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Poulsbo nears end of 2004 number crunch

POULSBO — With just two months left before it must pass a 2004 budget, the City of Poulsbo will soon give the public the opportunity to weigh in on its finances.

Poulsbo’s preliminary budget for 2004 will be available for viewing at City Hall beginning Nov. 4 and public hearings on the document are expected to run Nov. 5-19. Although the city rarely receives any public feedback, Finance Director Donna Bjorkman said she encourages community members to have a look at the budget before it is passed.

“I’ve been here 13 years and normally we don’t get many questions or comments,” Bjorkman said of the budget hearing process. “That’s good. Although sometimes you’d like them to take a little more interest. It’s an awful lot of work.”

The City of Poulsbo’s overall budget for 2004 is about $27.27 million, which includes things like the general fund, utility funds, debt service and capital projects. This is compared with a total 2003 budget of $30.17 million.

Within the overall budget is included:

•A general fund of $6.3 million compared with $6.07 million last year

•Capital projects totalling $5.92 million compared with nearly $6.4 million last year

•Debt Service of $699,983 (PFD fire hall, bonded transportation projects, Public Works trust fund loans) compared with about $1.1 million last year

The preliminary budget does not yet include level of service increases or new program requests. The city council is expected to vote on those items on Nov. 12.

Bjorkman said the most noticeable difference between the 2003 and 2004 budgets is the capital projects line item. This is due to the large and costly capital projects the City of Poulsbo undertook in 2003, including the Lindvig Bridge project and Finn Hill widening.

The other difference, Bjorkman said, is that there will likely not be a repeat of last year’s budget cuts.

Just before the 2003 budget was passed last year, departments were forced to trim 4.8 percent of their budgets until carry-forward numbers were known. That cut amounted to nearly $169,000 city wide.

In March 2003, an available carryover amount of $121,000 was announced after necessary expenditures were paid out of the total nearly $753,000 carry-forward dollars. The Poulsbo City Council decided to redistribute about $83,000 of that amount, leaving almost $38,000 in reserve.

“Our budgets are based on those reduced amounts and the only difference is increases in (Consumer Price Index) and salary steps,” Bjorkman explained of this year’s budget.

Upcoming public hearings and council workshops on the 2004 budget conclude nearly one year of work on the document, which by law must be passed by Dec. 31.

“Then it normally takes about two months to get everything ready to send to the publisher and then the budget analyst can go on vacation for a couple of weeks and get back in time to start working on the 2005 budget,” Bjorkman said with a chuckle.

The preliminary budget will be available for public viewing between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday beginning Nov. 4 at City Hall. For more information, call (360) 779-3901.

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