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Kelso City Council approves $89.2M budget

Kelso City Council approves $89.2M budget

Kelso City Hall STOCK

Kelso City Hall

The Kelso City Council on Tuesday approved the $89.2 million budget for 2019-2020.

The council held a second public hearing on the proposed budget before the vote, but no one from the public spoke. The previous public hearing occurred on Nov. 6.

General fund revenues during 2017 and 2018 came in at a higher rate than expected, according to the city, but much of the increase was spurred by large one-time construction projects in city limits. The city expects the current economic conditions to continue through the next two years.

Street repair projects budgeted for 2019 and 2020 include a citywide street overlay, a sidewalk improvement program, Haussler Road repairs, West Vista Road repairs and streetlight upgrades.

Larger planned projects like West Main revitalization, Grade Street safety improvements and the South Kelso railroad crossing design and construction are fully funded by state and federal grants.

In addition, the park fund has budgeted about $2.5 million for parking and roadway upgrades at Tam O’Shanter Park and $100,000 budgeted for upgrades at the Catlin Rotary Spray Park.

In other business, the council approved a 1 percent increase in the property tax levy for 2019, which would be about $1.78 per $1,000 of assessed property value for the average homeowner.

The council also approved a 3 percent increase in residential water rates and a 2 percent increase in residential sewer rates. For the average homeowner, the total monthly increase for water, sewer, garbage, stormwater and applicable taxes would be about $3.29.

The council also reappointed Ann Hight to the planning commission. She had previously been appointed to fill a vacancy.

In other business, the council approved:

  • A $91,635 annual contract with Compass Lane, Inc., for onsite computer support services in 2019 and 2020.
  • A contract with Janean Parker Law Office for 2019 and 2020. The proposed changes to the contract include an hourly rate increase from $200 to $225 per hour.
  • A contract with Hanigan Law Office to provide prosecution services for $3,728 per month, plus a flat rate of $500 for the first four jury trials and a flat rate of $650 per jury trial after that.
  • A $74.21 per hour contract with Jacobsen Chevron for fleet management maintenance.
  • Amendments to its animal control code that would make it easier for Humane Society of Cowlitz County officers to handle cases in which animals are left unattended in enclosed vehicles and allows designated city employees to act as animal control officers.
  • The vacation of portions of Elm Street, the alley north of Elm Street, and the alley midway between Yew Street and Laurel Street between Fourth Avenue S. and Fifth Avenue S. to make room for the new Wallace Elementary School.

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