City tax rates decrease for 2005

For those few willing to wait long enough to hear it, Bremerton’s director of financial services Michael Wilson announced that the city’s tax rates will decrease by 6 percent in 2005 and the budget will drop by 9 percent.

Wilson addressed the City Council during its weekly business meeting on Wednesday at the old City Hall, 239 Fourth St.

The current tax rate, which is $3.02 per $1,000 assessed value, will drop to $2.84 per $1,000, because of the state regulation, which limits a city’s annual increase in property tax revenue to one percent, Wilson said.

The Council approved the rate changes 7-0 with one abstention.

The city’s proposed 2005 budget will be about $130 million compared to its $143 million budget for this year.

“This decline is primarily because of reduced costs associated with the conference center and a reduction in wastewater capital projects in 2005,” Wilson said.

Even though the overall budget is decreasing, the city’s general fund is expected to see an increase of about seven percent, he said.

“Property and sales taxes are expected to remain steady, and gains are anticipated in utility, building and occupation, and real estate excise taxes,” he said.

The proposed 2005 balance is balanced and maintains city services at their current level, Wilson said.

“This is a work in progress that the City Council is just now beginning to put its input in on,” said Council President Daren Nygren.

The Council will continue its work on the proposed budget during study sessions throughout the remainder of the budget process, Nygren said.

With the budget process just beginning, the Council took the first step toward finalizing the city’s new comprehensive plan.

Director of Community Development Chris Hugo made a formal presentation to the Council that provided an overview of the proposed plan.

“This is a special evening for the city of Bremerton and it is a special time for the Council as it is not often that a council has the opportunity to set a city on a new path,” Hugo said.

State law requires that the comprehensive plan be updated no later than Dec. 1, he said.

“I think Bremerton is the only city that has taken the bold move and abandoned the old plan and developed a new plan,” Hugo said.

At least one Bremerton resident expressed doubts about the city’s proposed comprehensive plan.

“This course of action the city has embarked on is one that probably won’t work too well, because the market doesn’t support that kind of development,” said William M. Palmer, of Bremerton.

Palmer said he spoke with several local developers who have expressed reservations about the new comprehensive plan.

“I think in 10 years we will be looking for a different solution,” Palmer said.

Councilman Mike Shepherd said he hopes that the new comprehensive plan will work, because past plans have not been successful either.

“Previous planning documents were hastily put together and shelved, but that has changed since ‘95,” Shepherd said. “We need to take a different perspective to this.”

At the conclusion of Council members discussion, the Council voted to continue the public hearing on the comprehensive plan at its Nov. 17 meeting.

The Council will conduct its final business meeting in old City Hall at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at 239 Fourth St.

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