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I’m pleased to present to the public and the City Council my proposed budget for the City of Bremerton for 2020. This proposal reflects the current issues facing our community and the need to prepare responsibly for the years ahead.
Addressing Housing Instability and Providing Help for Low-Income Residents
In this budget, I continue to make homelessness, mental illness, safety of our neighborhoods, and the need for quality affordable housing a priority. I have proposed continuing $100,000 in funding for the rental assistance and eviction prevention program for those faced with housing instability. For the second year, I have also included $100,000 in weatherization assistance to reduce energy costs for low-income residents so they don’t have to choose between paying for food or housing. In the pilot year in 2019, both programs were successful in helping residents to maintain housing stability and decrease the chances of becoming homeless.
In addition, I have expanded the senior low-income subsidy program for 2020. Seniors over 62 with a total income up to $40,000 are now eligible, which is an increase of $10,000 over the previous year. This change will increase the number of low-income seniors who receive assistance with their water and sewer bill payments in our City.
Committing to a Safe and Healthy Community
I am also making investments that encourage a safe and healthy community. Funding in this new budget will help remodel and update our parks, including Warren Ave Playfield and Kitsap Lake Park, which have been in need of renovations over the past several years. I’m pleased to announce that my budget will continue to build up the City’s streets and sidewalks program, increasing the funding from $8.7 million to $12.2 million. These funds will help manage traffic flows, fix streets and increase walkability for individuals and families in our neighborhoods.
Maintaining public safety is very important for our community. I added three positions, a new fire fighting boat and fire truck in the previous budget, which the City Council adopted. For 2020, I have added three new firefighter/EMT positions to help keep our residents safe and to further reduce emergency response times.
Supporting Business and Job Growth
To support our businesses and promote job growth, I have increased the Business & Occupation (B&O) exemption from the rate of $200,000 to $240,000 this year, which accelerates the pace to phase out the B&O tax. This effort backs the City Council’s code revision in 2012 to eliminate the tax with annual increases in the exemption. My budget doubles the exemption from the standard $20,000 to $40,000 for the year, creating more savings for businesses to reinvest back in Bremerton in the form of jobs and business expansion.
Preparing Responsibly for the Future
Since taking office, my administration has made progress on many initiatives and goals that were funded in the last budget, including:
With this budget, I will continue the momentum to support a thriving community that serves the needs of residents while ensuring the City remains in strong fiscal health.
Please take a moment to review the proposed budget and provide your comments. Over the next few weeks, I will be working with the City Council to review the budget before they adopt the document. On November 6 and November 20 City Council meetings, I hope you will join us and share your comments on the budget proposal.
If you have any comments about the budget document or process, please call or email me at: 360-473-5266 or Greg.Wheeler@ci.bremerton.wa.us.
Sincerely,Greg WheelerMayor, City of Bremerton