We all pay attention to our own checkbook, expenses, income, and prospect for increases in revenue and expenses. We also pick up on bits and pieces of national economic news; unemployment, inflation, interest rates and fluctuation in the stock market. I thought it might be interesting to give you a snapshot of the Edmonds Economy too in 2015.
In 2013 we began to see, in the nation and the Puget Sound area, a slightly improving economy from the pain and cutbacks we all had to make as a result of the 2008 recession. Last year the improving trend continued. This year’s economic picture is dramatically improved!
As I recall, I characterized my 2014 budget as “conservative” and this year’s budget as “cautious,” both terms reflective of my desire to be sure the economic health of our community is in fact improving. It is.
Let me share some of the several reasons I see continuing improvement: 1) Our 2015 projected revenues are about 3.4 percent higher, roughly the same as last year’s projections for this year. The 2016 revenue projections are anticipated to improve 5.4 percent. 2) The Snohomish County Assessor estimates home values will increase 8.22 percent for 2016. 3) New construction has added $43.5 million in new assessed property values for 2016. 4) The strong local economy bodes well for our community.
More good news comes from the dramatic increase in sales tax revenue. Our year to date September sales tax is about $670,000 ahead of the same period last year. The strong sales of automobiles and construction related activity have led the way.
Because of the desirable community we will live in, we have had flourishing home and condominium sales. Our real estate excise sales tax collections are well ahead of last year’s healthy gains.
New major businesses such as Jacobsen Marine and the soon-to-be-opened Win Co Foods, Salish Crossing coming to fruition, as well as innumerable small businesses, adds to the health and vitality of Edmonds.
All of our business communities, be they Highway 99, Westgate or the downtown core, are flourishing. Five or six years ago, after 6 o’clock in the evening you could park about anywhere you wanted in downtown. Now, downtown after 6 o’clock the city churns with energy and vitality.
This is the culmination of an improving economy and a lot of hard work of city staff, City Council, the Economic Development Commission, Chamber of Commerce, DEMA and the Business Improvement District. We are beginning to build a great reputation as a community to visit for an evening or a day.
While all of the good news is terrific to consider, I must toss in a dose of reality. Remember, we still have a ways to go to the very healthy economy of 2008. We only recently began resurfacing our streets at the cost of $1 million a year. We need to catch up on neglected water and sewer projects, ADA curb ramp compliance, a sidewalk program and other infrastructure needs.
Our staffing levels are down well below the 2008 levels and many departments are now, with this busy economy, understaffed. Our health insurance costs continue to be a challenge and we, of course, need to meet our increasing financial commitments to the staff.
Good news and challenges, all coming together as we prepare the 2016 budget. We are currently pulling together all of the pieces and will present next year’s budget on Oct. 13 at the City Council meeting. Stay tuned…
— By Dave Earling, Mayor