The cities of White Salmon and Bingen have approved their respective budgets for 2020 during last week’s series of City Council meetings.
The City of White Salmon adopted its 2020 budget in the amount of $13,410,977, less interfund transfers of $580,024, for a total of $12,830,953 during the Dec. 4 City Council meeting.
The City of Bingen adopted its budget in the amount of $5,637,697, less interfund transfers of $436,042, for a total of $5,201,655 during a City Council meeting on Dec. 3.
The cities of White Salmon and Bingen both agreed to an increase in funding for the Community Youth Center. Both cities doubled their funding efforts. The City of Bingen will now give $8,000 to Washington Gorge Action Programs for the Youth Center opera-tions, while the City of White Salmon agreed to give $12000 to the organization. According to Washington Gorge Action Programs Exec-utive Director Leslie Naramore, the increase in yearly funding will allow the program to support a second employee for more hours of work.
The Community Youth Center, located on Jewett Boulevard in White Salmon, currently supports one full-time and one part-time employee and enrolls 90 children in its program.
“Every year the Center barely squeaks by, this additional funding gives us a little breathing room and ensures that 2 staff are present during the hours that kids are there,” Naramore wrote in an email.
Along with the increase of funding for the Community Youth Center, the City of White Salmon also added $30,000 into the 2020 budget for developing a park plan, $20,000 to purchase a new fire wall and server and $10,000 to cover entrance fees to the Hood River Pool for the 2020 summer season.
According to an agenda memo, the overhead cost allocation for Finance was changed due to the additions. This is reflected as income in the General Fund and expenditures in the Street, Water and Wastewater Funds, White Salmon City Clerk/Treasurer Jan Brending wrote in the memo.
Brending wrote in an email that the biggest change in the budget from 2019 to 2020 is accounting for the Jewett Water Main Improvement project ($3 million-plus project funding by a USDA Rural Development loan) and the engineering for the 14-inch water main line replacement ($750,000) funding by a Public Works Trust Fund loan.
An updated budget for the wastewater improvement project will be included in a budget amendment, that is expected to be approved by the Bingen council during the Dec. 17 council meeting. Bingen City Clerk/-Treasurer Cheyenne Pantoja Wright also explained during the first public hearing on the proposed 2020 budget that the City is also set to upgrade its communications system, including phone and computer services, but that will be voted on during the budget amendment hearing set for Dec. 17 since negotiations regarding the cost of up-grading the system were still occurring.
Alongside the budget, another ordinance approved by the council on Dec. 3 will in-crease the pay for services rendered by City Attorney Christopher Lanz by 10%.
“We have not a lot of income for a city our size and I asked if he would be willing to accept a 10 percent increase because we actually have never given him an increase in his contract in the time that he’s been with us,” said Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes.
The Bingen City Council during its Dec. 3 meeting approved a lease agreement for Mayor Betty Barnes to sign, which would update the City’s postage system.
“Our dinosaur of a postage machine is now going to be obsolete by the end of the year and they will not help us keep it running so we need to get a new one and this is kind of their basic package,” said Pantoja Wright during the Dec. 3 meeting.
Pantoja Wright said the price is comparable to the system the City is using currently. The City will continue to contract the services of Pitney Bowes, a company out of Stamford, Conn., that provides commercial and infrastructural services.
“[The cost] actually decreases a little bit because they tried to upsell us on a couple of things and we just don’t need super high volume, so it works out pretty well,” said Pantoja Wright during the Dec. 3 meeting.
Pantoja Wright said she believed the monthly cost to the City would decrease by $20 as a result of City officials declining extra features.
Another budget amendment for the City of White Salmon is expected to be presented to the City Council in the early months of 2020 for the purpose of accounting funds received through a TIB grant that will allow the City to begin reconstructing two blocks of road on Garfield Street from Jewett Boulevard to Washington Street and replacing the water main line underneath the road.