No new taxes on tap in Mukilteo


Herald Writer

MUKILTEO — The streets may be dirtier, but residents may not notice, given they could find themselves a tad bit richer under Mukilteo’s proposed 2001 budget.

While the street fund has been slashed, there are no new taxes or fee increases in the proposal.

"This is the first time in my nine years that’s happened," Mukilteo Mayor Don Doran said.

Mukilteo’s general operating budget is proposed at $10.2 million and the total at $19.4 million.

The city council has until the end of the year to adopt a budget.

The proposal includes money to hire the equivalent of 3.25 new full-time employees and funds to extend the city’s pedestrian trails.

An additional police officer, assistant fire chief, public works employee and a part-time aide to staff the Rosehill Community Center on weekends and during special events account for the increased personnel.

As the city’s population continues to grow, increasing the number of police officers and firefighters is an undisputed priority, Doran said.

A public works employee was added because the acquisition of new park lands and open spaces has created a demand for improved maintenance.

The number of new employees would almost bring the city up to 1998 and 1999 staffing levels.

Last year, four full-time employees were cut in the wake of Initiative 695. The passage of I-695, which eliminated the state motor vehicle excise tax, resulted this year in a $1.2 million city budget shortfall .

The proposed 2001 budget is $878,000 more than this year’s $18.54 million total budget.

The proposed new employees and the purchase of a new $285,000 fire department pumper engine to replace a 30-year-old fire truck account for a substantial portion of the increase.

While the streets may be better policed, they may not be as tidy next year.

The city’s street fund, a portion of which pays for sweeping the streets, has been cut from $771,000 to $422,557.

In creating the budget, Doran said that he and city council members paid attention to what they heard from residents who attended the city’s "Town Meetings," a series of three two-hour meetings held in the spring.

At the meetings, many residents asked that lesser services be cut rather than police and fire, Doran said.

Residents also asked that the city make the roads more pedestrian friendly.

"There’s about $500,000 worth of walking paths in part of the budget to complete the walking trails," Doran said.

"We’re targeting areas, filling in the ditches, widening the street to its right-of-way width, so that people have walking and riding trails," Doran said.

Residents also voiced complaints about the constant increase in taxes, Doran said.

"We decided to make this budget as conservative as we possibly could and yet address our staffing needs."

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