Property, sales taxes help Connell maintain services

Voter-approved bumps to property and sales taxes will help Connell maintain services in 2012.

The Connell City Council unanimously approved the 2012 budget this week in a 4-0 vote.

The city's $1.9 million general operating budget will include about $125,000, thanks to voters approving the countywide criminal justice sales tax and a levy lid lift for Connell's property taxes, said Steve Taylor, Connell city administrator.

About $54,000 in additional property taxes will support parks and recreation, including making improvements to the so-called blue slide at the city pool and adding another lifeguard, he said.

The council hasn't decided how to spend the $70,000 that represents Connell's portion of the 0.3 percent criminal justice sales tax next year.

The city won't see any revenue from that measure until March because of the two-month lag time between when the sales happen and when the state Department of Revenue sends the money to the city, Taylor said.

In 2013, the amount could be $90,000 or more.

Options for the revenue include possible increased costs to emergency communication services if Benton and Franklin counties decide to regionalize the service, capital projects for police or adding to the police department's staff, he said.

This year's budget includes 19 full-time positions, the same as this year. That includes all city staff -- from police to public works.

Contracting with Franklin County for the city's municipal court services cost about $24,000 this year, Taylor said. No change is expected for 2012.

Public defense cost $7,500 in 2011, and the same is expected next year, he said.

This year was the first full year during which the city contracted with the county prosecutor's office, District Court and bicounty Office of Public Defense for the service.

Jail costs went up -- $22,000 this year compared with about $14,000 in 2010 -- but Taylor said increased jail time prompted the increase because of mandatory minimum sentences. Jail costs are expected to total about $22,000 in 2012.

With all of the city's funds, including sewer, water and street, Connell expects to spend about $8.4 million in 2012 and end the year with about $4.6 million in reserves, according to city documents. The city's overall budget is about 20 percent larger than this year's because of street, water and sewer capital projects, Taylor said.

Among those projects are the reconstruction of West Adams Street, which will add curb, gutters, a storm drainage system, illumination and sidewalks to the two-lane road from Columbia to Sixth avenues. The city is providing about $100,000 of the $1 million project, and the rest is from a 2012 Small Arterial Program grant.

Date Street will get sidewalks between Columbia Street and the entrance to Pioneer Park, Taylor said. The $55,000 project will be funded by a $43,000 federal Transportation Enhancement Program grant, with the city and the Port of Pasco making up the difference.

And a new access road on the west side of the Connell Industrial Area will be built using a $50,000 Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund grant, Taylor said. The city will match that with $50,000.

The road will connect to Garfield Road and improve access to the 210-acre area, of which the city owns 30 acres.

"We are doing what we can to enhance the property to make it more attractive for future development," Taylor said.

The Klindworth and Campbell neighborhoods will have their water mains replaced in 2012 using a $1.4 million state public works trust fund loan and a $540,000 state grant. The neighborhoods are among the town's oldest and have suffered waterline breaks.

And 3,000 feet of sewer main along Columbia Street between lift station 4 at the corner of Columbia and Clark streets near the state prison will be replaced. The $100,000 project will be paid from a settlement the city received after a dispute with Apollo Inc. of Kennewick and Anderson, Perry & Associates.