No big cuts in city’s budget proposal

  • By Oscar Halpert Enterprise editor
  • Tuesday, November 18, 2008 6:11pm

Income from sales taxes and real estate have dropped significantly because of a slow economy but the 2009-2010 budget Mayor Don Gough is proposing the City Council approve does not include any cuts in staff or services.

Gough unveiled his proposed $158.5 million two-year budget Nov. 10. It outlines a plan to pay for some new programs and staff positions, including for the first time a manager to oversee implementation of the planned City Center project.

The budget anticipates a 1 percent increase in the property tax levy.

The biggest jump in any one department’s spending is proposed for the Office of Neighborhoods, which more than doubles its budget with money set aside for a new neighborhood grant program.

Other big ticket items include capital projects such as money set aside in 2007 to pay for a new municipal court and justice center, renovations to Fire Station 15 as well as the police station and the municipal campus.

Other funds are set aside for parks and upgrades to the Interurban Trail’s connecting link across 44th Avenue West and renovation and construction of the Lynndale Park Amphitheater.

Some big construction projects planned for 2009 and 2010 are continuations of projects underway: $909,000 next year for Olympic View Drive construction and $750,000 in 2010.

Some fees and taxes will go up. The city will raise fees an average of 3 percent annually or 6 percent during the biennium. Storm water fees will jump 14.7 percent compared to 2007-08, said finance director John Moir.

And utility taxes also will increase 3 percent a year for water and sanitary sewer service.

Officials are monitoring steep drops in taxable income on the sale of real estate – real estate excise tax –which has declined 47 percent from the last time the city approved a budget in 2006.

Moir said sales tax receipts were down 5 percent through October.

He said the city is budgeting $300,000 to pay the costs of proposed annexations that won’t be covered by a state sales tax reimbursement.

And the city, he said, plans to begin charging the insurance provider for the Fire Department’s Emergency Management Services.

“The EMS levy doesn’t come close to covering half of the EMS expenses,” he said, accounting for $2.3 million of the $6 million annually budgeted for EMS.

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