Everett Mayor’s Budget Message – We Don’t Have Money We Need More Money – But No New Taxes in 2023

Everett Mayor’s Budget Message – We Don’t Have Money We Need More Money – But No New Taxes in 2023

Tonight Cassie Franklin, Mayor of Everett, Washington gave the Fifth Budget Address to Everett City Council. You can click below to see the title, which spans about fifteen minutes.

The budget process for 2023 has begun and is due to end on November 30 but could continue until December. A balanced budget should be passed by the end of the year.

Here’s the headline summary at the Everett City Council meeting.

Mayor Franklin explained that the structural deficit that had been an ongoing problem for the City of Everett for years had been affected by what she said were conditions outside the city’s control including the economic and human toll of the pandemic and the highest rate of inflation in forty years that made services more expensive to provide.

The mayor noted that the administration planned to identify new revenue to create a more sustainable financial future for the city, but given the state of the economy, decided to defer this request and instead would balance the budget with a series of short-term options – over the long term, gap-filling measures such as deferring maintenance of city buildings and vehicles and deferring payments towards long-term obligations such as the LEOFF 1 pension fund.

On the plus side, the city will be making investments in the community thanks to what it described as an extraordinary amount of federal, state, and local grant money. She stressed that this one-off money is scarce using dollars from the US Bailout Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act, among others.

Projects that have been in the planning stages of planning for these dollars will move forward because of these dollars including the replacement of the Edgewater Bridge between Everett and Mukilteo and advanced work on a bridge for the Everett Point Industrial Center planned for an area near the Snohomish River by the Delta Railroad Yard. Work will also continue on the Silver Lake Loop Trail and the stadium replacement at Thornton A. Sullivan Park.

More Everett Forward grants will be awarded in 2023 to support business owners as well as nonprofits. There are three grant-funded positions designated in the Planning section to help accelerate applications that will enhance development. A Planning Engagement Coordinator has been appointed to assist in the periodic updating of the overall plan. The Human Needs Grants will receive another $100,000.00 in US Rescue Plan funds.

Everett will launch the See-Click-Fix app, which will allow residents to immediately report their concerns to the city about things like campgrounds, graffiti, potholes, or other hazards or problems. There is also a plan to add public restrooms in downtown Everett.

More mental health professionals will be added to city teams including both the library and the fire department. Both departments frequently interact with people with behavioral health issues. By adding mental health professionals to these departments, we hope it will relieve some of the pressure on first responders to cover calls that do not require an emergency response and free up resources to cover calls that do.

The mayor emphasized that finding people to fill mental health positions as well as other vacancies in the city is a challenge, so Budget is looking at keeping salaries in Everett competitive to attract workers that all cities across Puget Sound are vying against each other for.

The mayor also said that there is nothing more important to her than ensuring that everyone who works, lives or visits Everett, Washington, feels safe, and acknowledged that many people in Everett do not feel safe. As a matter of fact, during the public comment portion of the council meeting, four different people from the Delta neighborhood spoke of the need to reclaim Jackson Park for the trauma that many law-abiding citizens have to deal with in the wake of the recent shootings. drug abuse and trafficking, illegal camping, prostitution, and other issues. One person requested that gates be installed in parking spaces in Jackson Park like those in other Everett city parks.

The mayor said she is working with other mayors across Snohomish County to bring together a new coalition, partnering with business leaders to provide recommendations and policies to address crime and behavioral health challenges that are contributing to the high crime rates seen in Everett and nearly every other city in our area.

The mayor went on to say that sometimes imprisonment is the best short-term solution so that someone can identify the long-term help they need. She stressed that neither social services nor law enforcement alone are the answer, but both are necessary if progress is to be made.

Susie Hogan of the Department of Finance provided City Council members with a revenue and expenditure summary that included an overview of how the department would arrive at a balanced budget for 2023. (The approved budget for 2022 was $761,494,955.00) The deficit for this year was $13 million US and that were offset by stronger-than-expected sales tax collections, B&O taxes, suspension of LEOFF 1 retirement contributions, vehicle maintenance deferrals, increased vacancy assumptions, and prior year carry-overs.

Budget books will be delivered to city council members on October 13 and will also be posted online and made available at the city clerk’s office. The property tax ordinance and hearings will be held on November 2, 9 and 16 and budget ordinance discussions and public hearings will be held on November 16, 23 and 30 with the final vote expected on November 30. However, budget deliberations can go into December if the city council so desires. A balanced budget must be approved by the end of the year in accordance with the Everett City Charter.

The mayor’s full budget message is expected to be posted on the city’s website this week and we’ll provide a link when it’s over.

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