Arlington City Council adopts biennial budget

ARLINGTON – The City Council adopted a biennial budget Monday that will put more police and firefighters out on local streets, build and repave roads, and expand efforts to boost Arlington’s retail and manufacturing sector.

The 2019 budget will be $54.2 million, with a general fund of $18 million that will add new police officers, vehicles and equipment; new firefighter positions; and deal with increasing public defender and jail costs. The 2020 budget totals $57.4 million with an $18.4 general fund for basic government services.

With Arlington experiencing a construction boom, and forecasts for a 10 percent increase in retail sales growth over the next two years, city officials are funding priorities sought by the City Council, but are also developing a 10-year model to make sure that services can keep pace with growth in a fiscally sustainable way.

Mayor Barb Tolbert called the 2019-2020 budget a balanced spending plan that will carry forward the city’s long-term goals, priorities and commitments.

“This budget lays a sound course for meeting Arlington’s goals over the next two years for more economic development, retail marketing and transportation investments,” Tolbert said.

Much of future spending revolves around catching up with public safety needs to make the police and fire departments fully staffed at a time when the opioid epidemic, related property crime and homelessness are sapping law enforcement and social service resources.

The city plans to hire nine new employees in the next two years, including three police officers and three firefighters.

The police budget also will fund new Northwest Incident Support chaplain services, a domestic volence coordinator position, and put more money in the police equipment and vehicle replacement fund that will cut down on the years and miles that police vehicles stay on the streets.

Costs for the fire department’s three new hires will be split using EMS fund dollars and partial funding for 2019-2021 through a SAFER grant; fire marshal and fire inspection services; a Community Resource paramedic position, and fire academy training coverage for three new personnel.

The Community Development budget includes an environmental impact statement for the Arlington-Marysville Manufacturing Industrial Center, development of a business recruitment program and a long-term revitalization plan for Arlington’s downtown corridor.

Capital projects in 2019 include paving the merchants and masons parking lot and grant match funding for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe 67th Avenue rail project.

The city’s transportation improvement fund is anticipated to include about $4.5 million in transportation-related grants to help projects such as 173rd Street design and construction in Smokey Point, the 204th Street and 77th Avenue roundabout, design and right of way for the 40th Avenue/Highway 531 intersection, and a traffic light at 204th and 74th Avenue.

Transportation Benefit District funds will carry on with the most-pressing pavement preservation work.

Concurrent with budget passage, the council also passed resolutions authorizing a 1 percent increase in the city’s property tax levy totaling $41,043 for 2019, and raising the EMS tax levy 1 percent equal to $9,717.

To view the budget, go to www.arlingtonwa.gov.

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