2013 city budget putting money back into capital improvements

YAKIMA, Wash.-- The Yakima City Council took their first look at next year's preliminary budget Tuesday, and there's a big change in where the city wants to spend much of its money.

City Manager, Tony O'Rourke says it was important for him to address the community's concerns. That means putting more money back into the city, for things like public safety and capital investments.

The 2013 budget came in at over $205 million, about 16% higher than 2012. But it's an increase O'Rourke says is needed if they're going to start to rebuilding the city.

"We're making up for deferred maintenance, deferred capital investments by making a more concerted effort to meet the long term infrastructure, capital needs of the community," said O'Rourke.

Needs like fixing roads. In the preliminary budget, O'Rourke outlined several big road investments, like a $5 million bond for road repairs and $12 million allocated for the Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard Underpass.

In all, 26% of the total budget would go to capital investments.

"Moneys that would have gone to other things, other operations, are going to capital investments, going into the community's pockets versus our pockets," O'Rourke said.

The city would pay for the improvements using several strategies including a freeze on employee wages and benefits. All while not raising taxes.

Now along with capital improvements, this preliminary budget recommends adding five officers to the YPD Gang Unit and hiring two new fire inspectors to make sure the 4,000 commercial businesses in town are up to code.

All things many of the council members agree on.

"We said these are the areas that are more important to our community and that we need to direct most of our money to those areas. So yeah, I'm satisfied," said Councilman Dave Ettl.

This is only the preliminary budget, the council could come back with suggested changes and revisions after more study sessions and public input. But, they hope to have the final budget adopted by December.

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