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Proposed preliminary draft 2008 budget submitted to City Council

ARLINGTON The proposed preliminary draft 2008 budget for the city of Arlington was submitted to the City Council Oct. 1, but Arlington City Administrator Allen Johnson explained that the document represented nearly a years worth of work.
It starts with the Council retreats in January, Johnson said. The boards and commissions feed off community input. From there, the city staff and departments draw up their budgets while keeping in mind the Councils priorities. From there, Finance Director Kathy Peterson and I work to turn it into a preliminary draft which must be submitted to the Council, by statute, by Oct. 1.
As the name indicates, the preliminary draft still has a few steps left before it can be accepted, including an Oct. 8 City Council workshop, the distribution of the draft budget with a message from Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson Nov. 1, a public hearing on the preliminary budget and the property tax levy Nov. 5, the adoption of the property tax levy Nov. 20 and the final public hearing on, and adoption of, the budget Dec. 3.
We can make changes all the way up to Dec. 3, after which point it becomes a legally binding budget, Johnson said. To make it work we have to balance the requests weve received with the money we have. Well be spending the next two months answering questions and making sure this is what people want, but this is a balanced budget. If theres something they want thats not in here, they need to tell us what else we should cut because we cant spend more than we take in.
Johnson noted that more than 50 percent of the proposed preliminary budget is devoted to public safety, including the new firefighter and police personnel who were already added in 2007.
Its primarily a hold the line budget for most, if not all, of the departments, said Peterson, who explained that the cost-of-living adjustment has been proposed for non-represented employees, and in increase from 12 percent to 16 percent in health insurance costs.
Because of the 1 percent cap for raising property taxes in Washington state, a majority of the citys revenues come from its sales and business taxes. The preliminary draft budget for 2008 proposes a property tax increase of one percent, an increase from 5 percent to 6 percent in the business taxes for water, sewer, solid waste and TV cable.

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