LONG BEACH - The 2004 budget was passed by the City Council Monday night, and the city administrator said other than a 3 percent hike in water/sewer rates, the budget looks about the same as last year.

Financially speaking, last year the city did "pretty darn well," according to City Administrator Nabiel Shawa. Given the economy nation wide and in Pacific County, the rest of the council agreed.

The city brought in a total of close to $1.1 million in combined taxes and fees and plans to spend close to $1.8 million in 2004. Included in those expenditures are salaries, benefits, supplies, advertising, communication and more.

The council agreed to raise water and sewer prices three percent in anticipation of mandatory improvements primarily to the waste water treatment plant. The city has applied for a grant for one million of the $3.2 million projected for the construction, but Shawa said they may need to raise rates again to make up the difference.

The cost of business licenses was lowered to $100 from $125, but sewer and water connection fees on new construction were raised from $2,000 to $2,250.

It was brought to the attention of the council that five lots located at the corner of 5th St. N.W. and Ocean Beach Boulevard were once zoned S2 but now appear on city maps as R1/R.

The council had no explanation for the change nor any recollection of the change being made. Thinking it might be an error, the council directed the planning commission to look into the possible mistake and make a recommendation on how to resolve issue.

The council also announced the Washington State Transportation and Improvement Board would be releasing a total of $214,360 for design and construction of improvements to Bolstad Ave. between Pacific Hwy and Washington St.

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