Lake Stevens budget raises services—and taxes


Herald Writer

LAKE STEVENS — Better customer service at city hall and increased police coverage are some of the highlights proposed in the city’s preliminary budget for 2001.

Also, a 6 percent increase in the city’s property tax levy has been proposed.

"We’re still suffering from the effects of (Initiative) 695," said Dave O’Leary, city administrator, explaining the biggest reason for the proposed property tax increase.

I-695 cut car tab costs, but also reduced funds to governments.

"We’ve only gotten back about half the dollars the state used to give us," O’Leary said.

The city’s tax levy rate is $2.36 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or the equivalent of about $472 a year for a $200,000 home. The new rate cannot be calculated precisely until late December, but is estimated to be about $2.45 per $1,000, according to a staff report prepared by Jan Berg, the city’s finance director.

The overall projected budget for 2001 is about $6.7 million, O’Leary said. The projected budget for the general fund, which pays for direct services to residents such as police, parks and human services, would be about $1.9 million, he said.

One of the highlights of the proposed budget, which will not be finalized until after a public hearing Nov. 20, is the addition of extra help at the front desk of city hall. This additional staff could assist visitors, as well as callers, with such things as paying utility bills.

"Instead of getting voice mail when you call, they’ll put a human being in there," O’Leary said.

The proposed budget also would fund an additional police sergeant, O’Leary said. The position was actually added on a temporary basis this year; the proposed budget would make it permanent. That would give the city two sergeants.

"It would give us a command person at all critical times, someone trained to be a supervisor," O’Leary said.

The preliminary budget also includes funds to upgrade radios in police cars, which are wearing out, O’Leary said.

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