Next year’s budget among issues addressed by City Council

Posted on November 9th, 2021 By:

The Gig Harbor City Council passed several resolutions, held two public hearings and discussed the city’s 2022 budget during its meeting Monday. It also heard a presentation by Mary Bridge Thrift Store (Peninsula Guild No. 1) volunteers about the work they do to raise money for the Tacoma children’s hospital, including contributing to a new building scheduled to open in 2024.

Mayor Kit Kuhn announced that signage has been installed on five concrete pylons near txwaalqet Estuary and Harbor History Museum that tell the story of the area’s original inhabitants — the sxwǝbabš band of the Puyallup Tribe.

Kuhn also stated that the city has entered into a purchase-and-sale agreement for 40 acres of forested land west of the wastewater treatment plant. North Creek (aka Donkey Creek) runs through the property, as does a trail that will connect with Cushman Trail. The land is part of the original sxwǝbabš village. The owner wants to sell to the city, and, if all goes well, the acquisition will close on Dec. 28. If the purchase doesn’t go through, the land will be clear-cut and developed with 50 single-family homes. The city will hold a public hearing on the purchase during the Nov. 22 Council meeting.

Interim City Administrator Tony Paisecki announced that the city has made an offer to a prospective parks manager, but needs Council approval to hire the person at a “higher-than-midpoint” salary. They would begin work on Dec. 16.

In old business, the Council adopted Ordinance 1472 to update the city’s Shoreline Master Program. The revised plan includes seven changes recommended by the state Department of Ecology. State law requires that every city’s program be updated every eight years.

The Council also approved Ordinance 1470 updating qualifications to serve on the Design Review Board. Residency requirements were defined as the Greater Gig Harbor area. The number of architects on the committee was limited to one and additional seats will be given to two city residents with “interest and knowledge” of urban design.

Ordinance 1473, amending the 2021 budget, also passed. The major change authorizes the donation of $500,000 to FISH food bank for construction of its new building.

New business actions included approval of the 2022 legislative agenda. Lobbyists Josh Weiss and Annika Vaughn of Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs will focus on Highway 16 congestion relief, acquiring $2 million in state grants for construction of the sports complex, funding for culvert replacements to improve fish passage and clarification of ambiguities in law enforcement legislation adopted by the state in 2021. It also expresses the opposition to efforts to preempt local control with regard to zoning and other issues.

The Council approved Resolutions 1219 and 1220, setting the city’s regular tax levy and an excess levy that will be used to pay down the debt service on the Eddon Boat building bond. According to Finance Director Dave Rodenbach, the bond will be retired in 2024. No public comments were made on any of the issues and all resolutions passed 7-0.

Focus shifted to a review of the 2022 budget of $118,113,082. According to Rodenbach, total budgeted revenues for 2022 are $42.9 million with a beginning fund balance of $56.8 million and inter-fund transfers and other revenues of $18.4 million. Total projected expenditures, minus internal transfers, are $59.8 million. Ending fund balances are projected to be $41.6 million.

Joyce Schultz, president of the Gig Harbor Senior Center’s board of directors, spoke in support of a proposed grant of $100,000 to the group’s capital budget. The president of the history museum’s board asked for support for construction of the Maritime Gallery. Former Councilman Michael Perrow cautioned not to use American Rescue Plan Act funds for city water and sewer projects because not all citizens are on city water and they would not benefit from expenditures for city-owned utilities. The budget ordinance will return for council approval at the Nov. 22 meeting.

A last-minute item was added to the agenda by Councilwoman Robyn Denson and Mayor Kuhn, requesting approval to apply for a Conservation Futures Grant from the state. The ordinance passed unanimously.

The next council meeting will take place on Monday, Nov. 22, at 5:30 p.m. It will be held in person and also via Zoom. The agenda will be posted on the city’s website by Nov. 17.