Amended Burien budget reflects slight improvement in City’s economy

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Burien councilmembers unanimously approved at their Dec. 2 meeting amendments to the city’s 2013-14 biennial budget that reflect improving economic conditions locally.

With frugal budget management, Burien – unlike many King County cities hard hit by the recession – weathered the downturn well, avoiding service reductions with only minimal staff cuts.

And fund reserves used to balance one-time expenses in 2012, rather than increase taxes, were repaid during the year.

But now, rather than just holding the line, the 2014 budget indicates a definite upward movement in the city’s economy.

“The good news for sales tax revenues over the two-year period is an increase of just over a million dollars,” city Finance Director Kim Krause told the B-Town Blog.

Even better, total estimated revenues for the biennium are now “almost half a million dollars over” the original budget projection, Krause said.

This includes a slight increase of $154,000 in property taxes – the result of a 2.43 percent in assessed property valuation in Burien that keeps the city within its limit of $1.60 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Yet, according to budget documents prepared for council members by Krause, estimated total property tax revenues of $6.5 million remain well below the 2011 maximum of $7.1 million.

These documents show the city’s net revenue increase of $4,514,000 includes an additional $1,031,000 in sales tax receipts resulting from improved sales by Burien’s auto dealers.

The city “still comes out ahead” after additional revenues are reduced by a decline in shared revenues from the state, lower franchise fees paid by Seattle City Light, less gambling taxes after the city lowered the card room tax rate, and an adjustment in natural gas utility taxes that had been projected too high.

In addition, she noted, the city will also take in enough additional revenue to increase its reserves from 10 to 15 percent next year. During 2012 the council committed to increasing its reserve account to 20 percent of the budget by 2022.

According to the documents, net additional expenses of $4,127,330 include $3,600,000 from the mid-2012 inclusion of an appropriation to purchase additional property from the Highline School District in the Northeast Redevelopment Area, as well as the allocation of funds for litigation, mediation and settlement of the next phase of the Town Square development.

Under state law the amended budget had to be adopted by Dec. 31.

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