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Washington Voices

Liberty Lake Update: Mayor shares proposed budget

Liberty Lake Mayor Wendy Van Orman unveiled her proposed budget Tuesday night, two weeks earlier than last year and earlier than what the state requires.

Of note, sales tax revenues in the city are up 14 percent and the mayor expects to cut the 6 percent utility tax down to 3 percent.

She highlighted the city’s accomplishments of 2011, noting the Police Department had finally added a new security fence to its headquarters and the purchase of two new police vehicles which had been deferred in years past.

Van Orman also noted three new hires for the city: Finance Director RJ Stevenson, Parks and Open Space Superintendent Jennifer Camp and golf pro Chris Johnston.

She suggested paying off some of the city’s debt, either by paying off the debt acquired when the city purchased City Hall or by paying off the debt incurred by the purchase of 6.4 acres of land.

She noted the city will very likely see a 3.4 percent decrease in funding from the state.

The mayor’s budget also included $160,000 per year for the hiring of a new city administrator, whether Proposition 1 passes or not. The city has been without a city administrator for the last five or six years. Van Orman said whoever the city hires should be able to step in and serve no matter the outcome of Prop 1, which would change the government from a strong mayor/council form of government to a city administrator-led form of government.

She expects the city to hire a new project planner using funds received from a grant, spend $50,000 on another new police vehicle and $130,000 for a new records management system for the Police Department, and start phase two of the city’s arboretum.

The total budget for 2012 would be $7,175,654 with a general fund of $5,139,924. It’s a 10 percent increase over the 2010 budget.

She said she feels the budget is “(not only) fiscally prudent, but an investment in what makes us special.”

Van Orman instructed the council to take the next two weeks to look over the proposal. At the next council meeting, the city’s department heads will layout their goals for the future and accomplishments.

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