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ML Council OKs $111.5 million 2023 budget

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | November 23, 2022 2:12 PM

MOSES LAKE — At a regular meeting on Tuesday, the Moses Lake City Council formally adopted the city’s $111.5 million 2023 budget, including $15 million to build a new police station on North Central Drive.

The adopted budget is 33% greater than the $83.6 million the city approved for 2022.

“There’s significant support for a new police station,” said City Manager Allison Williams, referring to a summer survey of residents the city conducted.

The largest item in the city’s 2023 budget is the general fund, which pays for regular city operations like police and fire protection, administration, parks and recreation, the library and administration. The council approved a general fund budget of $35.1 million, a 13.3% increase from the 2022 budget, including $11.4 million for the Moses Lake Police Department (up 16.6% from 2022), $5.4 million for the Moses Lake Fire Department (up 9.2%) and $7.5 million for parks and recreation (up 3%).

In addition, the council also approved a water and sewer operating budget of $15.7 million (up 2%), a sanitation budget of $4. million (up 2.8%), and a city ambulance budget of $3.7 million (down 0.3%). All of these operations, however, are paid for by user fees.

The council also approved a $23.7 million capital budget for 2023, including $15 million for the new police station, $3.9 million for sewer and water line construction, $3.7 million for street repair and construction, and $1 million to acquire new water rights. The council also approved debt service payments of $3 million in 2023. The city is also set to spend $2.7 million on homeless services in 2023, a 718% increase from the $285,000 the city spent in 2022.

Finance Director Madeline Prentice said the budget supports improvements in the city’s sewer and water systems, reduces reliance on one-time payments (such as federal COVID-19 assistance) and is committed to relocating and continuing the city’s homeless program.

“The $111 million includes all paid-for activities,” Prentice said.

Of the general fund revenue of $31 million, Prentice said roughly 75% is expected to come from property taxes, sales taxes and utility user taxes. Overall, the city is projecting revenue of $97.8 million in 2023 and will draw the needed $14.2 million to make up the remainder from from an estimated beginning fund balance of $47.5 million, Prentice said.

While the city is committing to a new police department and road improvements, Prentice said capital expenditures for new vehicles were limited in the 2023 budget given that 14 vehicles are already back-ordered and awaiting delivery. However, Prentice also said the city is budgeting roughly $135,000 to purchase a bucket truck for the Municipal Services Department.

The 2023 budget also includes the design of the roundabout at SR 17 and Yonezawa Boulevard; the paving of Lark Street, Luta Street and Virginia Street; the construction of another city reservoir and the installation of solar panels on the roof of the Civic Center.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherals.com.

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