Updated with a link to the proposed budget.
Mayor Dave Earling presented his proposed 2014 budget to the City Council on Tuesday evening. The budget reflects recent improvements in the city’s financial situation, and was characterized by the mayor as an indicator that we have “turned the corner” from the recent difficult economic times.
Unlike the 2013 budget, which emphasized holding the line in some areas and reductions in many others, 4 1/2-percent across-the-board cuts, and loss of 12 staff, Earling said the 2014 budget reflects a significantly improved local economic situation and the opportunity to regain some lost ground. He cited good progress in economic development, a rise in auto sales, the enhancements at Swedish-Edmonds, and the city’s improving business climate as key factors in turning the local fiscal situation around.
The mayor made clear that his proposed expenditures in 2014 include many one-time efforts that will not require continuing funding beyond 2014. These include funding for street improvements, technology enhancements, a paperless court system, parks and open space, critical areas, energy efficiency and others.
Building on the success of the recent Arts Summit, the budget includes proposed funding for a concerted effort to further solidify Edmonds’ position as a regional arts nexus. The budget also includes $600,000 in funds earmarked for projects to be determined by the City Council.
Earling stressed that while his budget proposes numerous one-time expenditures, certain staffing issues need to be addressed. Among these, his budget calls for a permanent Development Services Director, a building inspector, and an engineering position. He stressed that past budgets have left public safety spread too thin. To address this, he proposes funding for a second assistant Chief of Police and reinstatement of the Police Department’s street crimes unit.
“Edmonds has come out of hard economic times better than many other communities across the state,” he concluded. “We’ve made the hard decisions, and acted strategically. Now with improving revenue forecasts, we have the opportunity to cautiously move forward and turn the corner.”
The full text of the Mayor’s budget proposal is available here.
The council also heard a presentation on the Capital Facilities Plan and Capital Improvement Plan, which provided information on both ongoing and potential future capital projects including street improvements, parks and recreation enhancements, improvements to Yost Pool, and options for providing enhanced access to the waterfront. The latter sparked a spirited discussion, with Public Works Director Phil Williams responding to council questions about the range of alternatives to the current at-grade railroad crossings at Dayton and Main Streets and options for studying waterfront improvements and access. The discussion expanded to include the Comprehensive Plan and transportation issues on the SR 104 corridor.
• Pursuant to discussions at the Sept. 24 Council meeting, the Council unanimously adopted an ordinance prepared by the City Attorney to amend the Edmonds Community Development Code to provide additional design standards along certain sections of Edmonds Way. These include revised height and setback distances, building materials, incentives and public benefits.
• The council denied a request for a fence height variance at the Willow Creek townhouse development.
• In a 4-to-3 split, the Council voted to postpone until next week discussion of moving the question of integrating the Harbor Square Master Plan into the City’s Comprehensive Plan to the full Council from the Parks, Planning and Public Works Committee.
• The Council approved the 2013 Sanitary Sewer Comprehensive Plan unanimously. This action includes only approval of the plan. The rate structure will be determined at a future date.
• The mayor proclaimed October as Fire Prevention Month.
— By Larry Vogel