The Pasco City Council is seeking comments, both online and in person, from the public on the 2018 Preliminary Budget. City staff presented the 2018 Budget at the October 30 City Council Special Meeting. The Council will hold public hearings on Monday, November 6, and Monday, November 20, both at 7pm in City Hall, to receive comments from the community on the proposals for 2018, with final approval of the 2018 Budget set for the November 20 meeting.
The proposed budget includes a number of important changes, including:
Peanuts Park Restoration: The “Mercado” concept for the Farmers Market area and vision for activating other areas of this historic urban park will serve to identify and support downtown as a regional hub of commerce and a place to experience. The 2018 preliminary budget proposes a sum of $1.539 million to complete design, environmental review and associated public outreach and ready the project for construction. Construction could potentially begin as early as fall of 2018.
Lewis Street Overpass: The realization of this project has been a long-time goal of the City Council dating back to the latter part of the 20th century. The 2018 preliminary budget proposes use of the state funding to update and complete the project design and environmental analysis (NEPA), obtain the necessary Railroad (BNSF) permit and ready the project for bidding.
Oregon Avenue: This arterial is essential to a quickly expanding and robust commercial and industrial corridor. The project involves minor widening, channelization, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, lighting, traffic safety enhancements and landscaping that will improve safety and efficiency within the corridor. It is anticipated that the project will be completed in 2018 with an amount of $7.0 million included in the preliminary budget, of that amount $6.2 million are the result of competitive grants.
Fire Station 84: The City acquired the Fire Station located on Road 48 in the Riverview neighborhood as part of annexation asset transfer in 2016. However, the current facility will not meet future demand projections. The long-term plan is to replace Station 84 with a permanent facility co-located with the park land acquisition and development project located between Road 48 and Road 52 north of Court Street. The 2018 preliminary budget includes funding for design of a new fire station.
Relocation of Fire Station 83: Fire Station 83, which is responsible for serving much of the City west of Highway 395, is experiencing increasing call volumes. The facility has served the City well in its present location since being constructed in the mid-1990s. However, the recently adopted Fire and Ambulance Services Master Plan identified a need for a fire station north of Burden Blvd. and one along the Court Street corridor in the proposed location of Station 84. Relocation of Station 83 will allow to the City to avoid adding a fifth station for several years, or perhaps longer, depending on growth. As with Station 84, the 2018 preliminary budget includes funding for design efforts for a new fire station.
Relocation of the Downtown Police Mini-Station: As downtown Pasco is reshaped, the department is looking to relocate to a more central location in the downtown core. This will allow for higher visibility, increased opportunities for community outreach and interaction, greater convenience to the public and enhanced safety in our downtown.
The City is in the process of purchasing 20 acres between Road 48 and Road 52 north of Court Street to develop a future neighborhood park and to serve as the site for future Fire Station 84. The property is expected to close in 2017, at a cost of $0.76 million. The 2018 preliminary budget proposes a master planning and design effort of $75,000 with construction planned for 2019.
Pasco Boat Basin: The preliminary budget proposes $0.5 million as the City’s share in removing and replacing the remnants of the damaged infrastructure with a new facility. The specifics of this transaction are under negotiation and will require subsequent Council approval.
Animal Shelter Facility: A joint study commissioned by the cities of Kennewick, Richland and Pasco was completed earlier this year which presented options for size, design concepts, and approximate budget for the construction of the facility. The proposed 2018 CIP includes $0.8 million toward the City’s share of the new facility. It is anticipated that design of the facility will be complete in 2018, with groundbreaking a possibility late in the year.
Process Water Reuse Facility: One of the drivers of the area’s agricultural economy, the PWRF plays an important role in supporting the majority of the agricultural processing plants in Franklin County. The coming budget year will see the completion of a comprehensive Engineering and Facilities Plan that will set the course for the facility and the industry, locally, for the next two decades. The $1 million cost of the Plan, associated studies and design of the Irrigation Pump Station and Kahlotus Hwy Force Main and Dietrich Lift Station are largely borne by grants and loans to be serviced by existing and future new system users.
For the major General Fund revenues, the City has experienced positive growth as the overall economy continues to improve:
Property Tax: The City experienced significant gains in new construction with a 51% increase over the previous year. During this same period, assessed valuation of the properties in the City increased by 12% to $4,753,795,881 in 2018. Due to the impact of new construction, increased assessed valuation, and private investment, property owners will see a significant reduction in their general tax levy rate from $1.880 per $1,000 assessed value in 2017, to $1.765 in 2018.
Sales Tax: Sales tax represents the largest single-source of general fund revenue; however, it is also the most elastic of the fund’s three major revenue sources. With an improving regional economy and high construction sales tax, the anticipated revenue for 2018 is $11,500,000. This is an increase of 2.7% over fiscal year 2017.
