Citycouncil examines 2007 budget priorities

Published on Thu, Nov 9, 2006 by ara Nelson

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City council examines 2007 budget priorities

By Tara Nelson

Providing services to a growing population, and developing a plan for growth are top priorities for 2007, Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic said.

In a special session of the Blaine City Council last Monday, council members and city staff discussed budget priorities for the upcoming year. Of those priorities, Tomsic said much of the city’s budget will be slated to such infrastructure improvement projects as the wastewater reclamation facility planned for Marine Drive, continued street improvements, the construction of the planned pedestrian overpass from one of the boardwalk plazas, and a proposed renovation of Blaine city hall.

Council member Jason Overstreet agreed that he would like to see improvements made on city hall, as the building is plagued with mold, leaks and asbestos. “Can we at least put a coat of paint on it?” he said. “We have pretty high standards for the private sector but what about our city hall? I’m not advocating an ivory tower or anything, but maybe just a facelift.”

Tomsic agreed, although he said the current mold problem and the building’s limited capacity were more important issues.

“We have a liability issue now that I have eight employees working in an environment with mold,” he said. “In my opinion, the actual appearance of the building comes third. Another thing I would like to do is get ADA (American Disability Act) compliant doors in both city hall and the library.”

Council member Bonnie Onyon said she would like to see sorely needed improvements made to the city’s skate park. Last month, members of the Blaine Parks Board had revealed that some of the park’s equipment was rusting or missing screws. “It’s really deteriorating rapidly,” she said. “It has got to be improved.”

Blaine Community Development Director Terry Galvin agreed, adding that the parks board is currently looking into the issue.
Council member Charlie Hawkins said he would like to implement a finance plan for growth that places the responsibility on development rather than the existing city taxpayers.

“I think we need to figure out if development is really paying for itself,” he said. “I’ve lived here long enough that I don’t want to pay for the cost of development and a lot of long-term residents feel that way too. We need to look at the impact fees for some of these guys.”
Tomsic also said Blaine residents had expressed priorities during a series of community meetings earlier this year.

Those priorities included growth plans that would allow for the protection of the environment; maintaining small town character and appearance, as well as a way of life that provides safe and healthy place to live; and the ability to attract new businesses and maintain a healthy, vibrant downtown.

City council has scheduled two other upcoming meetings to review the proposed 2007 budget at 5:30 Monday, November 13 and 20 at the council chambers. The final budget will likely be voted on during the first week of December, Tomsic said.

Copies of the 2007 preliminary budget are available for review at the city clerk’s office in city hall. For more information, call 332-8311.