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Grand Coulee eyes $4.4 million budget


It will take nearly $4.4 million to run the city of Grand Coulee next year, according to a budget prepared for the city council, which took a look at it last week.

That’s just about a break-even amount that includes nearly $1 million for fixing streets. The city expects to take in just under $4.5 million, including more than $637,000 in taxes and $955,000 for goods and services, including water and sewer.

The Grand Coulee City Council was presented the preliminary budget at their Dec. 4 council meeting, with a final budget hearing scheduled for Dec. 18.

“The Mayor, finance committee, myself and the department heads worked hard to budget to expected revenues so as not to affect the beginning fund balances,” City Clerk Lorna Pearce said in an email to those receiving copies of the preliminary budget. “We accomplished it in some and have a couple that will be reduced by less than $6,000. I personally feel this is awesome!”

The $4,368,412 in expenditures for 2019 is up $1,170,267 from the $3,198,145 budget in 2018, mostly due to planned street construction. A large portion of that increase is from the $969,248 in street construction being paid for with $853,990 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster assistance grant, with the Transportation Improvement Board paying the $106,750 match for that, as well as $8,508 for chip sealing.

The $4,468,937 revenue budget for 2019 is up $894,033 from the $3,574,904 budget in 2018.

Other increases are “due to salary and benefit increases and increases in overall operation expenses,” Pearce explained.

Objects of note include the $144,480 Grand Coulee brings in for providing law protection services to Electric City, and the $583,319 Grand Coulee brings in from the United States Bureau of Reclamation for the same.

Ambulance service fees brought in about $140,000 in 2018. There have been a record number of 463 ambulance calls in 2018, and the year is not over.

Law enforcement has $65,000 budgeted just for overtime pay.

Traffic fines brought in a little over $6,000 in 2018 so far.

Councilmembers Tom Poplaw-ski and Gary Carriere are on the budget committee.

Poplawski estimated that over 50 percent of the budget goes into salaries, wages, and benefits alone.

Poplawski also suggested using money generated by the ambulance service to support that and possibly fire department expenses, rather than having the money be used to balance other areas of the budget.

“I’d like you to really scrutinize it,” Poplawski told his fellow councilmembers. “Look at this thing and really look at the dollars, see if there’s ways to manipulate it better.”

“One of the things that isn’t talked about is our aging street equipment,” remarked Mayor Paul Townsend. “We have some significant expenses coming up.”

Rick Paris, head of the fire and ambulance services, expressed concerns about needing a new ambulance in 2020. There is $15,000 in the 2019 budget for the ambulance reserve fund.

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