City manages to end up ahead
The city of Blaine collected more money and spent less than it had budgeted for in 2003, leaving all funds solidly in the black. �I like positive results,� mayor Dieter Schugt told finance manager Meredith Riley at the February 23 city council meeting.
The city realized a windfall in 2003 when real estate sales doubled and the city collected $87,000 more in real estate excise tax than they had planned on in their 2003 budget.
On a more modest note there was a 5.8 percent increase in sales tax collected locally in 2003, which makes up 15 percent of the city�s general fund. Hotel and motel tax revenue also increased by three percent over 2002. On the other hand gas tax receipts were down by nine percent in 2003 compared with the previous year.
While Blaine City Light operated within the parameters of the budget the fund ended the year with less in the bank than it began. Riley said they cancelled a $400,000 transfer to reserves to boost the utility�s operating fund. Some of the difference will be made up this year by only passing on to customers half a decrease in the cost of power from the Bonneville Power Authority (BPA). BPA has forecast a 5.4 percent decrease in the cost of wholesale power and city council is being asked to approve passing on a 1.6 percent decrease to Blaine City Light customers. �We�ve been eating away at our electric fund balance but it�s been hard for us to look at raising our rates with increases coming from BPA, so we�ve held on until now,� said public works director Steve Banham. Since the cost of wholesale power rocketed in 2001 Blaine has raised domestic rates three times but the utility has absorbed several further increases from BPA. This is the second time the city has lowered rates.