Edmonds may seek help with budget

EDMONDS — With Mayor Mike Cooper’s budget set to come out Tuesday, Councilman D.J. Wilson suggested last week the council hire an analyst to help with the budget process.

Since Jan. 1, two new council members have been appointed to the seven-member body. Of the seven council members, five have yet to complete their first four-year term. The previous biennial budget was completed in December 2008.

“We don’t need to hire an auditor,” Wilson said. “Additional staffing services are needed for a short duration to assist in supporting the council budget process.”

Wilson concluded at the meeting last Tuesday that there is a certainty that council members’ questions will send them to the city’s finance department seeking answers. He pointed out that, due to budget restraints, the city’s finance staff has shrunk from seven to five. Plus there is a new finance director.

“If each of the seven of us (council members) spends time with our finance staff, they would get nothing else done,” Wilson said.

Councilman Strom Peterson urged that part of the new budget should include adding one staff position back into the finance department.

A work group including Wilson, Council President Steve Bernheim and Councilman Michael Plunkett crafted a request for qualifications for the budget and policy analysis services. The deadline for application is 10 a.m. Oct. 8.

Work by the analyst would be completed by Dec. 31 when the council must finalize the 2011-12 budget.

It was anticipated that a consultant would cost from $24,000 to $32,000 for the two months of work.

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