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Lacey budget keeps services

Lacey’s 2012 budget maintains services and provides funding for major capital projects, but a slow economic recovery has the city on watch, according to officials.

The proposed $110.44 million budget is $31 million smaller than the amended 2011 budget, due mostly to the purchase of property and fund balance commitments. The general fund, which provides money for street maintenance, parks, police and community development, is $31.65 million.

Revenue continues to trickle in, including property taxes from new construction expected to be the lowest since 2002, according to the city.

“The economy right now is still uncertain and that’s the major driver for the revenues,” said city manager Scott Spence. Sales tax, which makes up about 27 percent of the city’s revenue, is expected to remain relatively flat while the cost of doing businesses increases, including a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for city employees.

Spence said the city will keep an eye on money coming in and may have to discuss service levels if revenue doesn’t meet budget. While there are no job cuts proposed, any positions that open next year will be evaluated, Spence said.

There is money in the 2012 budget to fund the improvements to Carpenter Road, a $2 million upgrade to Ruddell Road and $1.6 million for the Lacey Senior Center expansion.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for tonight; a second and final hearing is set for Dec. 1, with adoption scheduled Dec. 15.

INCREASES

The council is also scheduled to vote on increasing water rates and property taxes. Proposed is a 4 percent increase for water rates, which adds up to a monthly increase of 94 cents per month for wintertime use. The higher rates will net about $260,000 in additional revenue that will fund operations, repay debt and fund future improvements, said finance director Troy Woo.

Also up for a vote is the city’s 2012 property tax rate, which is anticipated at $1.47 per $1,000 assessed value. That rate, which includes a 1 percent increase and voter-approved bonds, will generate about $225,000 more than 2011 property tax collections, according to the city.

Nate Hulings: 360-754-5476 nhulings@theolympian.com www.theolympian.com/outsideoly

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