By Brian Kelly
STANWOOD — The slumping economy and layoffs at Boeing have created a bleak outlook for Stanwood’s 2002 budget. There will be no new hires, and some cuts in service are planned.
"It’s certainly a big change from the past five, six years, which have been very good," said finance director Landy Manuel. "The last six years have been the boom time."
Sales tax revenues and development fees are expected to drop, while the biggest costs for staffing the city — wages and benefits — will continue to climb.
The city is forecasting it will get $775,000 in sales tax revenues in 2002, down from the 2001 budget estimate of roughly $825,000. Revenue from building permits is also expected to dwindle from $103,500 to $71,000 next year.
For Stanwood residents, it’s a mixed bag as well. Water and storm-water utility rates are not expected to go up, but sewer rates may increase, largely to pay for the new wastewater treatment plant.
Manuel said discussion on the size of sewer rate increases will probably start early next year.
The next step for the 2002 budget comes Monday, when the council will vote on a 5 percent increase in the property tax rate. The budget will be adopted afterward.
If the council adopts the increase, property owners will have lower tax assessment rates. That’s because the county has completed new assessments of properties in Stanwood, and the value of land in town has jumped from $253 million to $327 million. The higher value means a lower overall rate, which will drop to $3.52 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2002. (The rate this year is $4.15 per $1,000 of assessed value.)
That doesn’t mean lower tax bills, though, because it’s been four years since many Stanwood properties were last assessed, and individual property values will have risen since then.
You can call Herald Writer Brian Kelly at 425-339-3422 or send e-mail to email@example.com.