EVERETT — Postponing any big decisions needed to curtail a continuing budget deficit, the Everett City Council unanimously passed a 2020 spending plan Wednesday night with little discussion.
Mayor Cassie Franklin said all city departments “tightened their belts” to balance next year’s budget when she presented her recommendations in late October alongside Councilmember Scott Murphy.
In the 2020 budget, the city’s general government operating budget grows about 7.4%, from $138.4 million to $148.7 million.
The spending plan eliminates five staff positions, partly through a attrition and a voluntary separation program, while avoiding cuts to police and fire departments. No new fees or taxes are in store for residents next year. The city is taking the 1% property tax increase allowed each year.
Nearly 75% of the spending gap for 2020 is covered by unspent money from this year, also known as the carry forward.
Next year, the city will have to bridge another $13 million gap to rein in the budget deficit. Franklin has warned residents will face a reduction in services unless more revenue flows in. That’s when the council will be faced with tough decisions that could include merging some services with existing regional systems, such as transit, fire, parks or library, or putting levies on the ballot to raise taxes.
The budget did not address the last-minute loss of funding resulting from the passage of Initiative 976, which cuts $1.5 million from the city’s street fund and $700,000 from Everett Transit. Franklin plans to bring recommendations to the council for filling those gaps early next year.