City council passes budget

Donelle Pardee Whiting

Washington City Council members approved a $16.4 million budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year, which begins May 1.

Although rising energy costs accounts for a major portion of the city’s expenditures, the new budget is $1.6 million less than last year.

Electricity costs jumped from $275,000 in FY 2005-06 to an estimated $472,000 in 2008-09.

The new budget calls for $7 million in capital projects. These projects include repair of Muller and Westgate roads.

“It’s good to see that much money being spent to improve our infrastructure,” alderman Jim Gee, Ward IV, said.

“We’re getting to some projects that have been delayed for a while,” Mayor Gary Manier said. “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Capital expenditures make up the biggest chunk of this year’s budget.

City administrator Bob Morris said because of the increasing costs of asphalt, the city will continue to seal coat streets as part of the annual street maintenance.

Personnel expenses are next largest expenditure at $5.3 million.

Sales taxes are projected as the top source of revenue, with $4.3 million expected.

Morris said about $8,000 in tax revenue is expected to be from the new Sleep Inn & Suites.

The council also:

• heard the first reading of an ordinance to raise the city’s hotel tax from 5 percent to 6 percent. The 1 percent increase would then be invested with the Peoria Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau on a two-year trial basis. The funds would then be used by the PACVB to market Washington as a viable location for conventions and sporting contests, such as the Illinois High School Association regional swim meets.

• awarded contracts totaling more than $442,000 for the 2008 street maintenance program. About $480,000 in motor fuel tax revenue was allocated for the program.

• and approved one-year service contracts with the Washington Fire Department and Northern Tazewell Fire and Rescue Squad. The contracts run from May 1 through April 30, 2009.