West Richland up against tough budget
WEST RICHALND, Wash. - A lack of funding for more police officers and a clamp on property taxes challenged the West Richland City Council to try to make ends meet for next year's budget.
The city's mayor said his council needs to step it up and needs to aggressively recruit new business to the city. He said a major reason for more funding is public safety.
On Monday, the city approved the budget and voted to bring in an economic developer for about $80,000 a year. Some council members said they wanted the money to go towards paying for the police officers.
Programs like D.A.R.E are now on the chopping block because it would pull the only patrol officer off the roads. And in the next year, the police department could lose up to three officers. For now, there is not enough money in the budget to re-hire those positions once they become available.
Each year, West Richland has mounting costs and less money to cover them. It's due in part to Initiative 747 that limits the property tax increase to one percent each year. Also, most cities generate money from sales tax but West Richland right now has little retail business to speak of.
The mayor said if the city is ever going to grow, it needs to look towards the future and needs to take steps to get there.