Mayor Laurie Gere is proposing a $ 1.8-million city budget increase for the coming year, saying, however, that the city’s sales tax still has not rebounded to the peak achieved in 2007.
Gere, in her budget message to the City Council Monday night noted, “These unpredictable financial times require us to be wise and reasonable.”
The $48.9-million budget focuses on the community’s goals and the city’s facility and in fracture needs, according to her message. Gere said the city city has the potential to be impacted by the state’s efforts to meet education funding requirements. And, she said the state could continue to reduce shared monies, has it has with liquor tax revenue.
In the proposed budget, Mayor Gere proposes hiring a city attorney, public defender and a legal assistant. In 2008, after then-city attorney Ian Munce retired, the city was faced with two vacancies because he also acted as planning director for the city.
At the time, the city decided to contract out the city attorney function while hiring a new planning director. The city also has, for years, contracted the job of pubic defender. Under Gere’s plan, both city attorney and public defender would come on the city payroll.
Mayor Gere is also proposing making the part-time court clerk a full time position while upping the court budget 40 percent.
Mayor Gere noted that she had created an administrative services department, pulling in the human resources director as it’s new chief. The new alignment, which she said, “is working well and better meets the needs of the city,” also includes risk management and the court staff.
The proposed budget calls for a one-percent hike in property tax, the highest annual amount allowed without requiring a public vote. But, she stressed that, “Anacortes remains the lowest taxing city in Skagit County with a 2014 general millage of $1.70/!,000 of assessed value.”