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News / Clark County News

Ridgefield transition period to stretch 2024 budget

Revenue falls from 2023, expenses up; no service cuts seen

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: December 1, 2023, 6:08am

Ridgefield, the state’s fastest-growing city since 2010, is stretching to balance its budget for next year.

The city’s 2024 budget shows a decrease of $5.9 million in revenue from 2023. Meanwhile, expenses are expected to increase by $247,000. City Manager Steve Stuart said officials have been preparing for this day.

“We are in a transition that we have been planning for — from reliance on single-family homebuilding to a more sustainable, balanced community,” Stuart said Thursday.

Stuart said the transition period is expected to last from 12 to 18 months.

“We knew there would be a flattening of revenue during the transition because there would be a decrease in homebuilding and an increase in job and service development,” Stuart said.

Commercial development, especially near Interstate 5, is beginning to pick up steam, Stuart said, pointing to the Union Ridge Town Center, Costco, Clark College at Boschma Farms and PacTrust projects as examples.

According to budget documents, the city is expecting $79.6 million in revenue compared to $88.04 million in expenses. Keeping the city’s expenses relatively flat will prevent cuts to services, Stuart said.

“Service needs aren’t going to go down during the transition because we keep having more people move in,” Stuart said. “The council has been really committed to building reserves to assure there is no diminished service level for the people who live here.”

The city plans to add two police officers next year. Stuart said the city will also target enhancements in public works, especially street, park and stormwater maintenance. The city plans to move forward with improvements to Royle Road and planning for a new park at the Port of Ridgefield waterfront.

“What people are going to see next year is laying the foundation for the jobs and services that are coming,” Stuart said. “They’re going to see the Pioneer Street widening project go to construction and be completed. They’re going to see the connecting roadways, the internal roadways in that area — the roundabouts, the enhancements — being built and finished next year.”’

Rather than dipping into the city’s policy reserve balances, Stuart said the city will draw on reserves set aside specifically for the transition.

The city council is expected to adopt the 2024 budget at its next regular meeting on Monday. The meeting agenda, as well as information on how to attend, can be found at https://ridgefieldwa.portal.civicclerk.com.

The full 2024 budget is available on the city’s website at https://tinyurl.com/mr2uf5j6.