Mayor Neil Johnson's proposed 2013-14 biennium budget continues to tow the line dictated by the slowly recovering economy, reflecting anticipated flat revenues over the next two years from sources including sales and property taxes, which then necessitates conservative approaches to expenditures to ensure city funds remain balanced.
Johnson's budget is the subject of the third of four public hearings this coming Tuesday during the regular meeting of the Bonney Lake City Council for citizens to weigh in on city finances.
Mostly Status Quo
To be clear, he is not proposing any new tax increases, City Administrator Don Morrison clarified for Patch. The Council is currently weighing a 0.79 percent increase in property taxes as a whole, which would increase its total levy amount by $20,414 next year.
Additionally, some previously approved fee increases are also coming Jan. 1, 2013 to fall in line with inflation.
Johnson's proposed budget does indicate the city won't need to dip into its reserves for this biennium, which has actually been increased to $1.11 million.
Anticipated expenditures, with the police department representing the largest segment at 40 percent of the general fund, have been outlined with the expectation that the city is able to collect corresponding revenues to meet those needs through sales taxes, property taxes, building permits, utility taxes, fines and forfeitures.
If it becomes apparent that revenues will fall short, further cuts may be necessary mid-way through the biennium, or tax increases like the following might come to the table:
1. A nominal 0.001 B&O tax to create $394,000 annually
2. A 2 percent increase in water related utilities to create about $236,000
3. The creation of transportation benefit district which comes with a 0.02 percent increase sales tax, if approved by voters, to generate $807,000 that would be dedicated to street improvements.
These represent only a last-resort effort by the Council to consider generating funding, if it were needed, Morrison emphasized.
No Big Staffing Changes
Meanwhile, Johnson's single new or expanded project is the proposal to add a probation officer in a newly created municipal probation office, Morrison said. Fees and funds generated here would fully fund the office itself and also provide some fiscal relief to the general fund, Johnson wrote in his introductory budget letter.
Otherwise, staffing remains as is with no layoffs anticipated. However, if certain positions were to become vacant, they would be reevaluated before they were filled, Morrison said.
This proposed budget reflects a conservative approach to ensure it falls within state requirements to be balanced. However, the following projects are budgeted for construction in the next two years:
- Completion of Phase II tenant improvements the Justice Center;
- Completion of the Fennel Creek Trail Link through the Safe Routes grant;
- Creation of a self-funded probation office in the municipal court
- Completion of SR410 and Main Street intersection improvements
- Eastown sewer lift station
- Angeline Road improvements
- Various sewer trunk line improvements
- Upgrades to the joint Sumner wastewater treatment plant
The city will also continue to prioritize arts and quality of life programs, equipment upkeep and replacement, some street improvement and some capital improvement projects.
Metropolitan Park District
After much discussion this past year about the parks and recreation needs of residents, Johnson concluded his letter that he is still looking toward a successful proposition put in the April 2013 ballot asking voters about a funding mechanism to bring about sports complexes, parks, trails and/or a community center to the city. On Monday, the Park Board made a formal recommendation supporting the MPD.
- Tuesday, Nov. 27: Public Hearing on the Biennium Budget (3 of 4)
- Tuesday, Dec. 4: Public Hearing on the Biennium Budget (4 of 4)
- Tuesday, Dec. 11: Council takes action on budget ordinance
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