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2005 budget passes initial muster

The Bremerton City Council slogged its way through the initial approval of the city’s 2005 budget on Wednesday night, even though several issues remain before the budget receives final approval.

“I’m willing to vote for this budget now, but I won’t do it next time unless several issues are resolved,” said Councilman Cecil McConnell.

One of those issues is changing the police department’s traffic safety coordinator position from a contract position to a full-time position with city benefits.

“I don’t think we should make the position full-time without having long-term funding for the position,” said Councilman Mike Shepherd.

However, Councilman Brad Gehring said that he supports the proposed change because it adds value to the city.

“I do believe there is particular value added with this individual,” Gehring said.

McConnell said the cost of making the position full-time is minimal and that currently the position is in violation of state laws.

“We either need to eliminate the position or make it legal,” McConnell said. “We can certainly afford $10,000 to make it legal.”

One issue that was apparently resolved before Wednesday night’s meeting was the distribution of the hotel/motel tax.

“I think we need to start focusing on the hotel/motel tax and I think the issue should be on the table throughout the year,” said Council President Daren Nygren.

Under the compromise reached by the Council, the conference center would receive $100,000 from the hotel/motel tax revenues with the remaining $75,000 being distributed among the agencies requesting funding.

Olympic College’s Washington State Engineering and Science Fair is set to receive $2,000 and the historic ships society and historical museum will receive $11,000 each, which is $2,000 less than requested.

The Bremerton Chamber of Commerce and Kitsap Visitor’s Convention Bureau were dealt the biggest cuts as the chamber’s funding was dropped from $44,000 to $29,000 and the visitor’s bureau’s funding was dropped from $35,000 to $22,000.

Sylvia Klatman, director of the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce, thanked the Council for the funding it was able to provide her organization.

“We know you had difficult decisions to make with the conference center, but we do appreciate your support with the limitations you had,” Klatman said.

At the conclusion of more than hour of discussion and several attempted amendments to the budget including a proposal to add an assistant to the mayor’s office, the Council approved the first reading of the budget 8-1 with only Councilman Shepherd dissenting.

The Council will meet again at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 8 in the Council Chambers at the Norm Dicks Government Center, 345 Sixth St.

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