Burien City Council Prepares To Approve Adjustments To Biennial Budget


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by Ralph Nichols

Burien lawmakers are poised to approve adjustments to the city’s 2012 budget on Nov. 28, following a second public hearing on next year’s spending plan and property tax levy.

The first public hearing was held at the city council’s Monday night meeting (Nov. 14), at which Burien Finance Director Kim Krause told them there will be no property tax increase in Burien next year.

In fact, a statutory limit on what the city can collect in 2012 will result in a decrease of approximately $467,000 in property tax revenues compared to the current year.

“For the first time in many years, the city will receive less property tax next year than this year,” noted City Manager Mike Martin.

Krause said this will result in a small property tax reduction in Burien, but she could not specify at this time how much it will be.

City council members adopted a 2011-12 biennial budget last year, which included general fund spending of 20,362,411 this year and $20,375,199 next year.

The budget revisions will increase projected 2012 spending by $436,963.

State law requires local governments to adopt their budgets for the following year by Dec. 31.

In addition, Krause presented a proposed policy change to reallocate 90 percent of property tax revenues to the general fund and 10 percent to the Capital Projects Reserve Fund.

The current policy, adopted by the council in 2004, allocates 80 percent of property taxes to the general fund and 20 percent to the Capital Projects Reserve Fund.

Councilwoman Lucy Krakowiak expressed concern about shifting an additional 10 percent of property tax revenues to the general fund.

That prompted Councilman Gordon Shaw to “wonder if Councilwoman Krakowiak is asking for a tax increase,” since that allocation is designed to maintain a balanced budget without increased revenue.

Krause said general fund expenditure amendments for 2011 and 2012 total $889,263. These are:

  • Reduced salaries and benefits, $211,287.
  • Increased red light camera professional services, $428,000.
  • Increased SCORE Jail startup expenses, $216,750.
  • Increased King County District Court costs, $356,000.
  • Increased litigation attorneys’ fees, $125,000.
  • Miscellaneous expenses for annexation, $100,000.
  • Increased miscellaneous services (voter registration, city newsletter, utilities, city memberships), $74,000.
  • Decreased King County Sheriff’s police services contract, $200,000.

General fund revenue amendments include:

  • Increased sales tax revenues to reflect 2011 activity, $84,343.
  • Decreased utility tax revenues to reflect actual receipts, $997,140.
  • Increased permit revenues to reflect 2011 activity, $500,000.
  • Increased liquor tax and profits to reflect 2011 activity, $180,000.
  • Decreased Seattle City Light revenues to reflect actual results, $300,000.

Total general fund revenue adjustments reflect a decrease of $335,292.

Krause earlier told The B-Town Blog that while Initiative 747 allows local governments annual property tax increases of 1 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, “the city has received notification from the King County Assessor’s Office that the preliminary assessed valuation [of property in Burien] is 9.23 percent lower than 2011.

“Due to this reduction, the city can only collect the statutory limit of $1.60 [per $1,000 of assessed value], which is approximately $467,000 less than 2011,” Martin said. “As the values of homes go down, people pay less property taxes,” Martin said.

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Comments

12 Responses to “Burien City Council Prepares To Approve Adjustments To Biennial Budget”
  1. Coverofnight says:

    Can’t believe after 24 hours that nobody has commented on some of these line items; guess I’ll take the lead:

    “…Increased red light camera professional services, $428,000…” Geez, Louise! Who’s bright idea was this to put this contract in place? Good Lord, get rid of these things and put the money back in our pockets!

    “…Increased SCORE Jail startup expenses, $216,750.
    Increased King County District Court costs, $356,000.
    Increased litigation attorneys’ fees, $125,000.
    Miscellaneous expenses for annexation, $100,000.
    Decreased King County Sheriff’s police services contract, $200,000…”

    The first 3 items appear to deal with an increase in crime in our City, so naturally I think, “Why would we want to take on another area’s problems, too? (meaning White Center)” Then I see the 4th item and almost choked on my B-Town Burger – we’re spending HOW MUCH to look into acquiring that can of worms?!!! So then I get to the 5th item and see that we’re cutting back on police services in the midst of this escalating crime wave? Do I have to start packing heat to protect myself and family? Seems to me that cuts in areas that aren’t related to life-safety would be more appropriate. However, if we do have to cut some police services, let’s hope that the parking enforcement Kojak-guy and his attitude is canned (but don’t be surprised if we kept him around to go after those bad car owners vs. low-lifes shooting from apartment complexes!) I was so disgusted at this point, I couldn’t finish the rest of my milkshake.

