City budgets for infrastructure, 2.2 percent COLAs in 2017 preliminary budget

Langley’s 2017 $6.6 million preliminary budget includes improvements to city streets, a new water main and a 12 percent sewer rate increase that will help fund improvements at the wastewater treatment plant.

The budget will be finalized over the course of two city council meetings on Nov. 21 and Dec. 5. The budget will be available to the public online Nov. 18, while hard copies can be picked up at the meetings.

Callison said the budget’s focus was about sustaining and operating the city rather than looking to make large investments in the city’s infrastructure.

“We don’t generate the kind of revenue to do a big sewer project or stormwater project or that kind of activity from revenue alone,” Callison said. “We have to find grants and other matching monies to do those kinds of projects or we have to go out for a levy lid lift.”

Federal and state grants will cover most of the cost for two street projects planned for 2017 totaling $555,000. They include the reconstruction of the intersection at Sixth Street and Cascade Avenue, and the building of a concrete sidewalk on First Street to Debruyn. The city will spend only $54,500 as matching funds for the projects.

An $85,000 replacement of a roadside mowing tractor will also take another chunk out of the street fund’s $751,115 total revenue.

A replacement of an old asbestos water main on Second Street from Anthes Avenue to Debruyn will cost $390,000 and will be paid for with money from the water capital reserve fund.

No capital projects are on the docket for stormwater, but an additional $40,000 from the operating fund has been moved to the reserve fund to finance future capital improvements that have yet to be identified.

The city will also replace a programmable logic controller at the treatment plant in 2017 for $175,000, which was identified as a need during an update of the city’s 2016 comprehensive sewer plan.

Increases in funding to the parks department will cover the promotion of a half-time to a full-time employee, additional maintenance and a wetlands assessment for the Middle Earth trail as recommended by the Parks and Open Space Commission.

Other personnel additions in the budget include more hours for a planning intern and a 2.2 percent cost of living increase for all 14 employees at City Hall, which will cost around $11,000. The city is also looking at a possible 1 percent merit increase, documents show.

Tax increases include a two percent hike in stormwater, a one percent jump in property taxes, and a slight raise in sales tax. Property and sales taxes will generate $416,732 and $342,193 in revenue in 2017, respectively, while the third largest tax revenue, a six percent utility tax, will bring in $92,125.

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