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City, county, schools approve budgets for ’20-21

A poster in Finance Director April Clark's office shows how each tax dollar is spent. (Courtesy City of Warrenton)
By Cindy Yingst, Thursday, July 11, 2019

Warrenton’s city leaders passed a $36.47 million budget that will be used to fund everything from police and fire to public works and parks in the fiscal year that began Monday.

School and county leaders also approved budgets for the year ahead and set property tax levels for their constituents.

The biggest shock for some public entities was a spike in the Public Employees Retirement System funding.

The city budget’s impact from PERS was an additional $185,657 over the previous fiscal year, or an estimated $1.02 million total, said April Clark, Warrenton’s finance director.

Property taxes will fund only $4 million of the $36.47 million budget. The rest of the funding will come from franchise fees (paid by utilities and cable companies), transient taxes (from hotel and campground customers), state shared revenues (taxes on liquor, marijuana and cigarettes), fees and fines.

Some city departments and projects are intended to be funded in full or in part by user fees, such as when developers pay fees for a city planner to review and approve building plans. Water, sewer and trash fees should pay for those services. Gasoline taxes should pay to improve roads.

But in nearly every case, Warrenton’s user fees fall short and the shortage must be covered by the general fund.

Warrenton voters also chose to tax themselves to pay for library services and additional police services.

This year, property owners will pay $1.67 per thousand dollars of assessed value for general government, 33 cents for the library and 28 cents for police.

Grants will cover parts of some projects, including replacing and improving water and sewer services in Hammond and improvements at the Pacific Coast Seafoods plant.

** Warrenton-Hammond Schools

The school board approved a $64 million budget in mid-June that includes a spending plan for the construction levy voters approved last year.

Just over $46 million is being used to purchase property for a new middle school and begin construction.

About $11 million goes to paying teachers and other employees, about $2.3 million will fund food services and other school programs and the rest will pay off already incurred debt.

Property owners will pay $4.59 per $1,000 of assessed property value to fund the school budget.

** Clatsop County

County commissioners approved an $84.42 million budget for 2019-20.

Property tax owners will pay $1.53 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The board also voted to earmark $250,000 from the budget’s contingency fund toward a proposed watershed protection project within the Arch Cape Water District.

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