Poulsbo approves budget, lists legislative priorities

The Poulsbo City Council approved the 2023-24 biennial budget Dec. 7.

“I’m a little nervous about this one,” Mayor Becky Erickson said, referring to the uncertainty of the economy.

Councilmember Dave Musgrove added: “We’ve been through this before, this isn’t the first time. I appreciate being on the cautious side.”

Total funds are about $94.6 million. Nearly $34 million will come from enterprise funds, over $25 million from capital projects fund and nearly $27 million from the general fund, says assistant city administrator Deb Booher’s presentation. The rest of the funds will come from special revenues and debt service funds.

Budget changes included wage and benefit rates; adjusted contractual updates; baseline adjustment and new program requests; updated capital budget per Capital Improvement Plan; added new funds for Transportation Benefit District; increased utility tax to 12%; utilizing American Rescue Plan Act revenues, $400,000 per year; transfer to neighborhood streets from Real Estate Excess Tax; and beginning balances adjusted.

New program requests consist of: clerk (new position, existing staff); finance (software capital project planning/lease/debt; police (behavioral health navigator position, detective assignment, officer in charge, mental health program, office dock set-up, capital firearm replacement program); engineering: (parking study, part-time office clerk); Housing, Health and Human Services (part-time administrative support); Planning (casual labor for Comprehensive Plan); Parks & Recreation (Oyster Plant Park study); Public Works (administrative assistant, street maintenance technician, annual sidewalk safety repair, street light LED conversion, promote existing staff to senior foreman position).

Legislative priorities

City lobbyist Bryan McConaughy provided a legislative agenda review regarding Poulsbo’s priorities. McConaughy worked with Erickson to develop the list and the reasoning for them, as follows:

Law enforcement: Over the past couple of years, the legislature has passed bills that impact law enforcement’s ability to do its job safely and effectively. Other changes have negatively impacted crime victims. The city hopes the legislature can work with all special interest groups to resolve discrepancies.

Fish Barrier Removal Board: The city Dogfish Creek project ranks outside of the allocated state funding and by fully funding the Fish Barrier Removal Board that project, along with additional projects in Kitsap County, would benefit.

Co-Responder Outreach: This alliance improves the quality of fire and police co-response through training, professional development and evaluation. The city supports CROA’s request for continued funding. The city also supports CROA’s requests to fund fire-based co-response programs and behavioral health training in crisis intervention.

Capital budget: The city will submit a budget request for Morrow Park for $350,000. The city received a small amount last year for the project and hopes to build on that funding.

Transportation: Poulsbo obtained $3.5 million in additional funding for the Highway 305 Connecting Washington project. Unfortunately, the money was spread over the entire project instead of addressing the Johnson Road roundabout shortfall. Poulsbo will be seeking alternative funding to make up for the shortfall.

Affordable Housing: A housing affordability crisis is taking place statewide. Cities support an ongoing $200 million capital budget investment in the Housing Trust Fund, a $20 million per year local government revenue sharing proposal, and $1.5 million per year for reinvestment of the sales tax from the construction of multifamily development.

Behavioral health: Cities are experiencing the ramifications of an overwhelmed mental health and drug abuse response system. The state needs to make investments sufficient to improve access to those systems and their success.

Military affairs: Kitsap County and Poulsbo have a special relationship with Navy Region Northwest. The city supports and encourages the state to sustain an active leadership role in military affairs and to support capital budget funding for the Defense Community Compatibility Account.

Colleges: The last priority listed was to support Western Washington University and Olympic College budget requests.