The city of Vancouver approved a two-year, $1.2 billion operating and capital budget Monday evening, which marked a 3.7 percent increase compared with the 2017-2018 budget.
Last budget cycle, the city was able to add positions for the first time since 2012. Seven positions were added. In the 2019-2020 budget cycle, 79.5 full-time positions will be added.
Those jobs include 17 in the police department, 17.5 in public works and 13 for the new Fire Station 11, which should be in operation by the end of 2020.
The operating side of the budget totals $954.8 million and the capital side comes in at $245.4 million.
Chief Financial Officer Natasha Ramras said the new budget strengthens the city’s financial foundation, addresses service gaps, invests in infrastructure and advances key projects, as well as builds capacity and plans for a stronger city.
2019-2020 city of Vancouver budget
Operating and capital budget: $1.2 billion
Operating budget: $954.8 million
• General, street and fire funds: $458.7 million
• All other operating funds: $496.1 million
Capital budget: $245.4 million
• Projects: $146.8 million
• Funding transfers: $98.6 million
“The overall budget is balanced,” Ramras said. “The budget is sound.”
Numerous projects in the city received the necessary funding to move forward:
• The largest project, $19 million, is the reservoir and seismic upgrade at Waterworks Park.
• A new fire station, Station 11, received $10.2 million in funding. It’s the second-largest project in the capital budget.
• The city will spend $2.16 million to demolish Tower Mall as part of its plan to redevelop the Heights District, a process that officially got underway earlier this year.
Vancouver will spend $6.2 million developing a plan to replace and relocate the operations center, which houses the motor pool, vehicle repair, city shops, public works and other city services. Leaders began discussing the project earlier this year and determined the city would be better served if the center was relocated from 4711 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. to a site outside city limits.
Transportation projects also will benefit from the 2019-2020 budget with $21.4 million allocated. The list of projects includes work on Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard between Northeast 104th Street and Northeast Chkalov Drive, the 137th Avenue corridor between Northeast 49th Street and Fourth Plain Boulevard, and retrofitting the city’s 13,000 street lights with LED bulbs at a cost of $4.8 million.
The city’s parks will receive $8.7 million for improvements, including projects at North Image Park, Dubois Park, First Place Park, Clear Meadows Park and Summers Walk Park.
Coinciding with the biennial budget’s approval, the city council also approved a 1 percent increase in property tax collections and increased certain city fees, including a 5 percent increase in 2019 and 2020 to the Fire and Life Safety Fee and a 5 percent increase to fire permit, inspection and fire plan review fees.