City Council Roundup | Budget Retreat
Posted on 08/21/2019

The Newcastle City Council roundups offer a digest of notable items for those who can't make it to the regular meetings. View the retreat agenda packet here. and listen to the audio here. View past City Council roundups at newcastlewa.gov/councilrecaps.

The Newcastle City Council reviewed preliminary revenue and expenditure forecasts, and discussed the 2020 budget during its annual budget retreat on Aug. 15.

The City Council retreat is a normal part of the budgeting process that sets the stage for the City Manager’s October presentation of the preliminary budget for the following year. The retreat is an opportunity for the Council to review early budget numbers and provide staff direction on what to include in the 2020 budget.

As the City looks to solve forecasted financial challenges, the 2020 preliminary budget, which will be presented to the Council in October, will condense the roles of two employees into one position. The roles of the Community Activities Coordinator and the contracted Communications Coordinator will be combined in an effort to cut staff costs.

Staff initially proposed a $25,000 temporary employee to help this position with summer events and maintain residents’ expected level of service. However, during the retreat, the City Council and staff agreed that an active, energetic volunteer Community Activities Commission makes this extra expense unnecessary.

The City Council also preliminarily approved Police Chief Jason Houck’s request for an additional officer to protect Newcastle’s growing City and address residents’ biggest concern – traffic complaints. The 2020 budget proposal will allocate funds for a motorcycle officer. They also chose to keep a vacant accountant position funded in the preliminary budget. The position would help the City’s under-staffed Finance Department make sure Newcastle is receiving its owed sales tax and development revenue. This issue requires a higher level of oversight, in part, because of the U.S. Postal Service's long-held stance of denying Newcastle's request for a unique ZIP code. Staff said this position would likely pay for itself with improved enforcement of businesses and contractors paying their required fees to the City of Newcastle.

The Council looked over projected revenues and expenditures in the City’s six-year forecast, however, time ran out before they had an opportunity to thoroughly consider adding any possible revenue streams to bridge the projected fiscal gap. Councilmembers will continue to discuss and refine the budget before final approval, which is anticipated to occur in November. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the budget during public hearings later this year.

The Newcastle City Council wants to hear from you! Members of the public are invited to share thoughts during public hearings or two open public comment periods at meetings. Regular meetings of the City Council occur on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at City Hall, starting at 7 p.m. You can also email your thoughts to Councilmembers. To send a message to the entire Council, email citycouncil@newcastlewa.gov. You can also email them individually (view all Councilmember emails here).  

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