Poulsbo’s set on frugal path

City worker Carly Michelson, left, chats with Linda Shaw in her office at the current city hall building. Shaw’s office is in a converted data closet at the facility.  - Brad Camp/Staff photo
City worker Carly Michelson, left, chats with Linda Shaw in her office at the current city hall building. Shaw’s office is in a converted data closet at the facility.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff photo

AA bond

rating will

save cash in city hall project.

POULSBO — It was all about the Benjamins Wednesday evening at Poulsbo’s city hall, where the Finance Committee and City Council convened over budgetary and city hall bonding matters.

On the verge of putting together a budget document for 2009, it’s a conservative approach the city plans on taking — which many of its leaders say has boded well for them in the past.

The city recently received an AA bond rating in its city hall project funding process, a two-step bump that will allow the city to save on insurance. The rating was a result of careful financial planning, Council Member Ed Stern said, that’s a track on which the city plans to continue.

In keeping with those efforts, the Finance Committee recommended budget planning projections in the categories of sales tax and real estate excise tax revenue be lessened by 7.5 percent from 2007 revenues to accommodate a slowing market.

City Finance Director Debbie Booher reported sales tax paid in July and received in September was down nearly 4 percent (roughly $11,000) over the same period last year. Despite the numbers, however, the city is running relatively on course, she said. Year-to-date findings are in line with last year, and actual dollars received are slightly higher than current projections.

“I feel good that we were very conservative about our 2008 estimate and we’re meeting it,” she said.

Stern said the budgetary approach isn’t a reactive one, but one intended to steer the city in continued financial health. He said the city’s revenues are diversified, and the council is in agreement on monetary prudence.

“We’re not reacting, we’re leading,” he said.

Booher said heading into budgetary planning, the Finance Department and committee will review every expenditure line; unlike other municipalities, Poulsbo’s council members take “ownership” in the process.

“This is what a working budget group should do,” she said.

The city is also holding back on taking out bonds to pay for city hall. Of the $16.9 million expected price tag dollars, $9.5 million are planned for bonding, however current market status is leaving less-than-stellar interest rate options.

“We have that luxury of waiting,” said Booher. Because the city has the cash flow to fund current project operations, it will wait until the market settles, and aim at obtaining the lowest rate possible. So far, she added, project spending has come in under projections.

Project Manager Gary Tusberg reported to the council site demolition is now complete at the future city hall site of Third Avenue and Moe Street. Site excavation has begun, meaning through the month 14,000 cubic yards will be unearthed. Construction documents are also in their final stages, he said.

Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade requested the council meet this month for a special workshop in regards to the project. She said Thursday the four- to six-hour meeting is meant to be a full-council review.

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