Mayor's 3rd budget is balanced but includes tax increases
Mayor Jennifer Gregerson has presented her third balanced budget in a row – but this one includes increases in property taxes and licensing fees.
The mayor’s first and second budgets balanced revenues and expenditures without raising taxes.
Gregerson presented her 2017 preliminary budget to the Mukilteo City Council on Oct. 3. Four more public hearings on the proposal are scheduled in October and November.
“In the first two budgets I proposed, I asked us to take a break from tax increases and live within our means,” Gregerson said.
Although the 2017 budget raises taxes for the first time in three years, “this budget continues my commitment to sound financial decision-making.”
Next year’s budget includes a 1 percent increase in property taxes. It is the first proposed property-tax increase in three years.
Projected total revenues for 2017 are estimated at $26.4 million, up $1.2 million from 2016, while estimated expenditures total $30.1 million, up $3.2 million in 2016. The general fund has a projected balance of $4.2 million in 2017.
Finance Director Doug Volesky said general fund projections for 2017 show that revenues are the same as expenditures. They are both $14.4 million.
“Included in those expenditures are $342,000 in new budget items, which are going to be offset by $234,000 of new revenues for those budget items,” he said, adding that a lot of that new revenue comes from grants. “It’s a pretty straightforward budget. We’re not asking for anything major at all here.”
In addition, the preliminary budget includes cost-of-living increases for all employees and increases the salaries of 14 positions based on the median salaries offered for those jobs in comparable cities.
The budget proposal maintains reserves at $1 million. The city also has 18 percent of its general fund in reserves, about 2 percent more than required.
“In 2017, our fund reserve will have no change,” Volesky said. “We’re not using any of our fund reserve.”
Gregerson’s top priority for the budget continues to be capital investments.
“Our budget continues our recent investments in streets and sidewalks, stormwater system, and takes steps forward to implement our vision for the waterfront and Japanese Gulch,” she said.
Her proposal doubles funding for street maintenance to $900,000, with $450,000 paid for with increased vehicle license fees, business license fees and/or sales taxes. The council will decide which mix of fees and taxes to increase.
It also prioritizes payment for Rosehill Community Center, with an eighth bond payment of $908,000, paid for with Real Estate Excise Tax funds. About $3.4 million will be left in REET funds.
Other priorities include $1.3 million to widen Harbour Pointe Boulevard; $900,000 to extend Harbour Reach Drive; $250,000 to daylight a creek in Japanese Gulch; $150,000 to construct sidewalks, bicycle paths and ADA ramps; $120,000 to replace a culvert on 61st Place West and $110,000 for stormwater treatment.
The proposal also adds funding to redevelop the waterfront on the Tank Farm ($100,000), repair the parking lot at City Hall ($75,000), acquire the right-of-way for a path along SR-526 ($69,500) and to develop a park honoring Mukilteo lives lost to tragedy ($50,000).
Additional funds go toward public safety, including a new ambulance ($288,900), a full-time school resource officer ($121,600), equipment for firefighters/emergency medical technicians ($115,500) and two new police vehicles ($112,900).
Public hearings on the proposal are scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 10, Oct. 17, Oct. 24 and Nov. 7 at City Hall, 11930 Cyrus Way, Mukilteo.
See the preliminary budget on the city’s website at www.mukilteowa.gov.