Citizen Harry: Meeting three of the Levy Committee coming Thursday

Harry Gatjens

Edmonds resident Harry Gatjens is providing regular reports to My Edmonds News on the workings of the 2010 Citizens Levy Committee.

The Edmonds Citizens Levy Committee will have its third meeting this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the bracket Meeting Room at City Hall. Our second meeting was held two weeks ago, and the committee was split into subgroups in order to handle the wide variety of issues that need to be examined.

The Levy Committee is made up of the following people:

Members: Barbara Chase, John Reed, Jessie Beyer, Darrol Haug, Harry Gatjens, Bill Vance, Eve Wellington and John Carlin.

Moderators: Diane Buckshnis, Michael Plunkett

Staff Liaisons:  Debi Humann, Stephen Clifton

The committee was assigned the following items, by the City Council, as to the scope of our investigations:

-Augmenting General Fund (levy)

-Review City Departments (compare with other cities)

– Capital Targets of Opportunity (levy or bond or refinancing bonds and/or both)

– Review Compliance with Policies (especially the new financial policies

The subgroups we have been split into are:

– Expenditures Review – Eve and Barbara  (ex: weekly expenses; consultant fees; labor trends, etc.)

– Revenue Review – Jessie and Bill (ex: bond refinancing; emails on web; tourism, etc.)

– Levy Committee – Harry and John R  (ex: financial modeling; general fund movement; compliance, etc.)

– Capital Planning – Darrol, Bill and John C  (ex: Yost Pool, Senior Center; Civic Playfield, etc.)

The committee is working to come up with recommendations for the Council on how maintain the economic integrity of the City. Whether it be from increasing revenues, decreasing expenditures, additional taxing (a levy or other tax type). The goal is to know what needs to be done for the next five years.

We have been asked to ensure that the City ends up with a minimum one month of cash reserve at all times. This is a standard recommended by the Government Financial Offices Association (GFOA). We are not to deal with the City’s separate emergency fund, which the council established for use in case of an catastrophic emergency. This fund is $1,927,600 and is in the truest sense of the words, a “rainy day fund.”

The Committee is looking for input from the citizens of Edmonds. You can help by talking about the issues with your friends, emailing ideas to the committee, supporting the city staff and the committee with constructive suggestions, come to our meetings and think how much you are willing to contribute to the financial needs of your city.

  1. Good afternoon, I have been selling residential and commercial real estate for 36 years, and have owned a number of businesses. Never in my 57 years have I seen such trying times financially for so many.

    I would like you to consider the state of our Federal and State budgets. Also consider why people have cut back on their own personal expenditures. We hear that the unemployment rate is around 9%, however realize how that number is obtained. The real unemployment rate is upwards of 15%. Most families are working more for less money. People had used their home as a way of saving, only to find that they have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is the reality.

    I would suggest not taxing the residence of Edmonds more. Consider reducing services. The unemployment rate for City of Edmonds Employees is low, maybe even zero. Why should the citizens be taxed to pay for government job security? Our cities employees are on edge. It would be kinder to begin cutting the cities 200 plus employees now, and giving them a few months notice.

  2. I have noticed that it is common practice to compare a city expenditure of one city and see if it is in line with that of other cities of comparable size. Even though this is interesting exercise. The practice is used as a rational not to cut costs, and a reason to raise taxes. Who really cares what other cities spend? At the end of the day, we still need to keep our own house in order.

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