As most of you know, the council has passed the city budget for 2016, which the staff and I proposed this past October. While I characterized the previous two budgets as “conservative” and then “cautious,” respectively, this year I have characterized the budget as “pretty darn hopeful”.
As I also previously reported, we have seen dramatic improvement in our economy and thus our revenues are up. We have been successful in bringing major businesses to the community such as Jacobsen’s Marine and WinCo Foods. Our Permitting and Engineering Departments have been challenged with a dramatic increase in construction activity. Public Works is involved in scads of catch-up projects.
And projections for next year remain equally strong.
During my first four years of office, we have been operating with dramatically fewer full-time employees as a result of cut-backs beginning with the 2008 recession. In 2008 we had about 232 full time employees, while currently we have about 212. With those reductions, the staff has been stretched very thin in several departments for years.
My budget to the council this year is focused on two areas. Bringing some carefully chosen staff positions back to the workforce to better serve the public, together with one-time expenses such as the wayside horn system to quiet train horns coming through town, providing a long-needed downtown public restroom, as well as several one-time software and hardware improvements in our IT Department.
Also front and center will be such additions as reviving our Police Street Crimes Unit and adding key members to Planning, Permitting and Engineering to keep the work flow moving for home improvement and construction permits, as well as Public Works staff to perform major infrastructure projects. We have a very productive and professional staff here in Edmonds. When we have true budget challenges we need to reduce. When the economy expands, we in turn acknowledge the workload increase.
The budget is a common-sense approach intended to acknowledge necessary, one-time improvements and additional staff, balanced against strong revenues. It is a restrained budget, does not overspend, and keeps us with healthy reserves. We need to keep the city on the move… common sense, restrained.
— By Dave Earling, Mayor