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Coupeville approves tight 2013 budget

By JUSTIN BURNETT Whidbey Examiner Staff
December 6, 2012 · Updated 9:45 AM
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Times are still tough and with uncertainty about state funding next year, town staff are going to have to forego an immediate pay raise in 2013, the Coupeville Town Council decided last week.

On Tuesday, Nov. 27, the five-member council unanimously approved the 2013 budget in a 4-0 decision. Councilwoman Dianne Binder was the only person not to vote as she was out of town on a pre-excused absence.

As noted by Mayor Nancy Conard, the $5.8 million budget is largely “status quo” as it’s only slightly larger than the $5.7 million plan that was adopted this time last year for 2012.

That fact, and because the council had already poured through the budget in an earlier workshop, resulted in little discussion during the meeting. Whether or not town staff should get a raise was one of the few topics discussed.

It would have been their first in four years and Councilman Larry Cort, who also serves as Oak Harbor’s City administrator, said he was worried about the cumulative impact on their pay over time.

“I’m worried our employees are falling further behind,” Cort said.

Town workers did, however, receive one-time payments in lieu of a raise in both 2011 and 2012.

That amounted to a flat $1,200 payment — before taxes – for about 13 full-time employees and an FTE percentage for about five part-time staff.

Conard’s proposed budget included neither a one-time payment nor a cost of living increase, but she did put together a document detailing how raises at various percentages would affect the city’s bottom line.

It made clear that some hardships could be created for the future, but that it was not impossible.

“I could live with it either way,” Conard said.

She suggested the council delay making a decision now and review the town’s fiscal situation sometime in 2013.

Councilman Bob Clay, who voiced concerns about possible reductions in state funding sources and stagnant sales tax revenues, voiced support for the proposal.

“I’d feel a lot better about that,” Clay said.

Cort also supported the measure but suggested the issue be scheduled now for review after the first quarter.

Included in the vote was an ordinance that increases the budget by 1 percent, as allowed by law. The increase tabs out to about $3,471.

 


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