City of Poulsbo makes every million count

t City puts anomalous

fund carryover to use.

POULSBO — Toward the end of the 2008 budgeting process, the city of Poulsbo literally did a double take.

It isn’t often the city’s general fund winds up with a carryover balance of nearly $2 million. In fact, it’s never happened before.

First brought to the council’s attention in February, Poulsbo’s general fund balance to start out 2008 was $1.8 million in the black — $1.4 million more than had been projected.

Wanting to avoid a too-good-to-be-true situation, both the Finance Department and the Finance Committee went back to check under every rock and stone to make sure the figures were correct, said Council Member Ed Stern.

“We stood in awe of our own good fortune and wanted to double- and triple-check.”

As of Wednesday night, that unusually high amount of carryover has become official.

“The numbers were real,” Stern said. “We had that large amount and we’re going to be putting a large amount into reserves.”

The council did just that, putting $234,080 back into a fund previously used to balance the budget and putting an additional $795,558 into savings. Monies also went to fund budget items previously unfunded.

City Finance Director Debbie Booher said 60 percent of the carryover is due to higher than expected revenues; 26 percent to expenditures being less than projected. Some revenues that affected the carryover: $433,000 more in building permits than expected, as well as $166,000 more in investment earnings and $220,000 more in sales tax.

Stern said Poulsbo is reaping the benefits of the commercial development at Olhava and the boom in housing, as well as carefully managed growth and a sustainable budget.

But both Stern and Booher warned the excess cash shouldn’t be expected to happen again, and it certainly doesn’t mean Poulsbo is experiencing a windfall. Though it’s an anomaly, it still reflects nicely on the city’s conservative financial approach, Stern said.

“The bottom line here is how healthy Poulsbo is,” he said. “The council and the mayor have been very, very good stewards of the public purse.”

And despite the good fortune, the city will continue to bolster its reserves and act conservatively.

“What it is is positive feedback that we’re on the right path,” Stern said. “We will continue those practices that brought us here.”

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