The cost of operating a full-time police department has been much on the minds of White Salmon and Bingen city officials these past few weeks.
Last month the White Salmon City Council amended the city's fiscal year 2011 budget to add around $270,000 in previously unaccounted-for expenditures and revenues.
What White Salmon councilors put off dealing with as part of that amendment, though, was a proposed increase of nearly $175,000 in the Current Expense bottom line to account for unanticipated personnel expenditures in the police budget.
That proposed increase hits home for the city of Bingen's budget too, because of the interlocal agreement for police services with White Salmon under which Bingen pays 32 percent of all Bingen-White Salmon Police Department costs.
The bottom line for both city councils was that the rest of the police budget needed to be scrubbed in a way that brought costs down without disrupting the current level of 24/7 police services.
Following discussions among Police Chief Tony Domish, mayors David Poucher of White Salmon and Betty Barnes of Bingen and city administrative staffs, an agreement was reached to decrease or eliminate other expenditures in the police budget to offset the increased personnel costs. The new proposal increases the police budget by 17 percent, from $673,140 to $781,449, instead of the originally proposed 26 percent hike to $856,305.
Driving factors behind the police budget's growth are increased costs in salaries and benefits (a 2.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment as per the proposed collective bargaining agreement that would be retroactive to Jan. 1), overtime ($50,150) and holiday pay ($18,613) and professional service contracts (updated by $48,000 for police chief and labor attorney contracts).
"The problem is that the original budget in the first place was not well planned," Mayor Barnes said Tuesday. "It didn't include the police chief's salary, it didn't include a 2.5 percent COLA and it under-anticipated the costs of overtime and holiday pay."
She added, "I think both city councils will be looking very hard at whether even this (amended) amount is going to be enough. We need to know that, because we can't start planning for 2012 until we get an accurate picture of what the department's needs really are."
On Wednesday the White Salmon City Council was expected to consider its second budget amendment of the year -- one that would increase the Current Expense budget from $1,851,259 to $1,896,012 (and reduce its 2011 ending fund balance to $82,206), and raise the overall budget's bottom line from $8,691,634 to $8,963,573.
Bingen's share of the Current Expense increase will lift its 2011 contribution to the police budget by $38,180 to $287,413. The Bingen City Council, which set aside $30,000 for law enforcement with an earlier budget revision, planned to take up the latest amendment Tuesday night. The additional $8,180 will draw the city's 2011 Current Expense ending fund balance down to $99,450.
"We knew this was coming, so the council put aside $30,000 because we didn't want to spend money we knew we would need later," Mayor Barnes said Tuesday.
In addition to cleaning up the police budget, the amendment that went before by the White Salmon City Council last night included the following:
An interfund loan related to the Refuse Collection Fund's purchase of a new garbage truck from DSU Peterbilt, totaling $227,187. The City Council approved the purchase on July 20.
Street Fund expenditures of $23,700 related to Dock Grade Road, as approved July 20 by the council. Broken down, $13,700 is for contractual services (geotechnical study by engineers Shannon and Wilson) and $10,000 for improvements.
Grant revenues received by the police department from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs' traffic safety program ($3,500), Klickitat County Economic Development Authority ($4,115 for new radios) and U.S. Dept. of Justice's Bullet-proof Vest Partnership (an additional $2,142).
$40,000 in revenue received by the Fire Department for work performed under a Fuel Reduction Grant, plus $4,000 for services performed under a Fire Protection Grant.