Second public hearing set for city budget

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


People of the City of Washington will have another chance to give input on the proposed FY 2019 budget after a clerical error is making it necessary to hold a second public hearing on the budget before sending it to the state.

During the regular City Council meeting Tuesday evening, the council approved the public hearing for the April 3 meeting. City Administrator Brent Hinson explained that when the city was putting together the final budget information, the city had found an error in the state?s formula, so the budget was not calculating right. He said in the interim, the city had submitted its publication notice, which was published with the wrong tax rate.

?We got everything fixed,? Hinson said. ?The state actually had to go fix their spreadsheet in order for us to complete things. What you saw in your packets at the budget hearing was the correct tax rate and everything was correct at that point.?

Hinson said the state had allowed an extension to turn in the budget. He said that another budget hearing would be necessary before the budget can be turned in to the state. He said the hearing would be on the budget that the city had already approved.

Under the proposed budget, Hinson said the tax rate for the city would remain the same for the seventh year. The property tax levy will remain at $15.82 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. A 3 percent average salary increase for non-union staff is budgeted in. The net increase in general fund spending is projected to be 3.25 percent.

Also at the meeting the city approved awarding a contract for building demolition on the site that will hold the future Washington Fire Station. Hinson said the permit was for three houses and a garage. He said the demolition would involve the burning of the buildings. The council also approved the site plan for the fire station. The city?s planning and zoning committee had recently recommended the site plan be approved.

The proposed designs total $2.5 million for the new fire station and about $1.2 million for the renovation of the municipal building.

Hinson said the project is being done with existing money so no tax increase is required, nor is a bond referendum.

The council agreed to the plan after a proposal to use the former library building as city hall was rejected by the previous council.

The new plan calls for the construction of a new fire station and will house the police department and city hall in the current municipal building.