LONG BEACH - After weeks of deliberation, city of Long Beach staff were able to present the expected 2008 budget to the public at last week's city council meeting.

City of Long Beach Finance Director David Glasson presented a brief slideshow the public, explaining many of the city's goals within the proposed budget. In recent years, he explained that actual revenues and expenses have turned out better than projected, but added that 2008 is projected to be not as great as previous years.

As it stands, the budget plans for an 11 percent water rate increase, and a 3 percent increase for both sewer rates and stormwater rates.

2008 budget expenses include Long Beach fire station improvements, replacement vehicles for the Long Beach Police Department and the city's utility crew, tree control, Jake the Alligator Man's birthday event, a new woodcarving of a crab, a picnic shelter for the Bolstad approach, a John Deere Gator with a broom attachment for trail maintenance, the backflow project, a Seaview valve project, storm drainage improvements, a backup generator for the 3rd Street North storm drainage pump station, additional woodchips for Culbertson Park, dune park planning and improvements, $60,000 in street improvements and $240,000 for the Bolstad Avenue project.

Mayor Ralph Moore opened a public hearing for input on the budget, but no concerns were raised. A second public hearing will be held at the Dec. 3 city council meeting. According to Glasson, the budget has to be adopted by Dec. 7.

City Administrator Gene Miles presented council members with a pre-annexation development agreement with Realvest Corporation, who plans to build condominiums in northern Long Beach. While the property is within the city's defined urban growth area and receives city water services, it is does not have city sewer services.

In January, the city entered into an agreement with several other entities for the construction of a new sewer lift station on 28th Street, which lies just south of the property. Now the city and developer are contemplating annexation of the property.

Council member Betty Ahern made a motion to approve the pre-annexation agreement, subject to the city attorney's approval. The motion passed.

In other business, Glasson also approached council with an agenda bill requesting that the 2008 property tax collection increase remain at 1 percent, despite the state's recent adoption of Initiative 747. Governor Christine Gregoire has asked statewide that all taxing districts only raise their taxes by no more than 1 percent. According to Glasson's calculations, the increase would total $4,570 plus new construction from the period of July 2006 through June 2007.

Council member Gordon Zuern asked if the 1 percent increase would be put in place each year. Glasson responded that it would depend on how the council chooses to vote on it in the future. The bill was approved two votes to one.

Council also waived street improvement requirements for Don and Bonnie Joy along Ocean Beach Boulevard and approved the purchase of a jet trailer for $44,537.20.

In staff reports, Glasson reported that the city audit is now viewable online and that the Edgewater Condo Association appeal would be moved to a later date since it has been difficult to coordinate a time where the city attorney and the land use attorney could both be present.

Water and Wastewater Supervisor Don Zuern said that crews have finished flushing and flow testing 142 city hydrants.

Parks and Streets Supervisor Mike Kitzman stated that crews have been working hard to remove dry rot from the downtown gazebo, as well as putting up Christmas decorations, and cleaning up after the Veterans Day storm. He thanked Oman and Son for donating lumber and Dr. Roof for repairing a dugout at the little league field.

During public comment, Crisis Support Network Executive Director Kristine Camenzind approached the mayor and council for consideration of financial support.

According to Camenzind, the network's 12th Street South office provides 24-hour services to the community of $250,000 per year. She estimated that at least 50 percent of all their cases involve south Pacific County residents, but Long Beach Police Chief Flint Wright said the percentage is indeed much higher.

Camenzind stated that if the city were to fund Crisis Support Network for $200 each month, it would help with housing assistance, parenting classes, schooling, counseling, rental assistance, the emergency shelter and transportation.

Justin Russell, a new Peninsula resident from Olympia, asked councilors what there is to do for kids on the Peninsula and what they plan to do in the future for kids' activities. Moore said Long Beach has a great skateboard park and councilman Zuern added that there are several little league teams in our area and a Boys & Girls Club is in the making. Russell said he would like to find a place that offers dance classes or start up a children's outdoor program in the area, where kids could go hiking or take camping trips.

Providing further explanation, Miles noted that the Long Beach Peninsula Boys & Girls Club intends to bring positive activities to kids. He added that there are great outdoor activities on the Peninsula throughout the year, such as fishing, going to the beach, hiking, clam digging and surfing.

"There's only nothing to do if you don't want to do it," said Miles.

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