Big holes to fill | Mayor's Corner

By Dave Earling, mayor of Edmonds | Dec 10, 2015

As most of you know, the Edmonds City Council is considering the 2016 city budget, which city staff and I proposed this past October.

While I characterized the previous two budgets as “conservative” and then “cautious,” respectively, I have characterized this year’s budget as "pretty darn hopeful.”

As I also previously reported, we have seen dramatic improvement in our economy and thus our revenues are up.

We have been successful in bringing major businesses to the community, such as Jacobsen’s Marine and WinCo Foods.

Our Permitting and Engineering Departments have been challenged with a dramatic increase in construction activity. Public Works is involved in scads of catch-up projects, and projections for next year remain equally strong.

During my first four years of office, we have been operating with dramatically fewer full-time employees as a result of cutbacks beginning with the 2008 recession.

In 2008, we had about 232 full-time employees; currently, we have about 212. With those reductions, the staff has been stretched very thin in several departments for years.

The 2016 budget focuses on two areas. First, bringing some carefully chosen staff positions back to the workforce to better serve the public, together with one-time expenses such as the wayside horn system to quiet train horns coming through town, providing a long-needed downtown public restroom, as well as several one-time software and hardware improvements in our IT department.

Also front and center will be such additions as reviving our Police Street Crimes Unit and adding key members to Planning, Permitting and Engineering to keep the workflow moving for home improvement and construction permits, as well as Public Works staff to perform major infrastructure projects.

We have a very productive and professional staff here in Edmonds. When we have true budget challenges, we need to reduce. When the economy expands, we in turn acknowledge that workload increases.

The budget is a common-sense approach intended to acknowledge necessary, one-time improvements and additional staff, balanced against strong revenues.

It is a restrained budget, does not overspend, and keeps us with healthy reserves. We need to keep the city on the move … common sense, restrained.

 

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