Citizen Harry: Edmonds Levy Committee reviews its work so far

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By Harry Gatjens

The Edmonds Citizens Levy Committee held its second October meeting last Thursday.  The guest speaker from the City of Shoreline was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict, so this allowed committee members extra time to evaluate where we had gone and where we go next. Due to work and time commitments, John Reed had to resign. His contributions so far had been very valuable so it is sad to see him go.

We then decided to restructure the subcommittees, since the expense auditing group had completed its task: It conducted a painstaking review of weekly disbursements and brought up questions regarding the City’s policies for a number of items.  While you can always find some expenditure you don’t agree with, the committee concluded that the City does indeed run a very tight ship and has been tightening its belt for several years now.

As the Mayor’s new budget came out, we finally have a document that we can sit back and examine and use a base point for our calculations. The budget, of course, is only preliminary and will most likely be amended before final passage, but we at least had a starting point.

We talked about the City’s streets and noted that even if Proposition 1 passes, we will still be well short of the money needed to maintain our street infrastructure. The budget removes $770,000 that the General Fund provided on 2010 for street maintenance. So if Proposition 1 passes and adds $1 million to deal with streets in 2011, the net gain is only $230,000 over 2010.

We encouraged the council members attending the levy committee meeting to try to get this money back into the 2011 budget. Of course, if you want to keep the budget balanced you need to cut something else out to make this happen.

We also discussed the request from the Edmonds Center for the Arts for a $100,000 loan or grant in order to make their bond payments. The City has guaranteed the bonds, so there really isn’t an option on paying; the question is  more of whether it should be a loan, a grant or something else. This does have impact the budget both for 2010 and for 2011.

Also brought up was City Councilmember D.J. Wilson’s request that the committee look at the bigger picture of the levy as not just a budget balancer, but what it can and or should do about the longer term issues. How do we pay for properties the City may be interested in? How do we deal with our deteriorating infrastructure. There was agreement that we should look at these issues more in depth now that we had the budget as a starting point, and we had reviewed current expenditures to be able to assure voters that the City has already taken steps to cut costs.

The next levy committee meeting is scheduled for Nov. 10, although the time and place need to be finalized. Further information can be found on the Committee’s Web page.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Citizen Harry Gatjens continues to promote a reasoned and logical gateway to progress in dealing with the city’s financial problems while leading our Council’s committee. He finds cooperation and produces results.

    In my opinion, he would make an excellent city Councilman, especially if he chose to replace the Council’s current weak member!

  2. Nice job, Harry. The City of Shoreline’s Finance Director will be at our next Levy meeting to discuss the successful method of getting their prop one passed. It should be very interesting and hopefully we will get some insight.

    The discretionary expense questions that were submitted to the City have yet to be answered but we will share them with the Committee once we get some answers.

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