City councilors unanimously adopted the city’s budget Wednesday night.
Among the additions, the City Council approved hiring a full-time entry-level firefighter at a salary of $40,000 per year, with an additional $35,000 designated for benefits and a retirement plan. A paid firefighter could show a marked change in the department, which has primarily relied on volunteers.
“We’re looking for the best fit in Gearhart,” City Administrator Chad Sweet, a fire department volunteer, said of a potential candidate.
He added he expected the search to include both people from within and outside the community.
With a general fund of almost $2 million, Gearhart’s budget is $300,000 higher than the previous year, Sweet said.
Increased revenues come from an increase in home values of between 2 and 2.5 percent, with the addition of funds from the taxing and fees associated with short-term rentals. About 84 homeowners have signed on to the city’s short-term rental program in the residential zone, with about 285 short-term rentals for all zones, equating to about 15 to 20 percent of total dwelling units in Gearhart.
The city’s permanent rate is $1.005 per thousand dollars of assessed home value. Also included in the new fiscal year’s budget are slight increases in Gearhart’s unfunded liabilities for the state Public Employees Retirement System of about 3 to 4 percent, Sweet said.
The budget was passed without comment from the public or councilors.
“This is my first time working on the city budget and I thought the process went very well,” Brown said after the meeting. “Our budget committee was great to work with and our city administrator does an excellent job of managing the budget and expenses each year. The city is in a strong financial position.”