Public hearing set for Arlington’s first-ever preliminary biennial budget

ARLINGTON – The city’s first-ever proposed biennial budget lays a sound course for meeting Arlington’s goals over the next two years for more economic development, retail marketing and transportation investments.

Mayor Barb Tolbert called the proposed 2017-2018 budget a balanced, conservative spending plan that will carry forward the city’s long-term goals, priorities and commitments.

“We’re seeing the economy improve, we’ve constrained our (departmental) spending, and we’ve made progress in putting more into financial sustainability,” the mayor said.

The 2017 preliminary budget is $52.4 million for 2017, with a general fund of $15.2 million, which represents a 4.8 percent increase compared with 2016. The 2018 budget would total $46.7 million with a $15.6 general fund. The general fund provides basic municipal services including executive, police, fire, recycling and planning.

City officials set a preliminary budget public hearing at the City Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 7. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in council chambers at Arlington City Hall, 238 N. Olympic Ave.

The council in June adopted an ordinance to transition to a biennial budget as a way to help policymakers focus on long-term and strategic aspects of budgeting. The start of the off-year in the biennial budget process will still be an important milestone, but will instead serve more as a review point, or opportunity to make minor course corrections if necessary.

Tolbert was pleased with how smoothly biennial budget preparation went, and thanked directors and staff for how they adapted to the process.

Here are some budget highlights:

* $17 million in capital improvement projects, including completion of Arlington Valley Road from 67th Avenue to 204th Street, 173rd Avenue bypass to alleviate congestion on Highway 531, Quake Field improvements, utility water line installation along 67th from 168th Street north to Bovee Lane, and Taxiway improvements at Arlington Municipal Airport.

* Six new positions based on departmental needs and areas that are seeing increased activity. Positions include a finance specialist, police services manager, associate planner in the Community Development Department and support staff.

* Continued focus on retail marketing plan to boost spending in the Arlington economy.

* Three union contracts are open for negotiation. The budget accounts for anticipated resolution of the labor contracts.

* The budget reflects increases in employee benefits: Group Health, 5 percent and Regence 6 percent; LEOFF Trust 2 percent, PERS (2/3) .5 percent, LEOFF 2 .5 percent and L&I 2 of 10 percent.

Under council policies, the city will maintain a mandatory reserve fund of 8 percent of total anticipated revenue from taxes, licenses and permits, totaling $945,348 for 2017 and $985,556 for 2018, hoping to be at 66 percent of the reserve goal by 2018, Tolbert said. Finance officials will also maintain an ending fund balance equal to one month’s worth of operating cash – $1.3 million in 2017 and the same amount in 2018.

View the city of Arlington 2017-2018 proposed budget online at www.arlingtonwa.gov.

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