Olympia residents urge officials to beef up facility maintenance, trim operating costs

lpemberton@theolympian.comNovember 12, 2013 

Only a handful of people spoke during the Olympia City Council’s hearing Tuesday on its preliminary 2014 operating budget.

STEVE BLOOM; STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Only a handful of people spoke during the Olympia City Council’s hearing Tuesday on its preliminary 2014 operating budget.

But their messages were clear.

“Utility rates have gone up and up and up,” said resident Bob Jacobs. “...I would suggest that some operating efficiencies are in order.”

The city’s preliminary $119 million budget includes proposed residential rate hikes of 7 percent for water rates, 4 percent for waste water, 3 percent for the LOTT Clean Water Alliance and 2 percent for storm water.

On a monthly basis, the increases translate to about $5 per household, according to City Manager Steve Hall.

The budget represents a 4.2 percent increase over the 2013 operating budget.

“It is balanced with no significant cuts in services or layoffs,” administrative services director Jane Ragland Kirkemo said during a presentation before the public hearing.

But resident Jeff Jaksich, a former member of the Olympia Planning Commission, voiced concern, saying that revenues are far below expenditures in some areas.

“The city’s operating budget is not, I repeat, is not sustainable,” he said.

George Sharp, executive director of the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau, thanked the council for supporting tourism efforts during the next budget cycle, saying that those efforts will bring economic development and more jobs to the area.

The council also took feedback on the proposed 2014-19 Capital Facilities Plan, which is $122 million and focuses on building, park, street and utility maintenance. It doesn’t include new projects.

 

“It continues to focus on maintaining what we have,” Kirkemo said.

During the public hearing, Jacobs thanked the council for its progress
on the Isthmus Park Project, but he urged them to put more money into
facility maintenance – an area the city has tried to save money on by
deferring work.

“It has dragged on for much too long now,” Jacobs said.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com

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