Council not impressed with budget

  • Tue Sep 14th, 2010 6:23pm

By Mina Williams Enterprise editor

LYNNWOOD — Mayor Don Gough’s proposed budget was not what the Lynnwood City Council hoped for, several members echoed earlier this week.

Gough presented his budget to council, as prescribed by state law, Sept. 13 during a regularly scheduled council meeting.

“This is balanced to existing sources of revenue,” Gough said. “Nothing has changed since (earlier this year). There is still a $20 million deficit. We will have to do things differently. Things won’t be the same; they cannot be the same.”

Gough’s budget, without new revenues, calls for a $9 million reduction in the police budget, a $4.6 million reduction in the fire budget and $2.3 million in cuts for parks.

Council was presented with expense numbers necessary to maintain present service levels with a forecast of revenue numbers. Taking those numbers and using a modeling program, target reduction figures were assigned to each department. There were no recommendations other than the reductions garnered through the city’s 20-year trending history.

“This is a proposed preliminary budget,” said Patrick Dugan, interim finance director.

“The mayor presented what is required by law,” said Mark Smith, council president. “There was some disappointment that did not come with recommendations on how to address this budget crisis. ”

Smith was elected as council president during the same meeting. Ted Hikel resigned the position. Kerri Lonergan was elected vice president, a position Stephanie Wright held prior to her election on Snohomish County Council.

“The council was hoping for a balanced budget with recommendations for what to cut and what revenues to increase,” Smith said. “Mr. Dugan was clear that the administration was making no recommendations. We received no vision for the city.”

What the mayor’s budget did propose was job cuts.

“Reductions of this magnitude can only be achieved by general salary reduction,” said Dugan. “Employment is a significant budget driver.”

The city’s personnel costs were $5.5 million annually between 2007 and 2009, according to Dugan.

Earlier this month individuals holding positions that are in jeopardy of being slashed were given a “courtesy notice.”

“This (budget) should be the basis for a dialog with each department to understand the original proposals to discover what we have to give up to live within the revenue we have,” said Dugan.

The next step, Smith told The Enterprise, is for the council to take matters into their own hands.

“Given the resistance of the administration to present a budget with recommendations, council needs to look at creating it’s own budget. There are people’s lives, homes and incomes at stake.”

That exploration will be on the council’s Sept. 15 work session agenda.