Budget talks continue in wake of Prop 1 failure

Cuts are suggested for YFS, fire department, police department and parks department.

The Mercer Island City Council was set to discuss the city’s 2019-2020 budget on Nov. 20, and address the impacts from the failure of Proposition 1. The city also outlined the consequences in a press release sent Nov. 15.

Proposition 1, a levy lid lift that failed in the Nov. 6 General Election, would have generated sufficient funding to maintain current levels of service across a wide range of city programs, including police and emergency services, mental health counseling, safety net services, maintenance of parks, trails, playgrounds and ball fields and recreation services.

“With the failure of the levy lid lift measure, the city will need to make reductions, starting with programs that the city is not legally required to provide,” a city press release stated.

In the proposed 2019-2020 biennium budget, service reductions for the city’s Youth and Family Services Department include reducing a full-time administrative assistant position and a full-time geriatric specialist position to half time. In addition, there could be two full-time school-based mental health counselor positions eliminated. Currently, four counselors serve each of the four elementary schools.

For the Parks and Recreation Department, one full-time special events coordinator position will be eliminated, and other vacant positions will be left unfilled, reducing the number of community events, limiting maintenance and stewardship activities, and reducing Community Center hours of operations.

Other proposed cuts include the deputy fire chief position, and the police department will leave a full-time patrol officer position vacant.

The council is reviewing the proposed 2019-2020 budget including the reductions recommended by the city manager to balance the budget. More information about the depth and impact of proposed cuts can be gleaned from the budget message section of the proposed 2019-2020 budget.

The city still projects an estimated deficit of $3.7 million starting in 2021, which will result in further service reductions going forward.

According to the budget message, the city also is looking to develop a fiscal sustainability plan and hire outside consultants to review the city’s development services and fire departments, as well as its municipal court.

During the review on Nov. 20, after the Reporter’s print deadline, the council expected to give the city manager direction to finalize the budget for the next two years. Also on Nov. 20 agenda was adoption of the 2019 property tax ordinances and beautification fund ordinance, approval of the 2019 utility rate resolutions and approval of the DSG fee structure resolution.

The 2019-2020 proposed biennial budget totals $143.2 million in expenditures across all funds. The city’s proposed capital budget is $15.5 million in 2019 and $17.3 million in 2020, and the proposed budget for the general fund and Youth and Family Services fund totals $35.5 million in 2019 and $35.9 million in 2020. The city expects to end 2020 with $4.6 million in its contingency fund.

Adoption of the final budget is set for Dec. 4. See www.mercergov.org/budget for more.

[flipp]

More in News

Sarah Abdullah is a pharmacist who left Iraq as a refugee. She joined the Welcome Back Center at Highline College and is now only two tests away from gaining Washington state certification to practice her trade. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Recredentialed: Barriers face Washington’s immigrant, refugee professionals

Even with degrees from abroad, it can be difficult for many to get certified in the state.

If passed, Senate Bill 6254 would limit the nicotine concentration of vape products, ban certain flavoring chemicals and require vape manufacturers, distributors and retailers to obtain licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. File photo
Lawmakers propose sweeping regulations for vaping industry

Bill supporters cite concerns over health issues and teen use.

A screenshot of Mercer Island’s new Winter Storm Ready webpage on its Let’s Talk Mercer Island website.
New Mercer Island city webpage houses storm info

Emergency alerts, updates, links.

Alan Roach and his dog, Roxie, reunited in their new apartment. Natalie DeFord/staff photo
Al’s new apartment, a community effort

Mercer Islanders give housewares, furniture to formerly homeless man and his dog.

Courtesy photo
                                Elliot Newman (left) receives his MIYFS Family Inspirational Award from Mayor Wong on Jan. 7.
Elliot Newman receives 2019 Flash Family Inspirational Award

It was standing room only at the Jan. 7 city council meeting when Newman received his award.

A proposal by Senate Democrats would require concealed pistol license applicants in Washington state to complete a safety course. File photo
Democrats seek firearm training requirement for concealed carriers

Republican senator calls proposal ‘unconstitutional.’

Snohomish County man is first U.S. case of new coronavirus

A man in his 30s was hospitalized in Everett after contracting the virus during a trip to China.

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.

Most Read