Snohomish budget calls for no tax increases

By LESLIE MORIARTY

Herald Writer

SNOHOMISH — There’s good news for residents: The 2001 city budget doesn’t call for a property tax increase.

City manager Bill McDonald recently released a preliminary city budget that provides for some expanded city services and a few new employees, but doesn’t ask for a tax increase.

A public hearing on the budget will be part of a city council meeting at 7 tonight at the Snohomish Fire District training room, 1525 Ave. D.

The council has been meeting in workshops for more than a month and will take public testimony Wtoday; the meeting was moved from the normal Tuesday meeting because of the general election.

McDonald said the budget outlook is positive despite higher costs of dealing with potential decreases in revenues because of voter-approved initiatives. Additional environmental regulations also are costing the city more in every project it undertakes, he said.

The budget calls for $100,000 for the city’s street overlay program, and $66,000 for new police cars. It calls for renovations at Pilchuck Park at a cost of $110,000, and sets aside $215,000 for a skateboard park. Other park improvements are budgeted at $90,000.

McDonald is suggesting hiring 4.5 new full-time equivalent employees, and reducing temporary summer park labor by 1,440 hours to recover some of the costs of the new employees.

The new positions would be in utility maintenance, parks and water departments.

Other capital improvements that are funded in the proposed budget include sidewalk upgrades, trails and paths, drainage at Blackmans Lake, a visitor information center, improvements in the city’s water lines and its water and wastewater treatment plant.

Revenues will come from a number of sources, including grants, the budget indicates. Snohomish also has a strong sales tax base. It also has a telephone tax, and there are two large annexations pending that would add to the city’s assessed valuation.

Even though taxes aren’t being raised by the city, residents will pay higher taxes.

Residents have recently had property reassessed by Snohomish County, and many will see higher property tax bills because of higher assessments.

City residents also passed an $8 million bond issue to build a new library, which will begin to show up in the 2001 property tax bills.

But McDonald said he is proud the city is meeting its goal of providing a safe, clean, attractive environment to live in with a strong local economy.

"Our mission is to preserve Snohomish’s special historical quality, provide excellent service, create partnerships that are beneficial to the community and empower its citizens to create solutions and opportunities," he said.

The final public hearing on the budget will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 5.

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