by Jack Mayne Even though the financial outlook for Burien is improving along with the stateâ€™s economy, a 1 percent increase of residentâ€™s property taxes was given initial consideration by the Burien City Council. The Council on Monday night (Nov. 2) began the process of increasing the cityâ€™s property tax by 1 percent for 2016 during the start of its mid-biennial review of the 2015-2016 Budget. With some additions proposed, the city budget will remain balanced. Police to cost more City Finance Director Kim Kraus said the city currently has a structural deficit, where revenues grow slower than expenditures: She said the police contract will increase $450,000 in 2016 and the contract grows faster than any other expenditure. Burien contracts with the King County Sheriffâ€™s office and the amount takes up more than half of the cityâ€™s budget. Krause said city revenues are a bit down and flat until 2017 because the sales tax rebate that came with the incorporation of the southern part of the North Highline Unincorporated Area expires. All of the cityâ€™s current construction has brought in an additional $275,000 in permit fees and a reauthorization of the Legislature has increased the cityâ€™s liquor tax revenue by $170,000. But revenue from the utility taxes are decreasing by an estimated $250,000 because people are â€œgetting rid of their land lines and partly because of the way cell phone carriers are allocating revenues,â€ said Krause, calling some of their revenues from data which isnâ€™t taxed. Some revenue increase â€œAnother good news item is the real estate excise tax,â€ she said. â€œWeâ€™ve increased those by $475,000. Weâ€™ve had some big sales in the last year â€“ large commercial properties and multi-family complexes.â€ On the expenditure side, Krause said there is a 1 percent cost of living adjustment for city staff, down from the 2 percent originally proposed in the city budget. Krause told the Council that some additions to the second year of the biennial budget include $200,000 each for â€œpotential litigation (as needed)â€ and for its contract for District Court services because of a higher number of DUI cases. Another addition to the budget is $81,500 for lighting and security cameras at Town Square and Dottie Harper Park and $60,000 to pay for off-duty police officers to monitor the City Hall/Library lobby and parking lot, she said. Some other capital improvement additions were made, she said, but they were mostly offset by grants and donations. â€˜Substantial needâ€™ She said the staff is asking the Council to declare a â€œsubstantial needâ€ for the 1 percent increase in the property tax, noting that one of the â€œneedsâ€ is the increase of â€œover $450,000 for the police contract.â€ Krause said the average Burien resident pays $13.63 per $1,000 (chart No. 2, above) of assessed valuation and Burien gets $1.59 of that amount, about 12 percent of the total property tax, while about 56 percent of the property tax dollar goes to schools with the Highline School District getting $5.38 and the state school fund getting 2.28. Krause said the Council would be asked at the Nov. 16 meeting to approve the budget changes.]]>
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