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Park district taxes raised 2 percent

The North Whidbey Park and Recreation District commissioners Thursday voted to approve the 2009 annual budget in the amount of $944,00.

This amount represents a slight increase over the projected 2008 budget of $936,420.

District Director Craig Carlson said the budget is balanced and this was accomplished without increasing fees or using any of the

district’s reserve money.

To balance the budget, the district will increase the regular tax levy in the amount of $10,044, which is a jump of approximately 2 percent.

Last year the district’s regular tax levy brought in $502,000.

“We are within the requirements for this levy rate increase above the 1 percent level because of our bank levy capacity,” Carlson said. Taxing districts are limited to a 1 percent increase per year, but can used “banked” taxing authority not used in prior years.

The majority of the additional money in 2009 budget will be used for salaries and wages, along with payroll and personal benefits.

“Pool attendance is way up in 2008, especially in the area of people taking swim lessons, and we don’t expect anything to change next year,” Carlson said. “When you have more people taking advantage of the facility, it requires additional employees.”

As an example, the attendance for October was 10,516 visits, as compared to 7,402 visits in October 2007.

“We had an exceptional month,” Carlson said. “Participation levels were way up and not slowing down. We are going to have a record year.”

The district is in good shape financially and Carlson reported the reserve fund total is projected to be approximately $322,000 by Dec. 31.

Carlson said one of the major areas the district has been able to reduce expenditures this year is utility bills.

“This is because our heating equipment at the pool is now working properly,” he said.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the budget, with commissioners Sally Dillon, Harvey Prosser, River Powers and Robert Wilson all voting in favor of the proposal.

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