SEASIDE While the economic side of Seasides city budget appears to be on the upswing, the city did suffer some losses this year, noted City Manager Mark Winstanley, who delivered the citys annual budget message Monday night.
We are going to spend a whole bunch of time looking at a whole bunch of numbers, Winstanley told the budget committee, composed of the City Council plus seven local residents. Thats about capital.
But it takes more than capital to run a city, he added. Our employees are our most important asset.
Winstanley took several minutes to talk about employees who retired during the past year, including Fire Chief Dale Kamrath; street foreman Jeff Maltman, who had been with the city for 30 years; long-time utility worker Mike Brewer; and library Director Reita Fackerell.
Winstanley noted that Police Lt. Jason Schermerhorn had left to become police chief in Cannon Beach and had taken communications clerk Laura Yokoyama with him.
Having people with that much experience and that much time with Seaside and trying to replace them, thats the challenge, Winstanley said. Money is always a challenge, but this is even greater.
In addition to retirements, he added the city experienced the sudden deaths of two other longtime employees: Karna Cupples, an administrative aide in the fire department and Mark Agalzoff, the citys street foreman.
It has been an extremely difficult year, Winstanley said. Two employees passed away. Thats never happened before. It has been very difficult for the city, but it is very, very difficult for a family, and thats what we are.
Winstanley did have some good news for the budget committee, whose members will be going over the citys proposed $18.9 million budget during the next two weeks.
First, he noted, the city has its own retirement system and isnt subject to the steep increases other municipalities are facing with the Public Employees Retirement System. Although the city must undergo a legally required review of its system every five years to prove the benefits are equal to or better than those employees could receive under PERS, the city has more flexibility in how it operates its system, Winstanley said.
The city can also react to economic fluctuations faster.
Not long after 2007, we saw in our actuarial reports that things were not looking so good, he said. We started bumping up our retirement contributions then. Now were not seeing quite as dramatic increases as other agencies.
Other good news included better ending fund balances more money at the end of the year to begin the new fiscal year on July 1 than has been available in the past several years. The public safety, public works and 911 funds are healthy, and with last years passage of a five-year fire levy, the departments vehicles will be replaced, Winstanley said.
Lodging taxes on hotel rooms and vacation houses also are up significantly, he said.
However, he added, the community development fund, which gains much of its revenue from building permits and planning fees, is still of concern, and the city may be looking at possible fee increases.
In addition to hearing the citys budget message, the budget committee also listened to requests from local and county nonprofit organizations for funds to help support social services. This year the requests from 12 nonprofits amount to $54,500. Last year, the City Council approved $38,500 in contributions to 12 organizations.
The next budget discussion will be 7 p.m. May 6.