What you need to know about the mayor’s budget proposal
A lot has already been written about Mayor Chris Beutler’s proposed budget, but I think what you most need to know is that Beutler wants to:
• Increase the city’s property tax levy by about 10 percent (that amounts to a $42 increase for a $150,000 home).
• Eliminate the Human Rights Division, including an equal opportunity officer, and transfer two civil rights investigators to the law department.
• Double the cost of a parking ticket to $20.
• Increase the wheel tax on cars by $10 — bringing the total to $64 for cars — and increase the wheel tax every year for the next three years, for a total increase of $20.
• Decrease his investment in economic development by $200,000.
• Close a fire station in Airpark that averages one call per day.
• Kick in an additional $1.2 million in funding of the police and fire pension fund.
• Cut library hours by 10 percent, cut five upper-level librarian positions and a library supervisor. Library hours would change to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
• Reduce StarTran service by four hours on Saturdays.
• Make LES pay for street light debt service and insurance — a $4 million hit that will surely impact LES rates.
• Create a “new Municipal Services Center” that will have a revolving fund — I believe this is putting money in an account to pay for the Experian building the city is buying for new city offices.
• Set up a half-million-dollar rainy day fund.
• Add two “community resource specialists” to the Urban Development Department’s staff, at a cost of more than $112,000.
• Cut the city forester position once and for all, ending a process he began last year.
• Cut a permit assistant (who is paid $46,600), chief plans examiner ($101,000) and plans examiner ($83,000) from the Building & Safety Department.
• Cut 10 firefighters, two firefighter paramedics, an EMS management support specialist and an assistant fire chief (formerly John Huff, who is now interim fire chief).
• Cut 12.4 positions from the Public Works department — including two StarTran bus drivers and the superintendent of water pollutions control facilities, who earns $139,000.
Beutler’s budget would reduce the city payroll by 35 positions — eight to 12 of those pure layoffs.
Beutler’s spending plan would be a 2.7 percent increase in spending over current levels.