PASCO -- Pasco residents can expect a similar level of service in 2012 as what they have observed this year.
The city's $36.1 million preliminary operating budget maintains services, and while it doesn't add positions, it does not cut jobs either.
The city council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Pasco City Hall, at 525 N. Third. Ave., to receive a presentation about the 2012 preliminary budget.
The proposed expenses are about 19 percent higher than the 2011 operating budget of $30.3 million, but a large portion of that comes from accounting changes and one-time expenses.
The proposed budget does not use reserves for operating expenses, unlike the 2011 budget, said Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield.
But it does suggest using $3.8 million of the city's savings for one-time expenses of paying off a 2002 bond debt. It also proposes paying for a traffic study to review current and projected traffic as well as help identify future projects to minimize congestion.
The city's beginning balance for its general fund likely will top $10 million. It has ranged from $9 million to $10 million for the past few years, aside from 2010 when it was $8 million, Crutchfield said. The city no longer needs to keep the balance that high and can use some of it for one-time expenses, he said.
It will cost about $2.1 million to pay the balance of the 2002 bond city council approved to lower the shoreline levee between Road 54 and the cable bridge, finish city hall's third floor, add fire hydrants and refund the 1995 debt for construction of the baseball stadium at TRAC, Crutchfield said.
Paying the bond early will save $384,000 in interest and improve general fund cash flow by about $300,000 during the next few years, according to the budget message. The city is earning about 0.3 percent interest on its savings and would pay 4.2 percent interest for the remaining 10 years of the bond.
Crutchfield said he considered adding police and firefighters, but he decided against suggesting that because the positions would be reoccurring expenses, but the revenue would be one-time only.
However, passage of the 0.3 percent criminal justice sales tax could mean more police officer positions.
As of Thursday, the measure was passing with more than 61 percent of the votes in favor of the 30-year bump. The next ballot count will be at 6 p.m. today.
The city must prioritize the spending of the sales tax revenue among courtroom space, a new police station and a gang task force, which could include additional police officers, Crutchfield said. He anticipates the city council will consider that next year.
The preliminary budget includes cost-of-living increases for city employees. Union employees receive cost-of-living adjustments each year, but nonunion employees did not receive a cost-of-living adjustment in 2011, Crutchfield said.
The budget does not suggest taking the 1 percent increase in property tax collections allowed by law. That would drop the city's rate from $1.97 per $1,000 of assessed value to about $1.96, Crutchfield said. The city has declined the 1 percent increase for nine of the past 10 years.
A decrease in state-shared revenues also is not included, Crutchfield said. If Gov. Chris Gregoire's suggestion is enacted, the city would lose about $350,000 to $400,000 in the second half of 2012 and $750,000 to $800,000 for 2013 and future years.
The reserve could absorb the initial loss in 2012, which Crutchfield said would give the city time to figure out how to fill the gap for 2013.
The preliminary capital budget would provide $13.2 million for new projects and additional funding of ongoing projects, Crutchfield said.
Of the 52 projects on the list, 22 are new. They include helping purchase land for a new Tri-Cities Animal Control Authority shelter ($203,000), the design to widen Road 68 from Interstate 182 to Argent Road ($80,000) and replacing the city's decade-old software system ($481,000).