LYNNWOOD — Following months of cantankerous debate, Lynnwood City Council passed the 2011-2012 biennial budget Dec. 13.
“This is the end product of a journey that has been arduous and personal for everyone, including residents of the city,” said Mark Smith, council president. “It is not something anyone has arrived at easily.”
In front of a full gallery, council approved the budget 5-2, with Councilmen Ted Hikel and Jim Smith casting dissenting votes.
The budget calls for more than $10 million in cuts to the city’s operations, which will include slashing 30 jobs. It also calls for $7 million in taxes and fees levied to residents and business owners plus new revenues from property sales and fund transfers, totaling close to $7 million. It is expected this combination will close the city’s $22 million shortfall and assist in backfilling the reserve “rainy day” fund.
Department heads will send lists of recommended layoffs to the city’s human resources department in the next few days. Updated status reports will also be given to employees who were previously given a “courtesy notice” that their jobs were in jeopardy, that their positions have now been spared.
The layoffs, along with leaving vacant positions open, would save close to $10 million, city finance director Patrick Dugan said. Other cuts, including expenditures for travel, vehicles and office supplies, are expected to net $2 million in addition.
Leading up to the final deliberation, council had to readdress two measures previously passed Nov. 29 that were vetoed by Mayor Don Gough on Dec. 8. One was lifting utility taxes 2 percentage points, from 4 percent to 6 percent. The other lifted property taxes 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, adding $95 per year for owners of a $270,000 home.
That veto effectively punted the two measures back onto the council agenda for reconsideration. Gough’s sticking point was that there was no roll-back mechanism down the road when the budget presented a rosier picture.
Council voted to override the veto, with Councilmen Hikel and Jim Smith both voted against the override.
The mayor projected that the council would not reverse the two tax measures. “They have the (majority) votes,” Gough told The Enterprise prior to the meeting. “We just shouldn’t treat people this way.
The mayor has 10 days to veto the budget. As a safety measure, council set a special business meeting date for Dec. 29 should a mayoral veto come to pass.
In other moves, council voted to approve two draft ordinances amending the city’s comprehensive plan relating to affordable housing. The ordinances set up mobile and manufactured home park zoning.
Council also approved the sale of city property to Edmonds Community College. A hearing will be held early in the new year for council to hear public comment on the $2.5 million deal.