Selah In Financial Bind

<p>Selah municipal court</p>

Selah municipal court

The Cty of Selah is in a financial bind after residents speak out against a proposed utility tax increase.
Maria Beaudry has lived in the Selah area for over 20 years.

Beaudry says she doesn't make much money from her job, and really feels it when it comes to paying utility bills.

"This summer, I was paying like 99 dollars a month between water and sewage and so forth. So it's.. it's hard."

The Selah City Council is now in a bind after residents showed disapproval of a proposal made by City Administrator David Kelly.

Kelly suggested the city adopt a new utility tax bill that would decrease the rate in water, sewer and garbage, but increase the tax on it from 6 to 20 percent.

Overall, that would increase a residents total utility bill by about 7 percent.

The proposal was made because the city is in a 5 million dollar budget hole after purchasing 23 acres of land on which to build a community pool 10 years ago -- the pool was later rejected.

Kelly says this is the most reasonable solution to the city's budget problems. If it's not approved, the only other solution would be to make cuts across the city departments.

"We do not have the reserves to maintain this, so we'll have to cut out about 13 percent of our budget. Which -- maybe an example is we would have to eliminate a department the size of our parks department," said Kelly.

The police and fire departments would also see cutbacks.

"I don't think the answer is cutting our services either, but I really prefer not to have the utilities raised," said Beaudry.

Some residents say cutting department funds may be the best solution.

"Of course you wouldn't want to see the funds cut, but something has to be cut somewhere. So I'm thinking it would be the funds. I prefer them not to be cut, but if it has to, then somewhere has to be done because... We need it," said Michelle Gano.

Maria Beaudry says either choice is difficult but cutting department funds may be the only way to protect her financially.

"I just -- it would be a hardship for me, because I can't afford it as it is now. You know, it's high," said Beaudry.

The Selah City Council will hold one more public meeting in two weeks before finalizing its budget plan.