Council considers 2023 budget, OK's new utility rates


October 20, 2022

The Cathlamet town council on Monday poured over their preliminary 2023 budgets and gave final approval to new sewer and water utility rates.

The council took no action on the budget; that will occur at November and December meetings.

According to the budget summary, the town expects revenue of $6.8 million, with expenses of $4.58 million, leaving reserves of $2.2 million.

The council first tackled employee compensation and benefits.

Originally, a 4 percent increase in pay was considered, but after discussion, council members agreed that they should consider an 8.63 percent increase based on the current consumer price index (CPI).

" . . . we determined that previous efforts to raise town wages to an appropriate level might be wiped out if we failed to do the full CPI, so we now recommend the full 8.63 percent CPI," Clerk/Treasurer Sarah Clark said.

"In my opinion, your best asset are your employees," commented Council Member Laurel Waller. "I'm okay with 8 percent and full benefits."

"I concur 100 percent," said Council Member Kermit Chamberlain.

Council Members Jeanne Hendrickson and Cece Raglin agreed; Council Member Robert Stowe was absent.

Planned projects for the Public Works Department ranged from improvements to Town Hall and addition of new high lead pumps to purchase of a utility tractor and new maintenance truck.

Waller commented that she had three projects she wanted addressed in 2023--paving the path from the Pioneer Center to Angle Street, improving uneven paths at Strong Park, and adding another light at Strong Park.

Mayor David Olson also presented several projects, including planning and equipping for inclement weather response, improving library lighting and the library parking lot, improving the path at Queen Sally's Park, and engaging a structural engineer, at a possible cost of $30,000, to evaluate the vacant Columbia Saloon building.

Olson noted the building has been unused since around 2002 and needs to be evaluated for safety. Without the study, he said, the town is limited in the enforcement action that officials could pursue.

Council members, however, had concerns about the plan.

Hendrickson noted she is new to the council and lacks background on the issue.

"Before we spend $30,000, I want to know what's going tohappen at the end," she said. "I don't want to spend $30,000 on a building we don't own."

Waller and Chamberlain commented that the building is a landmark on Main Street, and it could benefit from a potential revitalization program.

Town Attorney Fred Johnson said he been communicating with the building owner and that he would write a memo to council members about the situation.


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