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Bremerton approves reduced budget

The Bremerton City Council voted 9-0 Wednesday to approve a 2011 budget that reduces city spending by 5 percent, largely though employee attrition and salary reductions.

The general fund for 2011 will be about $35.5 million with a reserve balance of $2 million. In September, city departments were asked to cut a total of $1.4 million from their budgets. The city reduced 24 full time positions in the past year by reducing some employees’ hours, offering early retirement packages and leaving vacant positions open, Mayor Patty Lent said.

Other cuts have come from departments reducing business days, requiring furloughs and eliminating overtime and holiday compensation.

The Bremerton Fire Department took a $407,000 cut, but the fire department’s employees’ union is still in negotiating with the city where those cuts will fall.

Prior to the budget approval, the City Council approved a 2 percent increase in both water and stormwater utility fees. Supporters of the measure said the increase was necessary to offset a forecasted 6 percent increase that would have been necessary in 2012 to meet the costs in both funds. The two increases would cause a monthly increase of 52 cents for the average resident, amounting to $196,000 per year for the city.

Lent said this was Bremerton’s first budget written without a financial services director. Former Financial Services Director Barbara Stephenson retired in July and the new director, Becky Hasart, began work Dec. 1. Finance Officer Cathy Johnson filled in as interim finance director.

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