The City of Bethel released its budget for Fiscal Year 2020, and there are a few things that stand out. The city has allocated $1.5 million for a new roof on city hall. Acting City Manager Bill Howell says that the issue is simple: “The roof is leaking and we need to repair it.”
Howell said that the city's engineering firm arrived at the $1.5 million estimate, and that the city would try to spend less than that. Howell also said that there are ample savings in the general fund, enough to pay for the roof and other improvements like paving the city hall and fire station parking lots.
“It’s because the council is very careful to put a balanced budget in place, and that’s why we’ve been able to build up these reserves over the years,” Howell said.
The next budget item is a bit of a roller coaster ride. Both revenue and expense for water increased by over a half million dollars this year, for unrelated reasons. The expenses for hauled water will go up 40% in one year.
“It has to do mostly with we’re using a lot of overtime because we have fewer drivers,” Howell explained.
Howell also mentioned increased health insurance and insurance costs.
There’s a reason residents won’t see a big jump in their water bills. The institutional corridor will start pumping water to businesses along the highway, and the city is expecting to make more money from those customers.
“It also extends fire protection, firefighting water, hydrants all over the Ayaprun campus now and the YK[HC] campus; we’ve never had that,” Howell said.
There’s another new source of revenue in the budget. The city is expecting $100,000 in marijuana taxes. Currently, no portion of that tax money will go towards community action grants like alcohol tax revenue does. Howell says that it is up to city council to decide how to spend the tax revenue from marijuana sales.