Sedro-Woolley reviews $38 million draft budget

November 10, 2018

SEDRO-WOOLLEY — The Sedro-Woolley City Council reviewed Wednesday the city’s $38 million draft budget for 2019.

The document was released Nov. 1 and is available on the city’s website. The council will discuss the budget and hold public hearings at its Nov. 14 and Nov. 28 meetings.

For the 11th consecutive year, the budget does not include an increase in property taxes but will involve several utility tax and utility rate increases for garbage and recycling services and sewer and stormwater services.

The increased costs for city residents will allow the city to add staff to several departments, including fire and police, and to move forward with projects such as building a new Public Works facility.

“We have made huge steps in this budget ... and unfortunately the way we had to go about doing that was in the utility taxes,” Mayor Julia Johnson said.

Some council members raised concerns Wednesday with the city’s trend of not raising property taxes.

“I think we need to not pride ourselves on not raising property taxes in 11 years,” Councilman Jared Couch said. “I think we need to take pride in our employees and taking care of them. The city is growing and we need to grow with it.”

Johnson acknowledges the city needs to increase revenue as the demand increases for services, such as utilities and emergency response. She said her concern is hitting residents with too many increases at once.

“I don’t want to raise property taxes and utility taxes in the same budget,” she said.

The proposed budget would increase utility taxes 2 percent and also increase utility rates.

The largest rate increase would be 16.4 percent for garbage and recycling services, more than half of which is to account for increased fees for disposing of waste at Skagit County facilities.

Solid waste bills for residents using garbage and recycling services would increase between $3.11 and $7.22 per month. The most common service, a 68-gallon garbage can with recycling pickup, would increase by $5.80 per month.

Sewer rates would increase about 4 percent, which is about 22 cents per 100 cubic feet of material treated.

Stormwater rates would increase about 7.4 percent, which is about 74 cents per 10,000 square feet of housing.

With those increases, the city plans to hire eight firefighters, a police officer to handle evidence, a solid waste operator, an IT specialist and an associate planner.

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