Edmonds budget: Figures, salaries need another look

  • Tue Oct 26th, 2010 7:24pm

I have completed a review of Mayor Mike Cooper’s proposed budget for 2011.

I was perplexed to see that the 2011 budget figures are compared to the 2010 budget figures, rather than the 2010 estimates. Comparing to the most recent estimates was the practice for the 2007-08 and the 2009-10 budgets.

The major reason for comparing figures is to determine trends. Comparing budget-to-budget defeats that effort as the result is usually false. I could give hundreds of examples of this false information in the proposed budget, but let’s just look at the very first page of comparisons — total expenditures on page 3. Total expenditures for 2011 are indicated to be down by 4.9 percent when compared to the 2010 budget, but in reality they are up by 3.1 percent when compared to the 2010 estimate. The two right-hand columns that say “11–10 est” are incorrectly labeled; the figures are really comparisons to the 2010 budget.

Compensation in the 2011 budget, for all 213 employees, amounts to 53 percent of all expenses, so this is obviously an element of the budget that needs to be thoroughly reviewed by council members. Soon they will have before them the proposed non-represented compensation for 2011. The adjustments to that result from benchmarking Edmonds’ salaries to those of several other cities. Because of the current economic environment, a component of the City Council review needs to be one more benchmarking exercise.

Specifically, look at what’s happening in our city with employee concessions compared to what’s being negotiated by other governments. Some Edmonds workers took furloughs in 2009, and some have not been given merit increases. For the years 2009, 2010 and 2011, let’s look at what’s happening in comparable cities and also include other measures, like no COLA and pay cuts. I also believe that it would be valuable to have Snohomish County, King County and state workers included in the benchmarking.

Ron Wambolt

Edmonds