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Aug. 19, 2022

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Washougal plans for budget cuts

Pandemic fallout will put city projects on hold, lead to personnel limitations

By , Columbian county government and small cities reporter
Published:
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"For Lease" signs hang in the windows of empty commercial units in downtown Washougal.
"For Lease" signs hang in the windows of empty commercial units in downtown Washougal. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The city of Washougal is projecting a general-fund revenue loss of roughly 11 percent from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Much remains undecided, but for now, the city plans to enact $1.6 million in cuts and reserve expenditures, according to the city Finance Department. Cuts could total about $1.25 million, while the city is finalizing plans to recoup about $341,000 from staffing adjustments and reserves.

The cuts will include deferring some city projects, limiting hiring, eliminating vacation buy-backs and travel for city workers, and reducing event support and professional services administration.

The city typically relies heavily on seasonal staffers during the summer, said Finance Director Jennifer Forsberg. Starting in June, most city employees will be furloughed one day each month.

The figures are loose projections, as some of the financial ramifications of COVID-19, including sales tax revenue, won’t be known for months, Forsberg said. “I’m hopeful that it bounces back quicker.”

Washougal is expecting $495,000 in CARES Act funding. The city is still fine-tuning how that money will fit into its plans to weather the COVID-19 crisis, Forsberg said.

More than some other local cities, many Washougal residents usually commute elsewhere for work, Forsberg said. Many of the city’s residents are working from home, and many who are out of work commuted to a different area.

“We don’t have a bunch of industries that can be shut down,” Forsberg said.

The city council will review another update from the finance department toward the end of May.

Columbian county government and small cities reporter

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