    On the revenue side, if we have more people in the area, why are the utility revenues going down? Doesn’t having more people mean greater use of utilities? Then we have increased sales tax revenues and increased permit revenues. With all the business closing, this one surprises me, along with the permitting – I know of so many construction outfits and subcontractors that are out of work…where is all this building going on? My guess is the parking garage provided one big payday for permit fees. I hope these two revenue streams continue on the upswing for 2012.

    Looking back at the numbers, I can’t believe they reduced salaries over $200K, but are paying over $400K for those damn red-light cameras. If people ask me what
    B-Town stands for, I’m going to have to start answering, “Bizarro-World Town”.

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  2. The answers to your observations were explained at this weeks council meeting. I attended the meeting and here is what I heard:

    Red Light cameras – Monies were moved from one fund to another so there is a decrease in another area. The program is overall slightly in the red (don’t remember exactly how much). I do agree that they should go, however. Studies show that increasing the time a light is yellow is more safe than red light cameras.

    SCORE – under-budgeted from actual costs. There was “some issue” (sorry don’t remember what – read in SCORE project plan) that we had to cover for our part of the ownership.

    KC District court costs – We used to give the court 100% of the fines paid. Now we get 50% and have to pay fees for using the court which makes everything a wash so no actual increase.

    Litigation attorneys fees – Sorry don’t remember.

    Misc annexation – wasn’t explained in detail.

    Decreased Sherriffs contract – actuals versus projected expenditures were $200k less than planned so that money was unspent in the contract. Crime, overall, is down so there was less that needed spending. I do understand your concerns on crime and packing heat as many people feel that way. However, overall crime in this country is down and we’re at one of the “safest” times ever. Doesn’t feel that way, I know but numbers don’t lie.

    On Utilities. The City is getting an auditor to look into projected versus actuals. They agree with your views on that. They believe that City Light (my employer) is not properly charging (or maybe just not paying Burien) the North Burien utlities customers.

    Increased Sales Tax. The economy is picking up so people are shopping more. It doesn’t feel that way, but again numbers don’t lie.

    Building permits. Too many to cover. Losts of plan review fees. Some are Navos, Group Health. Overall, the economy is picking up.

    Salaries were lower than projected because the employees refused the COLA ($110k), lowered benefits costs (at least $69k – which would never happen at my employer). The employees should really be thanked for their sacrifices on this area as they came to the leadership of the city and offered these without being asked.

    At Seattle, they’ve cut our pay and hours but never once did they bring up the benefits. That is a very risky and sensitive subject and I for one realize and thank the employees for that.

    Joey Martinez

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  3. William Forest says:

    Joey:

    CRIME IS DOWN so its OK with you that police services are reduced to the tune of $200,000.00 and yet wasted $100,000.00 on MISC ANNEXATION COSTS?

    First of all Joey CRIME IS NOT DOWN, get your head out of the sand we didn’t have enough police presence BEFORE the $200K cut.

    Second WHY are we wasting $100K on MISC Annexation costs? Wasn’t explained.. Yeah I can guess why, because its a WASTE OF OUR MONEY! We should have spent it on Police services rather than reducing them!

    You stated the economy is picking up and the numbers don’t lie, WHAT NUMBERS JOEY?
    Your dubious conclusion is definitely in dispute.

    HALF A MILLION $$ increase in red light services?? I for one an against these things in the first place and MANY OTHER cities have had VOTES on them and they have without exception been voted down by the residents.. ITS A WASTE OF OUR MONEY! Especially when we are already facing less revenue than last year.

    I can just imagine all the additional UNPLANNED for MISC expenses the annexation lunacy is going to cost the city!

    Lastly.. You seem to forget you lost the election in the primary and frankly every time you make a post and get on your soapbox ,you justify my decision not to vote for you.

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  4. Mike says:

    I spoke with a King County detective when applying for a concealed weapons permit. I was told they are understaffed and need additional detectives. I was also told that Mike Martin has promised more staff once we annex White Center. Residential break-ins have increased substantially on the West side of Burien. It seems we need the staffing now. We are not getting the level of service we are paying for.

    When the cameras were installed, the city couldn’t stop patting themselves on the back for all the revenue that was being generated. It now seems clear the only winners in this deal are the companies that provide the cameras. What was once an issue of revenue is now public safety? Ask any taxpaying citizen if they feel safer now than they did two years ago in this community, and I guarantee you the answer will not be “yes”.

