Balancing the cost of living in Richland

Balancing the cost of living in Richland »Play Video
RICHLAND, Wash. - Prices are going up on just about everything.
Gas, groceries, services. It's likely this is why people are spending less.

That's coming at Richland's expense. The city brought in less money in sales tax than it used to, 16 percent less. That's going to make the cost of living go up for people city wide.

Richland is proposing hikes to garbage,water and power.
City manager, Cindy Johnson, says balancing Richland's budget is similar to how she budgets at home.

The biggest priority is maintaining emergency services.
Bigger items like road expansions and building projects take a back seat. But at some point Richland has to pass on its operating expenses to the residents if the money coming in won't cover it.

The drop in local sales tax dollars coming into Richland was no surprise. In fact, city officials say they saw this coming. Once the first quarter numbers were released they decided they needed to adjust the budget a little bit so they know what they can and cannot spend in 2013.

Cindy Johnson, city manager said, "If there's more things we want to accomplish we're going to have to do something different. We're either going to have to reduce services or staff but that's going to be a longer conversation."

It's why Richland is starting smaller with a likely hike of more than 4 percent to garbage and water. The city already agreed on over a 12 percent rate increase for electricity.

This amounts to a potential 20 percent increase in overall utilities next year for people living in Richland. Neighbors don't like the idea.

"We're in a recession over here. We are not as affected as the rest of the country is that's for sure," said Brian Carey.

He has a different idea to balance the books.

"Start charging Oregonians sales tax instead of giving them a break," he said.

Making everyone pay their fair share if the cost of living is going to rise.