The Yelm City Council voted to approve its 2023-2024 biennial budget at its meeting on Nov. 22.
Next year’s budget includes $81,255,508 in revenue and $90,851,755 in expenditures, according to city documents. The city’s fund balance, which is essentially its savings account, will start the year with $20,420,698 and the projected ending fund balance in 2024 is expected to be $10,871,849.
The budget includes several measures to increase public safety. Mayor Joe DePinto highlighted these in the “Mayor’s Budget Message” in the document. They include increasing the number of commissioned police officers, enhancing the city’s partnerships with Yelm Community Schools to provide additional school resource officers, an increased training budget for public safety personnel, additional portable speed signs to provide data to improve enforcement efforts, funding for additional jail space, and new partnerships for mental health and veteran’s court.
The budget also prioritizes transportation associated needs, which include widening and the addition of sidewalks to Rhoton Road, increased ability to fix potholes, additional hiring within the street department, creating additional parking for downtown businesses and city park patrons, and partnering with Yelm Community Schools to improve crosswalk safety throughout the community.
During the meeting, councilmember James Blair motioned to postpone the approval of the budget until the Dec. 13 city council meeting. Several of the council members agreed with Blair, due to concerns that related to readerboards that were included in the budget, but after some debate, the council approved the biennial budget with a 6-1 vote.
Prior to the vote, DePinto and City Finance Director Stephanie Dice reviewed the different budgets. The process began in May and the preliminary budget was initially discussed on Sept. 27. At that time, the council also reviewed the 2023-2024 revenue expenditure estimates and the year end budget estimates for 2022.
On Oct. 4, the council reviewed the department budget presentation which included department accomplishments, department goals and public requests. Then on Oct. 25, the council held the capital budget discussion, which included the 2023-2024 capital purchases and projects. These projects included $20,000 for readerboards, two “completely outfitted” police vehicles, and $100,000 for repairs and maintenance of government buildings.
“The proposed biennial budget ordinance provides a balanced budget, reflects the conservative approach to revenue projections, and a thorough analysis of planned expenditures,” DePinto said.
City Administrator Todd Stancil thanked the council for their approval as he noted the budget process takes a lot of work.
“This was my first (budget) going through it, and as a city administrator, there’s a lot more to it than my role prior,” Stancil said. “It was a really good experience and Stephanie (Dice) did a really good job leading us into her first biennial budget with the city.”
In other news, Stancil said the City of Yelm conducted interviews for a planning and building manager position on Monday, Nov. 21. He said that the city is excited about the candidates they interviewed.
“We feel really fortunate going forward and hopefully we can fill that position with a great candidate for the city shortly,” Stancil said.
During the meeting, DePinto also proclaimed Saturday, Nov. 26 as Small Business Saturday in Yelm. He noted there are plenty of great businesses within the city that deserve to be celebrated.
To view the city’s budget in full, go online to bit.ly/3AWEa93.
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