    Sales tax revenue is up for one simple reason – auto sales. Look at the year over year auto sales increases and you have the answer. Auto sales are by far the largest source of sales tax in Burien. Look around. We are not gaining businesses in this town, we are losing them.

    Joey, it’s clear why you are not on the city council. Your lack of knowledge and experience is apparent in each of your responses. Don’t insult the intelligence of those who actually understand how business and government function.

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  5. To Mike and WIlliam, all I did was “regurgitate” what was said at at the council meeting on Monday. These are items for the public record that CoverofNight was questioning. Watch the video or attend the meetings if you can. The $200k is litterally what the King County Sherriffs office DID NOT charge Burien that was budgeted. The way the contract works is that if we need services we pay for them. We need SWAT, we get charged for SWAT. Don’t need/use it, don’t pay.

    As for crime at the local, regional, and national level. Overall it is trending down. Don’t take my word for it. Spend some time on the FBI website doing abstract comparisons. Burien in general is experiencing a crime wave at this moment. In a year the numbers will even out and it won’t be noticable, on paper. I’m not looking to take away from the trauma that people experience when their house is broken into. I’ve been there and it’s hard to explain to someone who has never been robbed.

    I’ve been pouring over the 2011-2012 budget as well as previous budgets and hope to write to the blog soon. The basics of what I’ve found are that the City has been making compromises on revenue (not increasing the levy 1%), ways to raise revenue (Red Light Cameras – which I don’t like), cuts to services (patrol officers and detectives), and alternatives to cuts (CARES). Things examined include RASKC versus CARES and the compromise there ($250-$350k or more versus $120k). I’m giving away the ending but the city appears to be hitting a wall in 2013. There has been a lot of fund transfers and other accounting fixes to keep Burien in the black. Not much wiggle room left for the accountants to work with.

    Mike you want staffing? There is no way to pay for staffing. William, you’re worried about the annexation can of worms and what happens when the Sales tax credit runs out (assuming it’s not cut – which I don’t think it will)? If the economy doesn’t pick up SOON (which latest projections say 5-7 years if we don’t double dip) and we don’t get that sales tax credit of up to $5 million a year by 2014 you will have your can of worm fears. Only you won’t have North Highline to blame.

    You’ll blame the council, of which Mr Edgar will be a part of, you’ll blame staff and claim ineptitude. How can they fix the problems and do right by us when we freak out about a potential 1% tax increase which would cost the median home owner 73 cents per month? We send mixed messages when we approve a $150 per month levy for Highline schools yet freak out about 73 cents per month.

    The council knows any potential tax increase or even talk of a tax increase will only have them sent packing. They give us exactly what we’ve wanted since I-747 passed. No new taxes and compromises like CARES to make ends meet. We’ve made our bed, now it’s time to lay in it. All of fears that anti-annexation folk have in regard to cuts in services starts by 2014 if we don’t annex.

    I’m not even for annexation because of the tax credit, but it’s a nice bonus. Keep the city solvent with no new taxes until 2023? Double or triple up on Police to kick the crap out of crime without having to pay more money? Have enough money to maybe afford RASKC?

    We’ll have 10 years to get Burien and North Highline in a good position while every other city in the area struggles to make ends meet. We will be in a good position when the recovery starts. And that is when we all prosper.

    Joey Martinez

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  6. William Forest says:

    Joey.. Your analysis is very muddy. It is made even more difficult (probably on purpose) since the debits and credits are all mixed up together rather than subtotaled, so no comparison of savings vs new expenditures can be made at a glance.

    How can we predict if the $200K in savings from police won’t be needed in 2012?? It seems likely we could do with more protection since, as you put it we are experiencing a recent crime wave. Until the economy picks up its just going to get worse, that’s a no brainer, so police costs are probably being understated in the current budget.

    As far as blaming city staff.. you omit the elephant in the living room (maybe you like Mike Martin and think he’s doing a good job) I think the record clearly shows that he isn’t. The city staff is fine.. However the city manager is badly in need of more council oversight, the lack of which I do blame the current majority on the council for. However contrary to your opinion I believe Mr. Edgar will be much better advocate for oversight than Mr Shaw ever was.

    Your comments about increased revenue for more police with annexation of white center with or without the tax credit border on lunacy.. You appear to want to eat your cake regardless of the fact you lack the money to buy the ingredients.

