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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 2021. We have experienced unprecedented and challenging times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. This budget addresses the needs of citizens for the foreseeable future while also planning for economic growth as our community focuses on recovery.
In this budget, I continue to invest in reducing housing instability and providing assistance for low income residents. For the third year, I have proposed $200,000 to fund affordable housing assistance in the City of Bremerton. Half of the sum ($100,000) will be used to assist those faced with instability in their housing. The other $100,000 will fund the weatherization and minor home repair program, which will assist low income residents with energy costs so they can afford other expenses such as housing and food.
Preserving public safety and maintaining transparency and accountability with the community is a top priority. In this budget, I continue to fully fund our City police department to protect our residents and neighborhoods. I have also invested $368,555 to purchase and administer police body cameras for our officers as part of a new program beginning in 2021. The budget also includes funding for a Behavioral Health/Navigator professional in the police department to aid those facing mental health situations.
I support our City businesses and ways to invest in job growth, especially as we focus on economic recovery due to COVID-19. In this budget, I increased the City’s Business and Occupation (B&O) tax exemption from $220,000 to $240,000. This will help almost three-quarters of locally based businesses receive the tax exemption. Businesses will be able to reinvest the savings into jobs in our community and business expansion.
Funding in the budget for 2021 will keep updates moving forward for our parks, including the completion of the Warren Ave Playfield and improvements to Kitsap Lake Park. My budget will also continue to build up the City’s streets and sidewalks program, providing $3.7 million to fix streets and sidewalks and $9.5 million to improve roads and enhance safety.
While there were some changes to operations due to the coronavirus, my administration made progress on many City initiatives and goals that were funded in the 2020 budget. Additionally, we distributed assistance and federal funds to aid citizens and businesses impacted by COVID-19.
COVID-19 Bremerton ProgramsThe City received federal grants and distributed funding for newly developed Bremerton COVID-19 relief programs. These included the COVID-19 Bremerton Rental Assistance Program, Bremerton Small Business Relief Grants, and technology purchases for virtual learning in the Bremerton School District.
The City also helped ensure residents continued to receive water and sewer services if they could not make payments, waived late payment fees and interest for business taxes and licenses, opened up temporary parking for essential workers on downtown streets and temporarily lifted parking enforcement in neighborhoods during the Governor’s stay-at-home order. I also supported the Salvation Army developing a 24-hour/7 day-a-week shelter for those facing homelessness during the pandemic.
In response to the impacts of the coronavirus, the City created new outdoor seating for restaurants to operate and assisted the Bremerton Farmer’s Market in finding a new location to meet health and safety standards under COVID-19.
Supporting and Investing in the City of BremertonMy administration moved forward on the following initiatives and goals in 2020 to enhance services to residents and expand economic growth:
With this budget, I will continue the efforts I began when I took office to support a thriving community while ensuring the City maintains a sound, responsible budget.
Please take a moment to review the proposed budget and provide your comments. In the coming weeks, I will be working with the City Council to review the budget before they adopt the document. On November 4 and November 18 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.
Greg WheelerMayor, City of Bremerton