MOSES LAKE – Moses Lake may close the museum, the Larsen Recreation Center and ice rink to deal with its budget shortfall.
City Manager Joe Gavinski said the city has enough in reserve, new revenue and through not filling positions to make up roughly $2.3 million of a $2.8 million budget deficit.
The city is facing shortfall following a settlement between Grant County and REC Silicon which ended three years of dispute between the company and the county concerning the property values. As part of the settlement, the city had to pay about $880,000 back to the company in property taxes and lost about $2 million in property tax revenue for 2013.
Gavinski said the city left about 10 positions open. He previously said the vacancies have been across all of the departments. The city also reduced the amount it spends on street reconstruction and repair.
“That saves us about $800,000,” he said. “Also we're talking about $1 million from the fund balance that we did have, because we did end up the year a little better than we anticipated. So of the $2.8 million, we've managed to cover about $1.8 million of that.”
Gavinski previously said the city had about $2 million in reserves, he did not state what the city was doing with the other $1 million during the meeting, and he could not be reached before deadline.
The city manager said another $500,000 would come from additional revenue, mostly from sales tax. He said it leaves the city $500,000 shy of having a balanced budget.
“We're still combing through the budget and searching how to make that up,” he said. “There are some possibilities.”
Some of the ideas include closing the ice skating rink, Larsen Recreation Center and the BMX track, or closing the Museum and Art Center.
“That's not to say the facilities are going to disappear, just that they would not be open to the public,” he said. “There are also ideas of reducing park, street and landscaping maintenance including the possible closure of restrooms in the parks.”
The city is also examining cuts it may need to make in 2014, as it's planning to have $1.8 million less in revenue from property taxes. The city may close the auditorium in the civic center and the multipurpose room in the fire station to the public.
Gavinski said the closures are temporary until the state Board of Tax Appeals case between the county and REC is resolved. The case is presently scheduled for a six-day hearing in March 2014.