    I am not a fortune teller and either are you Joey.. you are dreaming when you say we will have 10 years to get Burien in a good position .. As far as North Highline or area Y if that’s what you really mean their problems not pertinent or germane at this time, except the fact they will be a huge financial drain on whomever annex’s them. I am worried about next year and the year after. Get your head out of the clouds joey.. reality, in case you haven’t noticed is ON THE GROUND and in the here and now.

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    • The credits/savings are given in detail in the reports to council. The savings may or maynot be needed. Regardless, it was used to balance the 2012 budget. The rainy day fund should cover any serious issues (Occupy Burien?) assuming it’s still around (both).

      Crime, in the worst recession since the great depression is trending down. Hard to believe I know but according to the numbers that is what it says.

      I know your position very well on Mike Martin. You should schedule a meeting with him and talk to him. He’s available. I did recently to ask some of these questions.

      Shaw, contrary to popular belief and perception was the cheapest most penny pinching SOB sitting on our council. He fought for every penny spent by the council. Now that he’s gone, the next closest is probably… well not sure yet. Hopefully it’s Mr Edgar, but honestly, it will take him a few years to get truly up to speed on councilmatic business. I’ll cut him three years… 😉

      I am an optimist when it comes to what we the good people of Burien can do as a bigger city. If I do get my way I hope you do all you can for my way of thinking to succede otherwise we’re all screwed.

      Joey Martinez

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  7. Mindy Maxwell says:

    Joey to say that people are freaking out over a 1% property tax hike is somewhat demeaning. When people see 428K cost for red light camera project (in the red), 500K overruns on Ambaum project and 2.35M cost overruns on the 1st Avenue South project they begin to question the city/city council ability to effectively manage finances/projects. Not to mention the discussions of annexing White Center. The only thing I want to annex from White Center is the Rat City Rollergirls. When we see these overruns and you are asking people to pay more they have a feeling about that-the feeling is generally WTF! I understand the value to taxes and generally vote for them. I do not see the value in continuing to pay for finnacially unsound activities and projects with poor oversight. This is no way to run a city. People are tired of business as usual and you are getting feedback on this issue not because of the 1% but because of the poor fiscal decisions that have made and I am sure will continue to be made.

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    • Mindy, there is a poll on this site that speaks for itself. Please read the comments and judge for yourself.

      The red light camera cost is a fund transfer. It was in either Streets or SWM (don’t recall)but was moved to the general fund. There is no actual increase/decrease. Just where the cost and revenue gets attributed to. Personally, I think they should go. There are studies that show that increasing the duration of a yellow light are more effective than Red Light cameras.

      The overages are related to many things, some of which are overruns and management. Here is a personal example I can give. In Government we have learned to over estimate both the time and cost of projects. Think of the last WSDOT project. They said it’d take X days. We were SO happy when they finished that project 2,3,5(?) days early.

      (cut and paste from another post) Unfortunately the great recession has forced me to give as accurate a prediction as possible on a project that is a year away. The only way to do that is to do a best guestimate. Since budgets are tight we try and give a number small enough so it gets approved.

      Stuff happens with estimates and unforseen issues. I am sure the budget would have been about $1 million higher 5 years ago and he would have reported 500k under budget (related to Ambaum project).

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  8. Coverofnight says:

    Good Lord……! After reading these follow-up posts, I’m thinking that Joey Martinez must have graduated from the Joe McDermott Policy and Accounting Center with a major in cluelessness!

    He states, “…In Government we have learned to over estimate both the time and cost of projects…” How irresponsible that statement is and how flippant he feels about actually doing a good job and try to get the most bang out of the public’s buck! Doesn’t matter that it’s not his money; so if (and that’s a big IF) the project is on time and under budget, the politicians look like heroes. But if it all goes south, then it’s the engineer’s fault or the contractor – anyone but the elected official (Gee, that sounds so familiar). It’s all about image and getting re-elected.

    Thank God Joey “Obama-in-training” Martinez didn’t get elected. I’m just sad that Diana Toledo didn’t win and now we’re stuck with Joe McTaxman.

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    • So, if you can’t attack and defeat the man’s ideas you attack the man. That’s step two in the Tea Party’s playbook.

      I do agree with you with the second paragraph for the most part. That’s how it works, for the most part. In Seattle, in Burien, in Olympia, California, Florida… “That’s Politics baby”.

      Guess what though. Right now, I am that engineer that gets blamed.

      Joey Martinez – from my own PC at home.

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