The Chehalis City Council held public hearings and first readings for the City of Chehalis’ 2024 preliminary budget and proposed 2024 property tax levy during its regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 13.
Chehalis Finance Director Chun Saul broke down budget and tax details for the council during the meeting. The budget was approved unanimously while the tax levy was passed by a vote of 4-2, with Councilors Kevin Carns and Daryl Lund opposing it.
As for the budget, $12,918,625 is earmarked for general fund revenue, an increase of $554,360 or 5.4% from the 2023 amended budget. Expenditures are expected to total $13,915,064.
Of the expenditures, 51% is going to the city’s police and fire departments, 12% to facilities and parks, 9% to the planning and building department, 8% for streets operation and management, 5% to the city’s administration, 4% to the city’s recreation department, 3% to the city’s finance department, 3% to the municipal court, 3% for miscellaneous costs and 2% for police officer and firefighter pensions.
Given that expenditures outweigh revenue, the city has a deficit of $996,439, which will be balanced by the 2024 budget’s beginning revenue, $2,040,983.
Despite city staff reducing discretionary expenses while drafting the budget, the cost of insurance, supplies, fuel and various services are still increasing due to inflation, leading to expenditures outweighing revenue.
According to Saul, the fire department also saw an increase in expenditures with purchases of new equipment and the creation of two new firefighter/paramedic positions.
“However, that offsets a reduction in overtime for the same amount,” Saul said.
After revenues and expenditures are taken into account, the city projects it will have a cash balance of $1,044,544 left in the general fund at the end of 2024. The budget will be amended next year as well, according to Chehalis City Manager Jill Anderson, as the city council has discussed increasing permitting fees and utility taxes earlier this year.
“Since those require separate city council action, we thought it best to present the budget as it is and then have the budget amended (later),” Anderson said.
As for the 2024 property tax levy, the city lowered its property tax levy rate from $1.54 per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value in 2023 to $1.33 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The largest revenue source is the city’s sales tax, which accounts for 53.5% of the 2024 budget’s revenue.
Additionally, the emergency medical services (EMS) levy dropped from $0.42 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2023 to $0.36 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2024.
In total, Saul expects the city to collect $1,768,428.64 in property tax levy revenue and $487,030.15 from the EMS levy revenue.
Despite the drops in actual tax rates, the city will still see an increase in collected revenue from the two levies compared to 2023 when the recent increases in property assessments are taken into account.
The City of Chehalis’ 2024 proposed budget and property tax levy can be found on pages 71 and 77 in the Nov. 13 Chehalis City Council meeting agenda, which can be found online at https://www.ci.chehalis.wa.us/meetings.
To view the city’s previous budgets, visit https://www.ci.chehalis.wa.us/finance/adopted-budgets.