Council passes balanced budget, mulls reductions in servicesThere will still be flower baskets and flowers planted in city beds, but they may not get trimmed or weeded quite as often
With some pretty hefty cuts to how city government will function in Edmonds, citizens are likely to get a few surprises around town in the coming year.
The Edmonds City Council passed a balanced 2013 budget Tuesday evening. The budget shows expenditures for the city at $78,777,801.
Some citizens will probably be fairly happy with the results because supplemental revenue (i.e. new taxes) are not included.
But city departments are going to be pushed to keep services that many residents expect at or near their present level.
For instance, the Edmonds Police Force is cutting an assistant chief, a sergeant and two officers from their roster. This will save the city an estimated $379,000.
In addition, the city is changing medical insurers, with an estimated $330,000 savings and no loss of coverage.
The city is also using the VSIP (Voluntary Separation Incentive Program) to cut the number of city employees, which will save about $575,500 per year.
These saving will offset the decline in revenues the city has received during the recession.
Smaller cutbacks that citizens might notice include a reduction in Parks and Recreation personnel, which will result in a cutback to the flower basket programs this year.
There will still be flower baskets and flowers planted in city beds, but they may not get trimmed or weeded quite as often.
And, for now, city playfields will be watered less frequently, and many sections of city parks will not be watered this summer. If the grass gets really dry, those portions of the parks may need to be made temporarily off limits.
Part of the Beach Ranger program is being cut, too. There will still be rangers on the beach during low tides, when beaches are filled with visitors, but other times there may not be rangers on duty.
City Council members expressed concern about the reduction of Beach Ranger services and the cutbacks in watering in the parks, and may add additional funding to pay for restoring the full Beach Ranger program and water the parks if 2012 year-end totals show enough money to do that.
Among items council had added to the budget for the year include a rewrite of city code ($75,000), a study of State Route 104 ($50,000), a diverse fiber route ($60,000) and fiber optic customer development ($40,000.)
Finance Director Shawn Hunstock said that those wanting to see the final adopted budget online will have to wait until sometime in Mid-January, but the proposed budget is online at http://www.edmondswa.gov/agendas.html.