2007 draft budget for city explained by City Administrator

ARLINGTON In preparation for the Arlington City Councils Dec. 4 public hearing, on the 2007 draft budget for the city of Arlington, Arlington City Administrator Allen Johnson explained the parts of the proposal Nov. 20.
Johnson prefaced that the process of developing the budget included input from the City Council, obtained at Council retreats and workshops, as well as through reviews of the preliminary budget, conducted by the Council Finance and Government Operations Committee. He then summarized the current draft for 2007 as an approximately $64.4 million total budget, covering all facets of city operations, including funds for maintenance and operations, capital, debt and reserve.
Johnson acknowledged that this budget would be approximately $8 million more than the budget for 2006, and approximately $5.7 million more than the actual budget for 2005, before clarifying that most of the budget increase is from capital projects, especially utilities. He broke down the distribution of the 2007 draft budget as 48 percent for capital, 45 percent for maintenance and operations, 4 percent for reserve and 3 percent for debt.
Johnson specified that the key assumptions underlying the draft budget were an estimated sales tax collection of $3.5 million, and the passage of the proposed property tax increase of 1 percent, the latter of which was unanimously approved by the Council Nov. 20.
Johnson explained that property tax makes up 35 percent of the citys tax sources, while sales tax constitutes 34 percent, business tax comprises 18 percent, real estate excise tax contributes 6 percent, motor vehicle fuel tax chips in 4 percent, and 1 percent each comes from gambling, leasehold excise, and hotel and motel taxes. He elaborated that the leasehold excise tax is from the Arlington Airport, while the motor vehicle fuel tax funds streets maintenance and operations, and the property tax includes the emergency medical services levy.
Johnson reiterated that 54 percent of each local tax dollar, paid by Arlington citizens, goes toward public safety, including 33.4 percent for the police, 17.4 percent for fire, and 3.2 percent for criminal justice. Of the remaining 46 percent, 11 percent is spent on community and economic development, 8.5 percent each on administration and streets, 6.5 percent each on finance and the parks and library, and 5 percent on facilities.
Johnson emphasized that the citys level of service will equal that provided in 2006, and that the 2007 draft budget implements goals adopted by the Council at their January and May retreats this year, such as the establishment of a permit center at the renovated Hogan building, across Third Street from the police station, and a continued commitment to improving the condition of the citys streets. He added that the budget likewise covers the second year of the economic development plan, as well as the emergency management plan.
Of the total revenue sources for 2007, Johnson placed the beginning fund balance at 31 percent, which is the carryover from 2006, while he put the interfund internal transfers at 19 percent, property and sales taxes combined at 16 percent, charges for service at 15 percent, loans and bond proceeds at 11 percent, and leases and rentals, mostly from the airport, at 4 percent. Permits would account for 1 percent of the citys revenue, while intergovernment payments and transfers from other government entities, such as the narcotics task force, would amount to 3 percent.
Johnson listed the capital funds projects for 2007 as including the ongoing Olympic Avenue reconstruction, the second phase of work on Legion Park, $85,000 toward the maintenance and rehabilitation of various streets and sidewalks, $125,000 toward the Performing Arts Center in partnership with the Arlington School District, $25,000 toward cemetery improvements, the first phase of Jensen Park improvements, Hadley Hall improvements, work on the roof of City Hall, and $17,000 toward stream restorations in partnership with the Stilly-Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force. At the same time, water system improvements would total $4,108,300, sewer system improvements would total $3,689,375, airport capital projects would total $793,500, and 135 acres would be set aside for recreation and salmon recovery at the Graafstra conservation area.
Johnson pointed to additional requests funded by the draft budget, such as the replacement of bunker gear and self-contained breathing apparatus equipment for the Arlington Fire Department, as well as hazardous materials operation costs shared with the Marysville Fire District. The budget also seeks to replace six in-car computer systems, 12 in-car Nextel phones and 12 digital cameras for the police department, in addition to funding its volunteer recruit academy. EMS equipment upgrades factored into the budget include an automatic ventilator, stretchers, a vehicle stabilizer and a stair-chair.
The additional requests funded by the budget, and not related to public safety, amounted to vehicle replacements from the equipment depreciation fund, among them light-duty trucks for water and wastewater, a mowing deck and sprayer for the airport, a replacement vehicle for the citys Utilities Manager, and the replacement of two patrol vehicles and one unmarked police vehicle.
Johnson closed his presentation by listing the components of the 2007 draft budgets total of $2,096,162 in debt service payment, including $85,680 toward street-sweeper and aid cars, $819,115 toward the water and sewer revenue bond and public works trust fund loans, $79,585 toward the airport CERB and building loan, $88,725 toward the library property, $683,907 toward the police station, and $339,150 toward street improvements in the Jensen Farm area.

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