2012 city budget clears crucial hurdle

December 13, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

City Council members inched closer to approval for a 2012 municipal budget Dec. 5, as the document cleared a crucial hurdle.

In a unanimous decision, council members directed staffers to prepare a 2012 spending plan. The council is due to adopt the plan Dec. 19.

“I think this is a fairly conservative budget,” Council President John Traeger said.

In October, Mayor Ava Frisinger sent to the council a $32 million general fund budget — dollars used to fund police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.

The process to form a 2012 budget started earlier, at a council goal-setting retreat in May. Officials outlined priorities for the year ahead and helped shape department chiefs’ spending proposals.

Then, after Frisinger unveiled the budget in October, council members huddled in Wednesday night negotiating sessions to produce a spending plan for adoption.

“We spent an awful lot of time between October and now going over in great detail all aspects of the budget,” Councilman Fred Butler said.

Per standard procedure, council members adjusted the budget to add projects and shift spending to other priorities.

“Not everybody got everything they wanted,” Traeger said. “In fact, we had to compromise.”

Overall, the council’s recommended changes amount to $4.1 million. The change to the general fund is $469,784. The changes include a study to determine how to finance a replacement for or renovations to the aging Julius Boehm Pool, hiring a police officer and using leftover dollars from Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 construction for other projects.

The total proposed city budget — including dollars for capital expenses and from other accounts — is $85.7 million after the council’s recommended changes.

“There’s a lot of good stuff in our budget this year, definitely, that we’re doing and some long-needed fixes on certain capital projects,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said.

For example, the city plans next year to shore up the seeping retaining wall along Southeast Black Nugget Road behind Fred Meyer and The Home Depot.

The council is expected to adjust the budget further, perhaps early next year, in order to implement a staff reorganization recommended by Seattle consultant Moss Adams.

“I will voice thanks to the council’s willingness to endure many, many hours slogging through this and asking very good questions,” Frisinger said.

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