Camas City Council gets first look at 2021 budget

On Monday afternoon, members of the Camas City Council and citizens got a look at Mayor Barry McDonnell’s proposed budget for 2021. This City Council workshop is the continuation of the budget process that started in September. The council has until the end of the year to adopt a budget.

Camas City Hall
Camas City Hall

The budget includes the 1 percent increase allowed by law in both 2021 and 2022. The assumptions include the state being in Phase 4 of the Governor’s COVID-19 plan, allowing businesses to get back to normal and schools to be back to in-school instruction. They expect residential construction to slow, reducing building permit fees.

The proposed budget includes a plan for the city to lift its hiring freeze and fill several vacant positions, including the hiring of a new communications director. They will also buy some new equipment, mainly for the fire department. These include a new fire truck, a brush truck, and an ambulance.  A new garbage truck will be purchased as well.

The city has seven funds and officials expect to begin the year with a positive cash balance of $68.8 million. They expect to collect $169.8 million in taxes and fees. The budget proposes to spend $166.7 million, $2 million less than they plan to collect in taxes. Of note, the budget expects the general fund balance to decline by $2.9 million at the end of 2022.

Specific details can be found here.

Of interest to homeowners are the assumptions on property taxes. 

The September presentation included the following information and assumptions. A median priced Camas home is $516,000. The 1 percent levy increase would add $15 to a homeowners taxes. However there would be an additional increase of $92 due to assumed rising home values.

When the value of the home’s assessed value increases from the 2019 median home price of $478,900 to $516,000 in 2020, that is a 7.7 percent increase in assessed value. Therefore the taxes paid to the city increase by 8.5 percent, from $1,255 now to $1,362 in 2021. None of this reflects taxes paid for schools, to Clark County, or to the state.

For the 2020 property tax bill, the city of Camas received 24.7 percent of the total amount billed. The final property tax payment for this year’s taxes is due Oct 31.

Members of the City Council and mayor will continue their budget discussions at future workshops. They hope to begin a community engagement and outreach process soon.

Citizens can watch the recording of the Zoom meeting and view budget documents on the city website. Last night’s agenda with links to associated documents can be viewed here.