Puyallup City Council hasn’t raised utility rates this year to pay for repairing and replacing infrastructure.
But it might in 2012.
Council members spent about two hours at a study session Tuesday talking about how they want to approach next year’s budget, including whether water, sewer and stormwater rates should go up so there’s money to cover broken pipes and other needed fixes.
They also looked at raising the tax on private utilities – like phone and cable – to cover street work, as well as hiking property taxes.
Finance Director Cliff Craig said the city has enough money for operations, but needs to generate more revenue for its aging utility systems and streets. The longer the work is put off the more expensive it’ll be, he and other city officials said.
Council members didn’t make any decisions, but generally asked for options that would generate more money but limit the impact on taxpayers, such as replacing retiring bond debt with a tax increase.
The 2012 budget likely won’t be finalized until late fall, and the council will have several more chances to weigh in. So will the community, including at a public budget session to be held later this summer.
Puyallup staffers are just starting to assemble next year’s budget. Craig said the city is in a stronger position that it was last summer, when officials warned they may have to cut much as one-third of the workforce to bridge a projected $5 million shortfall brought on by the recession.
That didn’t end up happening, although this year’s $36.2 million general fund budget is down more than 9 percent over 2010. It includes a reduction in roadwork and no cost-of-living wage increases for staff, among other cuts.
Craig said he expects the 2012 budget to be status quo, with no new programs or positions, but also no layoffs or major cuts.