Burien Council Set To Approve 2011-2013 Biennial Budget Monday Night

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by Ralph Nichols

Burien City Council members are expected to approve tonight (Monday, Nov. 22) the city’s 2011-12 biennial budget along with the property tax levy for next year.

The new general fund budget projects $52.7 million in expenditures, based on $57.1 million in anticipated revenues.

Following a public hearing on the proposed budget during the council’s last meeting (Nov. 8) – at which no one testified – Councilman Jack Block Jr. observed, “We have a $1 million surplus this year … we are blessed with riches right now.”

Unlike most cities in the region, Burien is not laying off staff – and will even give its employees a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment. They have gone without raises for two years.

The surplus “speaks well to the management of council and staff,” Block said. He suggested using this money to purchase bonds, now at historically low rates, to help fund future capital projects.

But, noted City Manager Mike Martin, while there is “wisdom to the notion” of putting the surplus to work, it is also “council policy to set aside 10 percent of the budget” as a reserve.

“We’re nervous. We just don’t know where this economy’s going to do,” Martin said. “This gives us an extra cushion.”

Some prices are already edging up as a result of the Federal Reserve’s recent decision to increase the money supply – using inflation to stimulate the economy.

At the same time, there is widespread concern that if Congress doesn’t extend the Bush tax cuts, the nation could experience a “double-dip” recession.

But, Martin later told The B-Town Blog, Burien is in a good financial position to withstand, at least for the foreseeable future, either an inflationary spiral or the impact of a second recession.

“Very much so,” he said. “We have sufficient reserves and fund balances to withstand a pretty hard whack. I would say for the duration of the two-year budget.”

The city placed itself in this position – making Burien the exception, according the Association of Washington Cities – “not by cutting back on services, but my not taking on a whole lot of new initiatives,” Martin added.

Should Burien take a really big hit from the economy, he would urge the council to revisit the budget and make cuts as needed at that time.

For now, however, “I’m just very pleased that we’re in a situation where we don’t have to have layoffs, don’t have to cut the budget, don’t have to raise taxes.

“I’m very grateful for that. It’s not by accident. It’s the result of council policy and careful attention to detail. It’s a damn good city – it really is.”

The interim city Finance Director told council members during the recent public hearing the 2011 property tax levy is less than he projected earlier due to updated assessment numbers from King County.

As a result, the new assessment will be $1.56 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

“We do have the capacity to increase this assessment to the statutory $1.60 per $1,000, but staff is not recommending that,” Martin said. The property tax burden on Burien residents “is very low compared to other cities.”

But, he cautioned, property taxpayers will see only a slight decrease in their tax because the county, state and special-purpose taxing districts – school, fire, water, sewer – also impose property taxes.

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6 Responses to “Burien Council Set To Approve 2011-2013 Biennial Budget Monday Night”
  1. Burienite says:

    With all the nay-sayers on this blog constantly hacking at the City of Burien about everything they do WRONG, it’s great to see a story like this. Nice work Burien for being good stewards of our money.

    Yes the animal control thing doesn’t look very good, and yes Burien could’ve communicated better about the Ambaum BVLD tree removal, but having a one million dollar surplus is really great.

    My suggestion is to save as much as possible, in case there is another dip in the economy.

    Again, nice job Burien.

    • citizen says:

      When you don’t repair your roads for years it’s easy to have a surplus. After this big freeze the potholes will be worse than last year. If you believe Burien City Council is doing such a great job then Santa is real. Coucil Policy states 10 % is to be saved …Is that after the 1% raises…..sounds like double talk to me.

      • Burienite says:

        And here ya go. Another person taking a whack at Burien.

        If you want to really know what a “bad” road looks like, I suggest you drive the numerous roads in Seattle that have been neglected for decades. Then you’ll know what a real pothole looks and feels like.

        Burien’s roads are more than fair in condition.

        Instead of complaining on the BTB, perhaps you should write, email, meet with once of your council members to voice your concerns. Most people that Bi$*! about government–local, regional, state and federal–never bother to contact their elected representitives. Shame on you for not doing your civice duty.

        • citizen says:

          You have been talking ESPN…I have done a slide show for the city council detailing the potholes during 1st ave construction, and I will continue to call the city when anything needs repair. Please don’t say I was complaining, just trying to open your eye’s to the real world.

  2. thom grey says:

    Duh dude Burienite,
    it is probably important to get the facts straight in this story. We have had two tax increases in the last year-one on property tax and the second on a vehicle tax that is going to last twenty years. That is why the budget is showing a surplus. Next the employees did get a pay raise last year in a year when the cost of living was something like -.86. No one should get a cost of living increase in a minus cost of living period. Yep, they didn’t get one this year cuz some citizens complained about the fact that Burien was slated to be running in the red by the year 2013-out of money.
    Now we are giving them a raise but they are asking us for more property taxes in a levy.
    That means 3 tax raises in two years. What a deal. By the way Burien has one of the highest tax rates in King County. Just don’t believe me or even Mike Martin, look it up on the internet. With all of this extra money, maybe we should question why we can’t run a decent animal control program. Of course sometimes it looks like we are running animal control in City Hall. About 6 to 8 dogs are always running around the place and barking at the citizens. Wear your flea repellent when you go to City Hall.

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