Mayor’s 2019 budget includes parking study, officer for Scriber Lake

By Brian E Soergel | Oct 11, 2018

For the third year in a row, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling’s 2019 proposed budget presentation pointed to an economy that continues to hum. But, as usual, Earling threw in a boilerplate mention of the dreaded “bump in the road” that is sure to come.

“We in Edmonds have also been obvious beneficiaries of the strong economy,” Earling said Tuesday in a prepared speech at the City Council meeting.

“Whether downtown, in Westgate or along Highway 99, we have witnessed a sustained and growing energy in our community these past several years. Younger families moving in, strong sales tax revenues, new construction projects, and a growing and exciting business community.”

To prove that, the mayor said the City’s sales tax has again set a record – over $8 million.

Earling’s presentation marks the unofficial get-down-to-business on the city’s 2019 budget, a give-and-take between city officials and the seven elected councilmembers.

The City’s 2018 operating revenues are projected to be 3.2 percent higher than 2017 revenues, and 2019 revenues are projected to be 0.4 percent higher than projected 2018 revenues.

The budget process began in late spring and will continue through late November and, possibly, early December.

On Tuesday, Earling pointed out that the country is in the 112th month of sustained economic growth, close to the record 120 months. “With that in mind,” Earling said, “prudence dictates that we begin to focus on that fact and not engage in excessive spending. And I know I’m not alone among regional mayors in recognizing this reality.”

Part of that reality, he said, is that in the past few months, automobile sales – while still strong – have begun to slow. This in addition to a leveling of real estate sales, with fewer properties receiving multiple offers and, in some cases, price reductions.

“Also, our building permit activity, while still good, has similarly slowed,” Earling said. “These are three important indicators we need to closely watch.

“Are we now saying we are on the brink of a recession? No. We expect the economy to remain healthy in 2019. However, recent indications tell us to pay very close attention to shifting trends.

So the budget this year is a mix of new, one-time expenditures and some additions, which require long-term financial commitments.”

Budget highlights

  • There are two additional Public Works positions, a new safety and risk management coordinator position, a half-time position for the newly-created Youth Commission, and a school resource officer for Scriber Lake High School located at the former Woodway High School. This last position is funded with the same-cost sharing arrangement the City has with the Edmonds School District at Edmonds-Woodway High School.
  • As South County Fire has not yet settled its union agreement, Earling has set aside an additional $495,000 for its estimated impact on the City’s budget. Edmonds contracts with South County Fire for services.
  • Edmonds will continue to improve its street overlay program with an additional $1.5 million, and increase its building repair and maintenance fund for city buildings from $400,000 to $700,000.
  • With the increasing growth in the city, the budget includes $75,000 for a much-needed downtown parking study, as well as $2.5 million for citywide pedestrian safety improvement projects.
  • The mayor wants to commit $4.3 million to the beach rehabilitation and parking improvements associated with the Waterfront Center. The City also has secured about $1.125 million in grants for the project, whose estimated cost is $16 million.

Earling noted that councilmembers gave him and his staff a series of priorities they would like to include in the budget. He said he agreed with many of them, but could not fully fund all of them, and his rough calculation for their requests is $1.88 million.

Here is a list of councilmember items included in Earling’s budget:

  • Sidewalk improvements: $323,000. This includes the two Public Works employees.
  • Edmonds Center for the Arts funding for operations: $75,000.
  • Transitional housing: $250,000. The City of Lynnwood has taken the lead to purchase a blighted property in Lynnwood to provide transitional housing to Edmonds School District students and their families. Cities, businesses, nonprofits, and foundations have formed a coalition in south Snohomish County to attempt to address the needs of children and their families who face homelessness. Edmonds should be a funding partner in that effort, Earling said, and he said he hopes councilmembers would include an additional $250,000 from their 2018 budget for a total of $500,000.
  • Waterfront Center: $250,000.
  • Marsh enhancements: $100,000.
  • Additional $1 per capita to the Health District above the existing $1 per capita commitment.

Earling noted that, in the long term, his five-year projection shows some economic softening, which would send send modestly into the red by the fifth year.

“We will continue to monitor the trends, and over the next year, if that trend holds true, either we will need to have further strengthened our tax base or we will need to consider other sources, such as additional transportation benefit district fees or raising EMS fees.”

 

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