City Council Hosts November 1st Public Hearing
The Kirkland City Council will hold a public hearing on November 1 for the purpose of receiving public comment on the proposed 2011-2012 Budget. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m., Kirkland City Hall, Council Chambers, 123 5th Avenue. The preliminary Budget, as well as video links to City Council meetings where the Budget is discussed, is available online at www.ci.kirkland.wa.us/budget.
The City Manager’s Proposed Budget Message notes that, although Kirkland has fared better than many jurisdictions in dealing with the continued impacts of the economic recession, the preliminary budget reflects significant reductions, few revenue increases and limited use of one-time funds and strategies to ensure anticipated revenue equals anticipated expenditures. The proposed budget makes limited use of reserves and does not continue furloughs to balance revenues and expenditures. This strategy supports the City Council’s key objective to create a sustainable budget.
The proposed two-year budget totals $435 million and is comprised of over 24 separate funds. The largest is called the General Fund which supports basic services such as police, fire protection, emergency medical services and maintenance of City infrastructure such as streets and parks. Services in the General Fund are primarily funded through sales tax, property tax and utility taxes.
Projections for 2011-2012 indicated a $7 million gap between revenue the City expects to receive and the cost of providing City services and programs. The gap is a result of continuing economic challenges and the anticipated impact of voter initiatives. The preliminary Budget was balanced primarily through the use of service level reductions. More than 16 positions are proposed to be reduced or eliminated. The budget also seeks Council’s consideration of implementing a fee for emergency medical service transport (ambulance fee) that can be billed to insurance providers to offset reductions proposed in the Fire and Emergency Medical Services budget. A Transportation Benefit District is also being considered to enhance road maintenance activities.
The June 1, 2011 annexation of the Finn Hill, North Juanita and Kingsgate areas will present an opportunity to retain some of the eliminated positions to service the larger city. The City Council will be considering proposed “service packages” for annexation services that are funded by revenue generated by the annexation area and the State annexation sales tax credit. The annexation did not contribute to the shortfall. In fact, 11 of the proposed position reductions can be moved to annexation positions as they become available.
At a special study session on October 28, the City Council will discuss the proposed Budget. In addition to the November 1 Public Hearing, the City Council will discuss the Budget on November 8 and will hold a third public hearing on November 16. The City Council is expected to adopt the budget, final property tax levy, and 2011-2016 Capital Improvement Plan at its December 7 meeting.
The budget process determines the types and levels of services that the City can provide and the City Council is interested in hearing from residents and businesses about what is being proposed in the preliminary budget. To submit questions or concerns email firstname.lastname@example.org, call the Finance & Administration Department at 425-587-3100, or provide public comment at a City Council meeting.
To receive email updates on the 2011-2012 Budget, City Council Agendas and other city information, visit www.ci.kirkland.wa.us/e-bulletins.