By JESSICA SPARKS
Published May 30, 2012
Council to discuss SHS officer position June 5
SNOHOMISH - The City Council will discuss whether the city should continue to pay for a police officer at Snohomish High School at its June 5 meeting.
The council could decide to eliminate the position as early as August to save the city about $166,000 through 2013.
The council is considering this as an option to balance next year’s budget, which is currently projected to have a deficit of $242,000.
The recession continues to take a toll on Snohomish’s budget, but 2013’s projected deficit is much smaller than 2012’s and the options to close the gap are much easier to choose from.
This time last year, the City Council was faced with two difficult options to close a $1 million deficit in the 2012 budget. The options: close some city parks and/or disband the Snohomish Police Department and contract with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office for police services.
The council decided to keep parks open and contract with the sheriff’s office.
The council began 2013 budget talks earlier this month, and City Manager Larry Bauman is cautioning the council on requesting further staffing cuts because the city’s work force is at levels where additional staffing cuts could compromise the integrity of the work and, in some cases, the safety of employees.
The high school officer position is the exception.
“Further reductions cannot be made without undermining either the ability of the city’s employees to sustain basic services or placing employee work units (such as in maintenance positions) in unsafe working conditions,” Bauman’s staff report says.
The other option the council is considering is using Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) funds to keep one streets employee funded through 2013. The city is currently funding two maintenance positions with REET funds, but the option to do that runs out in 2016.
A third option of using the city’s banked property tax capacity to raise property taxes without voter approval received no support from council members.
The council wants to discuss the school resource officer position at its Tuesday, June 5 meeting. The city and Snohomish School District share the cost of the officer, but the school district has indicated no desire to fund the position for the 2012-2013 school year.
Since the beginning of the Great Recession in mid-2008, the city has shed almost 13 full-time employees. The biggest reductions happened in the planning department, ending with the elimination of the planning director position for this year.
Since 2009, the city has gone without its usual three seasonal parks employees and a facilities maintenance worker who helped out in the parks. The city also has asked employees to contribute more toward health insurance and suspended cost-of-living adjustments.
The City Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the school district’s administration building, 1601 Ave. D.