Tonasket City Council approves budget; Hines resigns

TONASKET – The Tonasket City Council approved the city’s 2013 budget at its Wednesday, Dec. 12, meeting, completing a process made ever more difficult by declining revenues coming into the city coffers.

The largest items in the $6,347,033 budget were water project ($1.99 million) and sewer project ($1.37 million) expenses. The water project is funded by Rural Development Interim Financing and the sewer primarily by Ecology and forgivable loans.

Current expenses, at $597,661, which consist primarily of the salaries of city employees, provided the council with the biggest challenge in balancing the budget. The council had originally sought to give city employees a 3 percent raise but instead settled on a 1.7 percent Cost Of Living Increase (based upon the Consumer Price Index to compensate for inflation). The budget also calls for the continuation of full health care coverage, which will increase by $35 per employee per month.

Black receives council’s blessing for spray park

Linda Black gave a presentation on her proposed water spray park, and received the council’s approval to move forward with the project, which Black hopes to have installed at Chief Tonasket Park by sometime in the summer of 2013. Black emphasized that the spray park is not intended to replace the rebuilding of the swimming pool, but to provide the community with an additional water play place. Black said she would be working to raise $200,000 to fund the design and construction. The spray park would be themed to honor Tonasket’s ranch and farm heritage.

Hines steps down

Council member Selena Hines, who was not present Tuesday, submitted her  letter of resignation effective Dec. 31.  The council will be seeking letters of interest for the vacant position which tentatively will be considered at the second city council meeting of the year in late January.