entire budget.

Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 @chelseakrotzer

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