Updated with letter from Mayor; councilmember comments
My Edmonds News has learned that Mayor Mike Cooper won’t be signing the 2011 city budget that was approved last week by the Edmonds City Council.
Cooper’s decision doesn’t affect budget implementation, since under city law it will become effective without his signature. It does, however, reflect the Mayor’s concerns about the Council’s amendments to his original $35.6 million budget.
“While many of the expenditures Council made during the amendment process have value, I am concerned with the effects these amendments will have on the ending General Fund balance, especially in this delicate economy,” Cooper wrote in a letter emailed Tuesday to councilmembers.
The council’s budget “increases spending and lowers our 2011 General Fund ending balance by over $400,000 when compared to the Mayor’s proposed preliminary budget Council received in October 2010,” Cooper said, putting the city “dangerously close” to the one-month targeted reserve that the Council itself established. As a result, Cooper added, the city will fall $400,0000 below that reserve target by the end of 2012.
Cooper also cited the “arbitrary manner” in which the council reduced the City Attorney’s budget by more than 20 percent, noting that the City Attorney’s expenses have increased 15 percent since 2008. “In addition, the council has done budget amendments inreasing appropriations for the City Atorney in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010,” Cooper said. “While I support collaboratively looking for ways to control costs, to do so without a plan of action is, in my view, not a responsible decision and gives a flawed impression when a member of the public looks at the ending balance.”
D.J. Wilson, the only councilmember to vote against the council budget, said he believes that Cooper’s letter “gets to the heart of my concerns,” noting the budget “has some good things in it, but it also simply pretends some costs don’t exist.”
“It isn’t sustainable, which is a problem,” Wilson said. “But it’s even more of a problem that the Council made no effort in this budget to come to terms with that fact. Ignoring problems won’t make them go away.”
The full text of the Mayor’s letter can be found here.