Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler recently released his proposed 2020 budget for the City of Bremerton.
In the budget proposal, Wheeler makes homelessness, mental illness, neighborhood safety, and affordable housing a priority by continuing $100,000 in funding for a rental assistance and eviction prevention program for those faced with housing instability. Wheeler also included $100,000 in weatherization assistance to reduce energy costs for low-income residents.
Wheeler also expanded the senior low-income subsidy program for 2020. Seniors over the age of 62 with a total income of up to $40,000 are now eligible, which is an increase of $10,000 over the previous year.
“This change will increase the number of low-income seniors who receive assistance with their water and sewer bill payments in our city,” Wheeler wrote in a press release.
Funding in the new budget proposal will also aim to help remodel and update parks, including the Warren Avenue Playfield and Kitsap Lake Park, which have been in need of renovations over the past several years, according to Wheeler. Funding for these areas will increase from $8.7 million to $12.2 million.
“These funds will help manage traffic flows, fix streets and increase walkability for individuals and families in our neighborhoods,” Wheeler wrote.
In terms of public safety, Wheeler added three new firefighter/EMT positions to help keep residents safe and to reduce emergency response times.
Wheeler also increased the Business & Occupation exemption from the rate of $200,000 to $240,000 this year to support businesses and promote job growth. This effort backs Bremerton City Council’s code revision in 2012 to eliminate the tax with annual increases in the exemption.
“My budget doubles the exemption from the standard $20,000 to $40,000 for the year, creating more savings for businesses to reinvest back in Bremerton in the form of jobs and business expansion,” Wheeler stated in the release.
Over the next few weeks, Wheeler will be working with the Bremerton city council to review the budget before adopting the document. The public can share their comments on the budget proposal at upcoming council meetings Nov. 6 and Nov. 20.
“With this budget, I will continue the momentum to support a thriving community that serves the needs of residents while ensuring the city remains in strong fiscal health,” Wheeler stated.