City budget moves to public hearing

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL

After approving inclusion of funding for the amounts requested by outside entities, the Washington City Council approved the tentative budget to go for a public hearing during the March 6 regular meeting, with the possibility of the budget also being approved at that meeting and being sent to the state.

During the last special session to discuss the budget, Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG) director Ed Raber and PAWS and More director Amber Talbott addressed the council and fielded questions regarding their budget requests. Main Street Washington director Sarah Grunewaldt and Tourism Bureau director Michelle Redlinger were also present, but had given presentations on their budget requests at earlier meetings. While the council voted to move ahead with the requests, the members decided to address requests for three-year commitments from two of the organizations at a later meeting.

?Some of the events or projects we are undertaking are in response to situations we are in and we are just trying to capitalize on some opportunities within the larger corridor we are part of,? Raber said during his presentation. ?Our organization is out there to try to figure out what those opportunities are. I regularly talk with several council members, you are all part of the team and help steer us and provide input.?

This year WEDG had asked for a two percent increase in the contribution from the city, increasing the total funding this year to $22,287. Raber explained the financial impact of WEDG in the city?s projects that the organization had either led or played a significant role in. Raber also pointed out that over the last decade there had been a substantial increase in retail sales tax revenues. Mayor Jaron Rosien said WEDG had been instrumental in many city projects.

Rosien also said there had been some public comment about PAWS and More.

?I had someone ask me the other day why we needed to give so much money to PAWS and more,? council member Steve Gault said. ?I told them that PAWS and More takes care of a problem in Washington and if you don?t want them to then don?t come complaining when your garden gets torn up.?

PAWS and More Is asking for a slight increase to $21,000 this year. According to numbers supplied, the shelter had about $24,000 of expenses last year. Talbott said that the city is also supporting spay and neuter programs.

?Going back to when PAWS and More began and what little they started with, and getting to this point over the years, and how much good they do and how many animals they have saved, they do an amazing job and are so helpful to our community,? council member Elaine Moore said.

The city budget is due to the state on March 15.