Ambulance: An Ambulance Cost of Service Study was completed in 2015. The study recommended the Ambulance Utility Fee for full cost recovery to be at $21.13/month. Staff recommended at the time, and Council adopted, a more modest rate of recovery and adopted a rate of $12.65/month. The cost of service study anticipated Ground Emergency Medical Transportation (GEMT) in third quarter of 2017, to supplement increasing costs of the service. The supplemental payments cover the funding gap between a provider’s actual costs per GEMT transport and the allowable amount received from Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) and any other sources of reimbursement. The 2017 budget anticipated $0.8 million of GEMT revenue that did not come to fruition due to delays in finalization of the policy at the state level. The City is on track to apply for GEMT supplemental in the first quarter of 2018. Current budget anticipates receiving $1.75 million in GEMT supplemental for period of June 2016 to December 2018.
An Emergency Master Plan for the City’s Fire and Ambulance services was completed in 2016. The plan identified significant deficiencies in response times to the Riverview area of the City. As noted above, and consistent with the recommendations of the study, the City should plan to develop a fourth station in the Riverview area to lessen response times there and in the northwest portion of the City. Planning, constructing, equipping and staffing of a fully-operational 24/7 station is an expensive, and long-term proposition. In 2017, with this limitation in mind, Council approved improvements to the existing Station 84 on Road 48, sufficient to house a medic unit, but accommodate an engine company in the event funding materialized. This process is expected to be complete by end of 2017. While not optimal, this measure will greatly improve medical response times to the Riverview area.
In 2017 Council also approved acceptance of a competitive grant from Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant program that would allow for an increase in staffing levels at Station 84 to operate fire and ambulance units. This will significantly improve response times to the area, reduce overlapping call percentages and provide credit from the WSRB for a staffed fire unit, essentially taking a major step towards meeting these major City Council goals, including an improved fire rating. Through the numerous actions mentioned above, Council has made tremendous improvement to the safety of the citizens of Pasco.
To accommodate this major enhancement to emergency medical response, and to continue the planned reduction of the gap between fund expenses and revenues discussed during adoption of the current rate in 2015, staff is recommending an Ambulance Utility Fee monthly rate increase of three percent over the current rate of $14.55 to a total of $14.98/month to account for increases in labor and medical supplies. While even a three percent increase can impact ratepayers, it is well below the recommendation derived from the rate study and, more importantly, provides an enormous benefit in terms of community safety in relation to the cost. This graph shows the rate increases per year, as recommended by the cost recovery study. The City increased the rate from $12.65 to $14.55 in 2017.
Water and Sewer: Based on the rate evaluation authorized by the City Council for Water and Sewer completed in 2015 by Financial Consulting Services Group (FCS), multi-year rates were adopted for Water and Sewer. Revenues and expenses related to the two enterprises are as projected, no changes are proposed for Water or Sewer.
Stormwater and Irrigation: As discussed during budget consideration last year, significant need exists for the Storm and Irrigation utilities. FCS completed the rate study for Stormwater and Irrigation in 2017. A Comprehensive Stormwater Plan was also completed in 2017.
Stormwater: City Council heard about the needs of the Stormwater utility in the Comprehensive Stormwater Plan, and funds required to meet critical elements of those requirements discussed during the FCS rate study presentation. 2018 budget has been balanced by using the $0.73/month increase proposed during the presentation.
Irrigation: Irrigation is in need of an increase in rates to properly maintain infrastructure and services. FCS rate study presentation recommended an increase of $2.73/month to $30.03. Council directed staff to review and return with additional options. Staff has reviewed the proposed capital plan and as a result shifted non-priority projects to a later date. The result of this effort has reduced revenue needs to an increase of three percent per year of the over the five year rate cycle and an $0.82 per month increase for system users.
More Information/Your Comments Wanted
City Manager Dave Zabell said, in his 2018 Budget Message, “The preliminary budget proposal as presented seeks to satisfy or make significant progress toward the City Council’s adopted Goals for 2016-2017 by providing for the implementation of important policy decisions made by the City Council through the process of prioritization, recognition and implementation of efficiencies. As with the prior year, this proposal attempts to maximize value through the efficient provision of services while minimizing the level of taxes, rates and fees paid by the citizens of Pasco.”
For a complete summary of the changes proposed, please see the Budget Message via the 2018 Preliminary Budget link below. For more information, contact the City Manager’s office at (509) 545-3404.
Citizens are encouraged to view the budget proposal, attend scheduled public hearings regarding the budget and to contact City Council representatives regarding the development and adoption of this most important document for the City – the 2018 budget.