Budget season opens with the mayor’s final budget

October 15, 2013

By Peter Clark

Mayor Ava Frisinger presented her final budget proposal, which includes $98.3 million in budgeted expenditures, to the City Council Oct. 7.

It includes adding a new human services manager and a police officer, increasing funding for “sustainable” efforts and $55,000 for a feasibility study into a campus to consolidate the locations of city services.

“I’m extremely proud to reflect on the last 16 years,” Frisinger told the council as she presented her budget to them. “Today, we’re planning for what’s next: a commitment to environmental protection, a strong economic base and a strong quality of life for our citizens.”

In order to follow council direction as laid out in May’s goal-setting retreat, the administration’s proposed budget rolls out a number of proposed projects, streamlines departments and fund programs.

 

Staffing changes

Four new full-time positions will be added, equaling 259 employees citywide. This marks the highest growth in employment since financial constrictions brought staffing levels down from 276 full-time employees in 2009.

The change reflects a new deputy director for the Parks & Recreation Department, new city inspectors and new administrative staff in other departments. Though four new positions were added, the adjustment has four other departments losing staffing positions.

Most notably, the proposed budget includes funding for a new police officer and a new human services manager to the Executive Department.

Frisinger promised to add two new officers two years ago and this addition fulfills that promise.

“Adding an additional patrol officer to our police department is in response to growth and to promote safety,” she told the City Council during the regular meeting.

The new human services manager is a repurposed position, held over from Special Projects Manager Mark Hinthorne, who retired earlier in the year.

“We are reclassifying it into a human services position,” Finance Department Director Diane Marcotte said. “There was a need in the community, and there’s a belief in the administration that warrants it. Social consideration is one of the three legs of the sustainability stool.”

 

Project funding

Both the council and administration agreed investigating the feasibility of a consolidated city campus was a priority.

“Physical locations of offices is a barrier to effective communication,” the proposed budget reads. It recognizes such a campus as a long-term project, which will require an identification of needs and location. However, it argues that putting “the majority of city offices to a central location would improve efficiencies between departments, and for citizens and customers.”

Additionally, the largest of the proposed budgeted capital projects is an allocated $9.4 million to add to the $5 million gained from the state Legislature to fund the North Issaquah Local Improvement District. The project involves the design and construction of a new roadway and other network improvements to alleviate traffic snarls around the intersection of Interstate 90 and state Route 900.

Marcotte warned that the capital investment would only mark the beginning of the long solution to traffic problems.

Another large proposal includes $1.3 million for enhancing Issaquah Creek habitat.

Also, as promised by the council in August, the proposed budget includes $350,000 for the relocation of the skate park.

 

Expectations and considerations

The Finance Department expects continued growth in the economy and sales tax in particular to cover new expenditures.

“The 2014 estimate for the city’s sales tax revenue reflects a 5 percent increase,” the proposed budget reads. “This increase corresponds to the increase in development activity in the city of Issaquah, as well as the opening of Phase I Grand Ridge Retail Center.”

Two large outliers remain absent from the administration’s budget. The parks bond, on which voters will decide this November, and a potential Klahanie area annexation were left off. While the bond would inject more revenue into the protection of the Julius Boehm Pool and other amenities, a Klahanie annexation is expected to cost $6 million in startup funding.

“Both with Klahanie and the parks bond, we didn’t want to include them because they are still to be decided by the voters,” Marcotte said, though she said the Finance Department had ongoing plans to fold either outcome into an approved budget. “We do have an idea of what we’re looking at. We’re poised and ready to go.”

The City Council will hold three work sessions to review the proposed budget and then open the discussion up to two public hearings before considering adoption by December.

Learn more about the budget at issaquahwa.gov/2014budget.

Get involved

Attend these meetings to follow the budget process or to offer input.

6 p.m. Oct. 24

  • Council Committee Work Session
  • Second budget review
  • General fund continued, where the council will discuss cash balance, contingency fund, art fund, human services and nonprofits.

5:30 p.m. Oct. 29

  • Council Committee Work Session
  • Final budget review
  • Answers to council questions
  • Deliberations
  • Policy discussion and referrals to 2015 goal-setting session
  • Miscellaneous
  • 7 p.m. Nov. 4
  • First public hearing
  • City Council meeting
  • 7 p.m. Nov. 18
  • Final public hearing on budget
  • City Council meeting
  • Anticipated adoption of final budget

7 p.m. Dec. 2 (tentative)

  • City Council meeting
  • Adoption of final budget (if needed)

 

All meetings will be held in Council Chambers, 135 E. Sunset Way, and are open to the public.

 

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