2022 Budget Will Provide Affordable Housing Assistance, Support Public Safety and Foster Economic Growth
I’m pleased to present to the public and the City Council my proposed budget for the City of Bremerton for 2022. I believe this budget continues to maintain quality services for citizens and invests in the community for its long-term growth and prosperity.
Providing Affordable Housing Assistance and Utility Bill Support
In this budget, I have continued to invest in helping low-income residents with energy costs so they can afford other expenses such as housing and food and intend to provide additional funding for rental assistance during the year. In response to the need of residents, I have also proposed freezing utility rates in 2022 at current levels for water, sewer and stormwater services. All residences, including rental housing, would receive the rate freeze.
Supporting Public Safety and Emergency Response
Preserving public safety and emergency response is a top priority. In this budget, I have proposed the addition of 5 new police officers, which supports our community policing initiative and allows for more bicycle patrols in the City. Additionally, the budget would complete purchases for body cameras for all our officers in 2022 and continues our commitment to transparency and accountability. Funding is also included for two behavioral health specialists to aid those facing mental health situations. Additionally, I have proposed three new first responders in the fire department to help increase efficiencies and expand responsiveness to emergencies and medical assistance calls.
Fostering Business Growth
I remain committed to maintaining a strong business community and strengthening our local economy. In this budget, I proposed an increase in the City’s Business and Occupation (B&O) tax exemption from $240,000 to $260,000. The B&O increase will result in eligible businesses in the City receiving an exemption from the tax and others seeing a decrease in their bill. Businesses will also be included in the proposed freeze on utility rates in 2022.
Enhancing the Health and Safety of the Community
To keep the streets and sidewalks program moving forward, I have funded $3.4 million in maintenance for roads and sidewalks and $16.7 million in road capital improvements. This continues the investments we have made over the past three years to fix streets and sidewalks and to increase safety for bikes and pedestrians. Additionally, I have continued the cleanup of Kitsap Lake in this budget and I intend to continue work planned for our parks, including the design of improvements for Haddon Park and upgrades to Kitsap Lake Park.
Assisting Residents Impacted by COVID-19
In 2021, my administration made progress on many City initiatives and goals funded in the budget and continued to provide help to citizens and businesses impacted by COVID-19.
COVID-19 Bremerton Programs
During the year, the City provided COVID-19 rental assistance, worked with residents on payment plans for City utility bills, created a “bridge” program for payment plans when the state ended its moratorium on utility shutoffs due to non-payment, established partnerships for COVID-19 testing and vaccination centers, and offered mental health crisis intervention and mobile medical care to vulnerable residents.
I also continued to support outdoor seating for restaurants so they could continue operating safely, assisted the Bremerton Farmer’s Market in relocating back to Evergreen Park under health and safety standards, and invested in the Small Business Development Center to help businesses respond and adapt to market changes.
The City is currently working on efforts to freeze utility rates at current levels for water, sewer and stormwater for residences, including rental housing, as well as businesses in 2022. Additionally, plans are being prepared to fund small business assistance, rental assistance, job training, and education and training for startups and existing businesses in the new year.
Supporting and Investing in the City of Bremerton
My administration moved forward on the following initiatives and goals in 2021 to enhance services to residents and promote economic growth:
- Completed the Wheaton Wy/HWY 303 Corridor Study
- Implemented Recommendations of the Charleston Business/Community District Study
- Completed Warren Avenue Park Upgrades
- Secured Funding for Haddon Park Improvements
- Finalized the Gold Mountain Cascade Course Plan Redesign
- Continued with the Kitsap Lake Vegetation Management and Toxic Algae Control Plan
- Completed the 3rd Yr of Streets and Sidewalks Program
- Adopted Changes to ADUs and Subdivisions Codes and Advanced the Infill Development Toolkit to Help Increase Affordable Housing Supply
- Completed the 3rd Yr of the Rental Assistance Program and Weatherization Program
- Approved Permits for Over $125 Million in Residential/Commercial Projects with Nearly $56 Million in the Queue
- Completed Art Initiatives Projects
- Continued Implementing Parking Study Recommendations
- Began the Traffic and Parking Study in Partnership with the U.S. Navy
- Formalized a Partnership with the Kitsap Public Utility District (KPUD) to Identify Opportunities to Expand the Fiber Network
- Partnered to Develop a Solution to Gorst Traffic Issues and Infrastructure
- Implemented the 2nd Yr of the Fire/Safety Prevention Program and Partnered on the 1st full Yr of the Mobile Response Unit for Opioid and Mental Health Incidents
- Began the Behavioral Health Program for Crisis Intervention and Continued Support for the Navigator Program
With this budget, I remain focused on maintaining the delivery of essential services to residents while making key investments to keep the City moving forward.
Please take a moment to review the proposed budget and provide your comments. I will be working with the City Council in the coming weeks to review the budget before they adopt the document. On November 3 and November 17 City Council meetings, I hope you will join us and share your comments on the budget proposal.
Mayor, City of Bremerton