Pasco plans fewer capital projects in 2011

PASCO — Pasco plans to start fewer new capital projects in 2011 than the city had planned in previous years.

Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield told the Pasco City Council on Monday that the decrease in new projects was consistent with the city's financial situation.

The city's $30.4 million preliminary operating budget is about 1 percent higher than the 2010 budget, Crutchfield said. That's after uncontrollable cost increases were absorbed and some cuts were made, including eliminating a vacant crime prevention specialist from the police department.

Crutchfield said the statewide failure of the two liquor privatization initiatives helped clear up some of the concern the city had about future revenue.

The city could have lost $300,000 to $700,000 per year in state shared revenue from liquor revenue and a liquor control tax, he said.

But the state still has to determine how it will solve its budget deficit, Crutchfield said.

The city receives about $1 million annually in state-shared revenue that the state could decide to cut, he said.

"There is going to be fallout that we can't anticipate at this point," Crutchfield said.

And when federal stimulus funding ends at Hanford, Crutchfield said the city could see a hit to sales tax revenue, which is one of the major sources for the city's general fund.

In the short term, the city has a fund balance that will help cushion cuts, he said. The city's reserve is estimated to be $5.8 million at the end of 2011.

Meanwhile, the 2011 preliminary capital projects budget includes funding for 50 projects, including 17 new ones. The preliminary budget includes $6.9 million in new projects and added money for ongoing projects.

In 2010, the city's capital budget included 32 projects, with 29 of them being new. About $12.4 million was included for new projects and added money to ongoing projects.

Among the 2011 proposed projects is a $300,000 plan to add a lane to the westbound Interstate 182 onramp at Road 68 and Burden Boulevard.

The Road 68 project is dependent on what the state Department of Transportation allows the city to do, Crutchfield said.

The city also is building the sewer plant expansion in 2011, two years early because of the good interest rate it was able to receive on sewer and water bonds issued earlier this year, Crutchfield said. About $100,000 is budgeted for the improvements.

The city will hold a budget hearing on proposed revenues Nov. 15 and a public hearing on the 2011 proposed operation and capital budget Dec. 6. The city council likely would make a decision on the budget Dec. 20.