The Richland City Council isn't looking to raise property taxes in 2013 despite being allowed to increase property tax collections by 1 percent per year.
But Mayor Pro Tem David Rose during a meeting Tuesday questioned whether the city should continue with its practice of "banking" the 1 percent -- basically preserving the right to collect it in the future even though the city isn't taking the increase now.
Rose said he is concerned the city might "hit a brick wall" when it needs the money, then residents could be hit with a large increase all at once.
"I agree with the philosophy that we don't take it if we don't need it," Rose said.
Councilman Bob Thompson said that in his almost two decades on the council, it always has been the city's practice to bank the tax increase in lieu of collecting it in a given year, but the city has never dipped into that bank even when times were tough.
Mayor John Fox said that not taking the property tax increase gives city staff an incentive to keep city government efficient and live within the city's means.
The general fund budget for 2013 is about 2 percent less than this year's budget, decreasing from about $53.8 million to $52.7 million.
At the same time, revenues are expected to rise 1.4 percent, from about $46.4 million to $47.1 million through a combination of more tax money and user fees coming in, plus transfers from other accounts.
The general fund pays for city services such as police, fire, parks and general city administration.
The city's total proposed budget for 2013 is $250 million, or a 0.6 percent increase from the 2012 budget of $248.4 million.
City Manager Cindy Johnson told the Herald that the budget doesn't cut any city services but does cut a few employee positions from people leaving the city or having their jobs restructured.
The city has 491 full-time equivalent positions in the 2013 budget, which the budget summary said is consistent with what staffing was in 2003.
The next step toward approving the budget is a town hall meeting Oct. 25 at the Richland Public Library.
Richland citizens can read the budget at City Hall or the Richland Public Library or online at ci.richland.wa.us on the Finance Department page.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org