Blaine City Council adopts 2024 budget


Blaine City Council has adopted a barebones 2024 budget that will bring city expenses in line with its expected revenues.

Council passed the $49.4 million budget in a 4-0 vote during its November 13 meeting, with councilmembers Garth Baldwin, Eric Davidson and Rhyan Lopez absent. The budget prioritizes economic development as well as maintenance of parks, facilities and transportation infrastructure.

“We have the businesses and services that we need,” city finance director Daniel Heverling said. “But if we had to make more cuts in the future, it would be very difficult because there’s not much we can do.”

City administrators’ biggest hurdle was balancing the general fund and street fund, city manager Mike Harmon said.

The general fund has struggled with increased expenses as employee salaries and wages rose with inflation, while revenues decreased and the city ran out of its Covid-19 stimulus.

General fund expenses, which pay for most of the city’s daily operations, are expected to decrease by about $116,000 from about $8.9 million in 2023 after the city reduced its number of employees and other smaller expenses. The city planned earlier this fall to lay off 10 positions, but through attrition, only needed to lay off three staff members, Harmon said.

The street fund, which pays for roadway repairs, is also suffering without as many Canadian customers contributing to the gas tax revenue. While the street fund is anticipated to increase 54 percent, from about $981,000 to $1.5 million, that is only because of transfers from other funds, such as the general fund and real estate excise tax, to pay for needed projects.

“We just did a decent amount of cuts, and with what I’m seeing, we should be OK for a few years and wouldn’t have to make more cuts unless something drastically changed with the economy,” Heverling said.

City council also approved a one-percent increase to the city’s property tax levy, which will generate about $13,800 in additional property tax revenue.

The Blaine Tourism Advisory Committee (BTAC) funds that come from the hotel/motel tax are projected to increase 39 percent, from about $242,00 to $335,400.

BTAC grants

City council also unanimously approved BTAC grants worth $67,200, less than the $80,000 budgeted, during its November 13 meeting.

BTAC approved 11 of the 14 tourism grants it received. Below are the recipients and their awards:

• Blaine Chamber of Commerce received $20,000 for the Old Fashioned Fourth of July.

• Pacific Arts Association received $10,000 for Blaine Harbor Music Festival.

• Scottish Dance Society received $10,000 for the Bellingham Scottish Gathering in Blaine.

• Wings Over Water NW received $5,000 for the Wings Over Water NW Birding Festival.

• Blaine Arts Council received $5,000 for Arts Connect.

• Blaine Chamber of Commerce received $5,000 for Harbor Harvest Festival.

• Blaine Chamber of Commerce received $5,000 for Oysterfest.

• Blaine Chamber of Commerce received $2,500 for Drayton Harbor Maritime Festival.

• Paul Johnson Films LLC received $2,000 for Birds of Drayton Microfilm.

• Blaine Chamber of Commerce received $1,500 for Holiday Harbor Lights.

• Blaine Chamber of Commerce received $1,200 for Blaine by the Sea Market street musicians.

BTAC did not approve $3,500 for Fourth of July restrooms because it is included in the city’s tourism operating budget. The committee also denied a $11,800 request for murals and a $12,780 request for a seasonal one-lane closure of Drayton Harbor Road.


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