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As Sequim grows, so grows spending

Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM -- Teenagers, homeless animals, a $6 million City Hall and an upgraded wastewater treatment plant: Those are four potential recipients of Sequim funding in 2007, and four budget items born of the city's rapid growth.

They're to be added to or deleted from the budget following a public hearing Monday during the 6 p.m. City Council meeting at the Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.

Copies of the 2007 budget are available at City Hall, 152 W. Cedar St., and at the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave.

The city projects $18.8 million in expenditures next year -- up from $13.6 million in 2006 -- with the biggest-ticket items including a larger Police Department budget and millions earmarked for construction of city facilities.

Yet it was the relatively small sums that got the City Council talking during its three-hour work session Wednesday.

Boys & Girls Club

Last month, Todd Bale, director of the Olympic Peninsula Boys & Girls Club, asked the council for $100,000 to expand teen programs at the Sequim club, and Mayor Walt Schubert responded with enthusiasm.

But during Wednesday's work session, city attorney Craig Ritchie told the council to be careful.

The state Constitution says ``you can't give public funds for a private purpose,'' Ritchie said.

But ``you can contract with them [to] aid the poor or infirm,'' as the law puts it.

The constitutional requirement also applies to the budget line item that would allocate $24,777 for a Parenting Matters Foundation newsletter to be mailed to Sequim-area residents.

If the City Council opts to spend that money on the teen program and the parents' newsletter, Ritchie said, he'll find a way to make it legal.

Police Chief Robert Spinks jumped into the discussion.

You can pay now or later, he said.

``I look at the Boys & Girls Club as the only real community outreach crime-prevention program we have. The reality is that you'd be funding something at the front end,'' to prevent juvenile delinquency, Spinks said.

``I'm willing to put it into the police budget . . . or go door to door,'' he said, adding that arrests of juveniles in Sequim rose 16 percent last year and are expected to climb again this year.

Portland funded a teen center through a community policing contract, Ritchie said then.

Other local government agencies seem to think Sequim is wealthy enough to build a teen center by itself, Spinks said.

Though the city isn't all that flush, ``here's an opportunity to say, `We are leaders, and maybe y'all ought to step up to the plate,'' and cooperate in funding and building a place for teenagers to go after school.

``We're going to get it done,'' said Schubert.



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