Budget committee approves $1.96 million city budget proposal

Gearhart considers the 2018-19 city budget.

The Gearhart budget committee approved the city’s 2018-19 budget on Thursday, April 26. The general fund anticipates resources for the fiscal year of $1,958,874, a $12,716 decrease from last year’s budgeted resources.

The budget, largely funded by $561,000 in property taxes, a decrease of almost 2 percent from 2017-18 property tax revenue.

Transient room tax, anticipated to reach about $375,000. While this is an 8.5 decrease from last year’s budget, Sweet said the decrease is due to more accurate estimates of short-term revenues. “We’re bringing that down, thinking we’ll probably see about $325,000 or $350,000 for the coming year,” Sweet said at the meeting.

Room taxes should remain as they were last year, with a slight increase due to greater occupancies and new rooms being built. Building permit budget numbers are estimate to remain similar this year, but may see a future decline as building lands are in decline in Gearhart.

City salaries are budgeted at about $252,000 in the general fund. Budgeted costs for the Public Employee Retirement System are lowered, as most city employees receive retirement benefits from the Public Service Retirement Plan, not Tier I or Tier II employees in the PERS system.

Committee members apportioned funds of $25,000 from the state delegated to area nonprofits.

As call volume to police and fire dispatch services, from 93 calls a year to 490 over a period of 25 years and 40 percent over the past five years, costs for dispatch are increasing, Sweet said. Gearhart shares dispatch services with Seaside, with $22,000 budgeted for police and an additional $20,000 budgeted for fire dispatch, a steady year-to-year increase over the last four years.

State revenue sharing presents $25,000 to the city, giving the city $29,000 to work with added carryover of $4,000. These funds are allocated to Clatsop County nonprofits and community events. The South County Food Bank will receive $5,000 and the city’s 100th-year celebration will receive $4,000, among those organizations budgeted to receive city funds.

Committee members sought to add Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers to the list. The center, which provides housing and support for the homeless of Clatsop and neighboring counties, provides shower services, hot meals and emergency shelter facilities.

“To me that’s a program to help people help themselves, get back on their feet,” committee member Dan Jesse said. “I think that’s important.”

Helping Hands will receive $2,300 from the city.

The Harbor, a women’s resource center based in Astoria, will also receive an increase in funding, from $1,000 to $1,500.

South County Food Bank will receive $4,500, a $500 decrease from this year’s budget.

Gearhart has a “piggy bank” of $67,000 for the police car reserve fund. The city will add $15,000 to that fund this year. Cars are replaced every four years or so, Sweet said, or when they have about 100,000 miles. Police cars are about $38,000, Sweet said, as local dealers provide vehicles at cost. “This year we probably won’t replace one, but next year we probably will at cost.”

The city also plans the purchase of self-contained breathing apparatus for firefighters, considered a necessity for the safety of firefighters when facing indoor blazes. While the city has applied for a grant, the city has a reserve of $183,000 for the $220,000 equipment cost.

The budget is expected to be approved at the June 6 City Council meeting, Sweet said.

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