Mayor's preliminary budget has many issues | Letter
Editor, The Beacon:
The mayor’s 2017 budget message says, “Every budget I have presented has balanced our revenues and expenditures [‘Mayor's 3rd budget is balanced but includes tax increases,’ front page, Oct. 5].
The general fund shows $14.4 million in revenues and expenditures. However, the city budget has 22 other funds that show $14 million in revenues and $17.8 million in expenditures, a $3.7 million shortfall. The total budget is not balanced.
$900,000 for street maintenance was put into the REET 2 fund without new revenues. A budget note says there are to be council discussions to decide on “appropriate funding.”
The budget proposes a 1 percent property tax increase, or about $50,000, the only tax increase the mayor says she has made in two years.
The 2016 budget doubled surface water rates, adding $90 annually in fees for each homeowner. The 2017 budget further increases those rates. But rate increases are not tax increases.
If the council increases taxes or rates to fund $900,000 for streets that will be a council increase, not the mayor’s increase.
Salaries and benefits are the largest expenditure category. 2015 salaries were $9.1 million. Proposed 2017 salaries are $10.1 million, a $1 million (11 percent increase) in two years. Benefits up 10 percent. The Comprehensive Plan last year said Mukilteo is expected to increase 1,500 residents by 2035. The city is almost “built out.” With an average annual increase of 75 residents for the next 20 years, why are expenditures growing leaps and bounds? No analysis of the huge increase in compensation is provided.
The mayor proposes across the board increases for everyone, plus targeted increases for top department management positions.
Our community center budget shows a $194,000 operating deficit. Utilities of $59,000, supplies of $9,000, insurance of $20,000 and janitorial and grounds maintenance I estimate at $180,000 are paid by other funds.
The true operating deficit is over $400,000. The facility renewal fund will pay $55,000 to replace the five-year-old Point Elliott Room floor and $21,400 to replace its sound system. Annual bond payments of $908,000 brings total center expenditures to about $1.4 million.
In 2008 residents were told the new center would be funded without a tax increase. No tax has ever been proposed to pay the annual $1.4 million.
Now we are told we do not have money to maintain our streets – taxes and fees need to go up $900,000 to pay for this long-time basic service. Or is it really to pay for the center?
Time to cut expenditures, I think.
Twice Mukilteo Councilmember