Good government is one that has clearly defined the issues it wants to solve and engages all the stakeholders who can help create solutions which are measurable and sustainable. It must also be willing to adjust as situations change.
Lived here for 46 years, and after volunteering on civic issues for 20 years I have seen multiple budget cycles. Expenses have grown faster than revenues, and before the current events the gap has grown wider in recent years and the 2020 budget has the widest gap in recent history. Reserves are being reduced. Current issues will only create a wider gap that is already planned.
Basically, the problem we are trying to solve is “How do we close the gap between expenses and revenues?”
So, who should be the stakeholder at the table to sort out potential solutions? Basically, all of us or at least a significant cross section of our population to represent the various interests in Edmonds. See the recommendation below. This recommendation was garnered by more than 78% of the folks responding to the Strategic Action Plan.
Before all the current issues, the budget already showed a reduction of revenues and an increase in expenses. The gap got bigger! Reserves were already planned to go down!
To deal with the gap that was already projected, city council approved a budget that had a 25% increase in EMS taxes. The implementation of this tax requires action by council that is not even on the agenda for 2020?
During the last budget cycle and continuing now, council has pushed off into the future some expenses for Civic Park, water projects, and deferred more maintenance on our buildings and streets. Recently it assigned some of our reserves to the effort to complete the Waterfront Activities Center. It is doubtful the performing arts center will be able to meet its obligations to the city as well. And we continue to look for $30 million for the marsh and we have no current plans for waterfront access.
Recommendation: =All told we have some big budget issues to solve and what better way to solve them than a community effort as outlined in the Strategic Action Plan already approved by Council twice! That recommendation would to be establish the Budgeting by Outcomes or what others call Budgeting by Priorities model for our current budget issues. The gap between revenues and expenses was already growing and with the fallout from the current issues the gap will be larger!
Council has their hands (washed of course) full and the rest of us are just sitting around doing whatever. We could help prioritize the revenues needed and the expenses planned to help close the gap. We can help if council will let us. Without fixing the gap problem, we will all be left holding the bag. (not plastic of course).