Lynnwood council candidates talk finances

Four candidates are running in the Aug. 6 primary for the position on the Lynnwood City Council that Councilwoman Kerri Lonergren-Dreke is giving up.

The top two vote getters in the primary advance to the November general election.

The four candidates in the primary are Lynnwood Planning Commissioner Maria Ambalada, real estate broker Douglas Lovitt, Boeing quality specialist David Mayers and former Lynnwood Councilwoman Ruth Ross.

Here are statements from Ambalada, Lovitt and Ross. (Mayers has not responded):

Maria Ambalada

Hiring a topnotch Finance Director brought a sigh of relief to some. 2009 through 2012 was not so good.

City Council leaders admit that there was no positive work done on “oversight” of fiscal responsibilities. The administration pinched pennies and made business-friendly amendments on archaic ordinances.

The public-market project is now a priority, giving household entrepreneurs a marketplace for their products.

Moving forward means not settling comfortably with available city revenue.

Lynnwood needs strong leadership in economic development. Let’s market our city center and My Lynnwood Place. We need investors and leaders who recognize the great future waiting in Lynnwood.

Douglas Lovitt

Lynnwood’s financial crisis was avoidable. A huge percentage of city revenues are variable (sales taxes) and are highly impacted by economic swings. Our city officials were extremely over optimistic about their revenue projections, made some huge financial commitments based on them, and then spent revenues that simply didn’t come in. We have to do a much better job of forecasting, budgeting, and deciding which financial commitments we take on. I believe having a healthy reserve fund is critical to hedging against economic swings. Over spending and then asking our citizens to bail us out with additional taxes is totally irresponsible.

Ruth Ross

Lynnwood prospered for decades on sales tax revenues and did not have to impose taxes, such as the unpopular utility taxes, until the recent downturn. While the taxes are unpopular, they are the same ones our neighbors have paid for many years. The city must continue to further diversify its revenue base, but diversification does not have to mean more taxation. Instead, Lynnwood must improve its business climate by updating cumbersome land use codes, streamlining business license processes, and exploring inventive ways to encourage beneficial development. Decisive, innovative action could restore previously cut essential services and deliver a brighter future.

Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com.

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