At Wednesday’s city council meeting, Everett’s structural deficit and possible responses were discussed. Community evening meetings are slated for May 8 at Evergreen Middle School and May 13 in the Wilderness Room of Everett Community College. Report details are on: www.everett.org.
Briefly, the city faces a $13 million operating deficit by 2015, and this deficit will grow to $21 million by 2018. The largest city expense is employee labor at 71 percent of budget, including medical coverage that’s projected to grow 12 percent yearly from 2013 to 2018.
Various cost-control and revenue-raising suggestions are in that report. If all were adopted, I believe Everett would be a very different place than it is today. Some proposals seem counter-productive: lamenting retail losses to the Marysville Outlets and the Alderwood Mall while proposing increased B&O taxes and higher business fees. But these discussions are best left to the public meetings and to the committees that will hone a workable plan.
My concern is whether the committees appreciate the income levels of Everett area citizens who work, shop and live in the city. The report sounds like a lot of nickel-n-diming taxes, such as utility rates, and increased usage fees. Do the committees have an idea what annual income will be needed to stay in Everett and to meet these and other expenses?
A possible exodus of both tax-paying citizens and small business owners should be weighed in the balance when drawing-up a sustainable city funding proposal.