GEARHART Gearhart water users within the city limits could see a drop in their water rates this year, because of overall efficiencies in the water system and higher sales.
City Administrator Chad Sweet told the citys budget committee Thursday night that rates could drop as much as $10 on minimum monthly water bills of $42.
He also told the committee that the citys Public Employees Retirement System costs will total $116,000 during the 2013-14 fiscal year, which starts July 1.
That amount is actually down slightly from the current years costs of $129,417.
In 2010-11, PERS cost the city only $13,941, but the PERS rates have increased dramatically to make up for losses the state pension fund incurred several years ago. Only three of the citys nine full-time employees are on the highest tiers of PERS, Sweet said. The remaining employees were hired after the state reduced the benefit levels.
Because more money than was needed had been placed in the citys PERS account over the past few years, the hit to the citys $1.53 million general fund this year wont be as hard as it could have been, Sweet said. The city had a cash carryover of nearly $40,000 in the PERS account, he said.
The largest revenue source for the city is property taxes, which are estimated for next year at $459,789, only a 2 percent increase over the current year.
But lodging taxes are expected to total $180,000, up by 17 percent this year over last years budget, because of an increased number of rooms in the city and higher-than-expected occupancies.
Revenue from building permits, however, is flat, with $92,000 budgeted for next year, which is the same amount budgeted last year.
Property taxes will remain the same at $1.0053 per $1,000 assessed valuation. On a house assessed at $300,000, the citys property tax bill would be $301.50.
In the budget Sweet proposed and the budget committee adopted, salary increases of 1.7 percent, which meet the federal cost-of-living adjustments, are included. He also proposed two 5 percent step increases for two employees and a 10 percent merit and responsibility increase for Public Works Director Mark McFadden, who is managing the citys new water system. McFadden, whose salary would be brought up to $53,766, could earn another 10 percent increase in the next fiscal year if he completes a certification process, Sweet said.
The salary for Sweet, who earns $70,00, will be raised to $75,000, if the City Council approves the proposed budget.
The budget also calls for contributions to several local and Clatsop County nonprofit organizations. They are:
Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District Youth Center, $500
Clatsop County Animal Control, $300
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), $2,500
Seaside Hall, $1,000
South County Food Bank, $5,000
Partners for Seniors, $1,500
Clatsop Community Action, $3,000
The budget committee also agreed to begin building an emergency preparedness reserve fund in the budget for 2014-15. The proposal was made by City Councilor Dan Jesse.
With approval by the city budget committee, the budget will go to the City Council for approval.