Letters for week of May 30

May 30, 2012

Donated blood will save up to 81 lives

Dear Editor,

Thank you very much for your coverage of the Mukilteo Community Blood Drive hosted by Kamiak High School Leadership students on May 18 [“Kamiak students to host community blood drive,” The Beacon, page 2, May 16]. The drive was a wonderful success, thanks to student efforts and The Beacon getting the word out!

There were 29 registered blood donors (three first-time donors) and we were able to collect 27 units of blood. These units will be separated into red blood cells, platelets, and plasma before going to patients in local hospitals. That means each donation will go toward saving or dramatically improving three lives for a total of up to 81 lives saved because of the Mukilteo Community blood drive!

There are more than 550 registered blood donors living in Mukilteo. Although many donate at employer-hosted blood drives, there are two important opportunities for people to donate around Mukilteo this summer.

Mukilteo City Councilmember Jennifer Gregerson is sponsoring the Mukilteo Community Blood Drive on Friday, June 15, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. and again on Friday, Aug. 17, from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.. Both blood drives will be held on a blood mobile in the City Hall parking lot.

The Puget Sound Blood Center sincerely appreciates Mukilteo blood donors! Blood can be donated every 56 days, so we hope to see lots of Mukilteo residents at the upcoming blood drives. More information on these drives can be found at www.psbc.org.

Sincerely,

Joyce Zeigen,

Donor Resources Representative,

Puget Sound Blood Center

20-foot tree was cut down

Dear Editor,

The theft of a $125 tree was surreptitiously stolen from a garden by having been cut at 3 inches from ground level. The trees in this garden are always trimmed at 20 feet!

Wesley A. Johnson,

Mukilteo

What would a balanced city budget look like?

Dear Editor,

Since when does asking for a balanced budget a “knee-jerk response”? But that’s what Mayor Joe Marine would have you believe, according his Opinion column in last week’s Beacon [“No. 9 city not without its challenges,” page 4, May 23].

It makes perfect fiscal sense to me and other Mukilteo residents I have talked to, but not to the majority of the City Council or the mayor – especially when it comes to paying the future community center bond payments.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, the REET 1 fund (which pays about $825,000 of the $ 905,000 bond payment for the community center) is projected to lose $2.1 million from the beginning of 2010 to end of 2012.

The city started making the bond payments in 2010. That is an average loss of $700,000 each year over a three-year period. The REET 1 fund ending balance is projected to be $3.8 million by the end of 2012.

If continued on the same projected path of losses, the city will have enough funds in the REET 1 fund to make the $825,000 payment until 2017, or 12 years short of when the community center bond matures. This information can be found in the 2012 budget book on page 226.

Where do we get the money to pay for the bond payment? We look to the fund that has the largest reserve or balance. That would be the general fund, which will have a balance of about $4 million at the end of 2012 (page 100).

Since the mayor and a council majority want to cut the general fund reserve balance by more than half by 2017, then those funds cannot be used. So that leaves us with tax increases and/or reduction of services.

The mayor has pledged to not raise property taxes or use the general fund to pay for the community center bond payment, yet in 2009, Standard & Poor’s used those very standards when rating the bond, stating “the city could increase revenues by an additional $400,000 per year with unused levy (9 percent banked property taxes, in which we used 2 percent this year) capacity.

In addition to the general fund, Mukilteo has $5.8 million in a reserve fund (the REET 1 fund, which will have a balance of $3.7 million by the end of 2012) specified for bond service.”

Being a realist, unlike the mayor, I know we will not be able to fund the community center bond with REET money alone. We are going to need help from other funds.

Therefore, paying down the general fund reserve is a huge mistake. Asking for a balanced budget is not only fiscally responsible but starts to put the city in a better position to pay its long-term debt obligations.

Steve Schmalz,

Mukilteo City Council

Fluff and misinformation

Dear Editor,

I’m responding to last week’s Beacon commentary from Mayor Joe Marine, “No. 9 city not without its challenges.”

We all love our city and really want to believe that our city officials are working on behalf of its residents. I really want to believe that things are as good as the mayor’s commentary makes it sound. I REALLY want to believe.

Unfortunately, there are a few very critical misstatements in the mayor’s commentary. It appears that the mayor believes having a long-range financial plan, adopted by the council, is mutually exclusive from another request for him to show us what a “balanced budget” would look like if he had to propose it today.

They’re not mutually exclusive and eventually the long-range financial plan does call for a balanced budget. So, why won’t the mayor give us a heads up how we’re going to get there? I guess it’s because the council doesn’t want to know.

Once we get through the initial fluff, it appears the rest of the mayor’s commentary is defending the poor financial decisions surrounding the community center by putting a positive spin on it. So, let me insert a small dose of reality:

• “a 35 percent increase in recreation programs and 45 percent participant increase.” According to the city’s own 2012 budget, the anticipated recreation program fees (page 215) in 2012 are expected to be $100,000 while in the 2011 budget they were expected to be $130,000. In reality, the decrease in rec programs has been replaced with community center room rental (i.e. weddings).

• “money committed from the general fund is $37,300 less than the old Rosehill.” Let’s be honest here, shall we? The $37,300 number is the difference between the 2012 budget and the 2011 budget. The new community center opened in February of 2011. so only a month can be attributed to the old Rosehill. The difference is because of the additional room rentals (i.e. weddings).

• “modern dedicated senior facility”? It’s a room in the new community center and is NOT dedicated to the Mukilteo Seniors. All one has to do is look at the schedule for the Christiansen room to see this statement is false. Or, talk to the seniors.

• Yes, we will pay $905,000 (actually according to the budget book, pg 226-227, it’s $905,550) per year for 20 years for the new Rosehill but most of that (92 percent) comes from REET1 which receives half of the $700,000 total in the REET (REET1 and REET2) for $350,000.

As I mentioned in my previous commentary, this results in deficit spending in REET1 of $488,650 just to make the community center bond payments. Add to that the additional spending approved in the 2012 budget, and REET1 is operating at a $914,395 deficit this year alone.

It’s nice that the mayor has pledged (“along with other councilmembers”) that “no property tax or the general fund would pay for the Rosehill mortgage” but he seems to have forgotten it’s the council as a whole who makes (or is forced to make) this decision, not the mayor or “other councilmembers.”

Kevin Stoltz,

Mukilteo City Council

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