2013 proposed budget includes 1 percent property tax increase
SNOHOMISH - The 2013 proposed city operating budget is projected to see a slight improvement in revenues in addition to good news for staff with the first cost-of-living increase since 2008 and the rehiring of several formerly cut staff positions.
The projected 2013 operating budget is $8.8 million. Sales tax revenue, which is the city’s predominant funding source, is projected to increase by $207,982. Of that, $120,929 is projected to come from retail sales tax revenue. Retail sales tax revenue is showing modest gains, while construction-related sales revenue continues to be depressed from historical highs, according to the proposed budget.
The Great Recession pushed Snohomish to abstain from exercising the 1 percent property tax increase allowed by state law. In this year’s budget, City Manager Larry Bauman is recommending the City Council take the increase.
Mayor Karen Guzak said last week that she “feels pretty good” about the 2013 budget so far and that she is also “inclined to take the property tax increase.”
“It’s clear that the last three years we didn’t take that 1 percent helped us get in the hole a bit,” Guzak said, adding that taking the increase is “the most responsible thing to do.”
The increase would give the city an additional $10,000 for 2013, adding an additional $2.37 per homeowner per year. But the cumulative effect, Guzak said, is where it starts to add up. She said by not imposing the increase in the recent past, the city lost about $60,000 in revenue.
The City Council held its first public hearing on the tax increase Tuesday, Oct. 16 when one resident and one council member spoke on the issue. Councilman Tom Hamilton said he supports the increase.
The final public hearing on the property tax proposal followed by council action will take place Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Bauman also is asking the council to rehire a formerly eliminated City Hall receptionist as well as hire three temporary summer employees for next year. Two of the part-time positions will go to parks and one to streets. These positions were eliminated in 2008.
This is the city’s first year to use the newly established tax-supported Transportation Benefit District, which Bauman said helped the budget substantially.
“The TBD provides more than $600,000 in revenue each year that allows us to reinstate our street program for overlays and major street reconstruction,” Bauman said.
Guzak said she doesn’t expect the budget to be tweaked by the council, which ultimately has the last say in approving it.
“This is an easier budget year than the last three years. We have a little bit more leeway and breathing room,” Guzak said.
Previous budget cuts resulted in the elimination of the police department. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office now provides police services for the city.
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