Mercer Island City Council adopts 2023-24 biennial budget

It’s another biennial budget adoption in the books, said Mercer Island Mayor Salim Nice.

City councilmembers voted unanimously at their Dec. 6 meeting to approve the Island’s 2023-24 balanced financial plan for all city services after they participated in loads of fine tuning over the last four months with the city’s staff and utility board. Residents also provided input throughout the robust process.

Nice and Deputy Mayor David Rosenbaum gave kudos to everyone involved in the accomplishment, with the latter councilmember adding: “There’s a tremendous amount of work that goes into the budget, I know from all corners of the staff team. Especially given the challenges we faced the last three years and the uncertainty that comes with the next biennium.”

Island finance director Matt Mornick said the budget will be published on the city’s website early next year.

For now, a host of the estimated monetary figures released in city documents for the combined two years are: Total revenues of $211.8 million and expenditures of $201.5 million; general fund revenues and expenditures both sitting at $71 million each; water fund revenues of $51 million and expenditures of $42.8 million; capital improvement fund revenues and expenditures both at $21.8 million apiece; and sewer fund revenues and expenditures even at $27.8 million each.

Mornick noted that city operations are an ever-constant work in progress and adopting the budget is a strong starting point to head into the biennium. Accomplishments have been achieved over the last three years and the city and residents are making progress as challenges arise, he added.

Some elements of the budget strategy include injecting some strategic project and service initiatives and new payroll and financial systems onto the docket, and developing a long-term sustainable funding plan for the Youth and Family Services department.

“Because of the prudent fiscal management, as well as the federal support from the American Rescue Plan Act, the city is using one-time savings from the past two years along with federal funds to bridge city operations over the next two years,” Mornick said.

With the recent 64.27% passage of the Island’s Proposition 1 parks levy renewal in the general election, city management analyst Robbie Cunningham Adams listed a bevy of parks work that the city will engage in over the next two years. The tasks include continuing to operate and maintain Luther Burbank Park at current service levels; replacing select play equipment at Deane’s Children’s Park and all structures at Roanoke Park; and digging into forest management projects at Pioneer Park and Engstrom Open Space.

* The city council’s Dec. 20 regular hybrid meeting has been canceled, and the council will next meet in its chambers and via Zoom at 5 p.m. on Jan. 3.