Joan McGilton Defends New Burien Budget: ‘City Is Not Going Broke’
The Burien City Council adopted its 2013-14 budget on a 4-3 vote last Monday night (Nov. 5).
Mayor Brian Bennett, Deputy Mayor Rose Clark, and Council members Joan McGilton and Gerald Robison voted yes.
Council members Jack Block Jr., Bob Edgar, and Lucy Krakowiak voted against the new budget, which was approved after a brief discussion.
The biennial spending plan includes $54,195,655 in governmental expenditures – $40,701,290 of which are for the general fund – and $6,452,654 for capital projects. Anticipated revenues for governmental expenditures total $53,738,550 over the two-year period, with the balance coming from a $1 million, one-time draw from the city’s reserve fund.
Despite claims by critics – most of them also opponents of North Highline annexation – that Burien is going broke, McGilton, who served three terms as mayor, had a message.
“The City of Burien is not going broke,” McGilton told The B-Town Blog.
Noting that “several city residents opposed to annexation of North Highline into Burien used this negative tagline,” she said such claims have been “absolutely disinformation.
“I have been proudly serving the Burien community on the council since 2002. It saddens me to hear innuendo and rumor to question the health of our wonderful community,” McGilton said.
“We are on sound financial footing,” she continued. “Burien has been financially responsible since our formation in 1993 and is currently healthier than 90 percent of our suburban cities.”
This includes very little in service reductions in the 2013-14 budget, which McGilton said “is a remarkable accomplishment by your city council … early on we decided not to reduce funding services” by the one-time draw from reserves which have a healthy balance.
State law requires that city and county budgets for the following year be adopted by Dec. 31. This year the Burien council moved up their budget-making process because some members need to be absent in late November and December.
The new budget is expected to be funded in part by an anticipated $6.3 million in property tax revenue next year. To provide for this council members set the property tax rate at $1.60 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Additional tax increases approved by the council are:
The city’s commercial parking tax, from $1 to $3 for each transaction at the two park and fly lots on the west side of Des Moines Memorial Drive, equaling the rate charged by SeaTac at park and fly lots in that city. The increase will bring in about $100,000 annually to the Street Fund.
The city’s electrical utility tax paid by Puget Sound Energy electrical customers, from 3 percent to 6 percent. Seattle City Light customers in Burien already pay a similar amount in an assessment to cover the cost of underground power lines along First Avenue South.
The largest increase is in Surface Water Management fees, which will go up by 12 percent in 2013 and another 12 percent hike in 2015.
This, noted McGilton, is necessary for the city to cover an unfunded mandate that stiffens federal requirements for local storm water collection.
“Every city is increasing surface water management fees,” McGilton said. “We must comply (with the federal regulations.)”
Every city is increasing its surface water management fees, she said, since they have no option other than implement the federal regulations.