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Valley’s revenue forecast promising

Wed., Aug. 10, 2005

Projected Spokane Valley revenues for 2006 are looking a lot like revenues in 2005 – not too bad, according to the city’s finance director.

At its regular meeting Tuesday night, the Spokane Valley City Council took its first look at budget projections for 2006.

Expenditure estimates peg the city’s budget at $60 million for next year, down about $4 million because of the completion of the Centerplace Community Center this fall and the county library district’s takeover of Valley library administration.

In addition to funding city projects for next year, the budget sets aside $1 million in reserves to maintain services in years when the economy takes a dive.

“At this point we have an opportunity to put money aside so we have some way to deal with those without massive layoffs,” said city finance director Ken Thompson.

The city also set aside $500,000 for snowplowing and other costs associated with unexpected bad weather.

“A lot of cities can’t afford to do that,” Thompson said.

Revenue projections for next year are more optimistic than in years past, partly because the city has more years behind it to base estimates on.

“They were way too conservative a year ago,” Thompson said of the original 2005 budget projections.

He said he thinks revenue estimates for next year will be closer to the actual numbers than in years past.

Next year, it is estimated that sales tax receipts will increase 10 percent over this year to $15.4 million.

“As long as the economy stays up where it is now, I think we’ll do well,” Thompson said.

Also, recreation fees will likely double after Centerplace opens and its rooms are rented. Figures on the annual operating costs for the facility have decreased from original estimates of between $300,000 and $400,000, officials said. New estimates put the yearly cost to the city after rental revenue at closer to $200,000 per year.

The budget does not include $300,000 to $500,000 in revenue from a new fuel tax, which will face a vote this fall because of an initiative that made it onto the ballot.

In the expenditures column, budgets for the building, planning and public works departments will increase moderately because of new positions created to keep up with permitting and other tasks.

The city’s budget for legal advice will actually decrease slightly, even though it hired a new city attorney previously employed by the city of Spokane. Thompson and others said the city had been paying roughly the same amount to a law firm for a set number of hours of legal work in years past.

“We’ve been holding our expenses very tight,” Councilman Dick Denenny said after the meeting.

The next step in the budget process will be a public hearing on city revenues at the Aug. 23 council meeting. Additional public hearings on the budget are scheduled for October.


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