Bonney Lake prepares budget, foresees growth

The Bonney Lake preliminary budget for the next two years has been completed and was presented to the City Council at the end of October. Mayor Neil Johnson explained in the budget the city will see an increase in revenue.

“We anticipate Bonney Lake’s economy to continue to rebound,” Johnson wrote in the proposed budget, “but do not foresee a return to pre-Great Recession levels.”

The budget estimates there will be a 3.4 percent increase in sales tax revenue from 2014 because of the developing commercial retail projects in both Midtown and Eastown, even though the sales tax rate will not increase.

Utility charges for residents will also remain flat for the next biennium.

“For the average citizen, everything will pretty much stay the same,” said City Administrator Don Morrison. “The only tax rate increase in the budget is the 1 percent property tax increase.”

The 1 percent tax increase is the maximum increase allowed by state law. The city tax rate in 2015 will be $1.428 for every $1,000 in assessed value. For homes assessed at $200,000, the tax bill will be $285.60.

While most revenue streams will be increasing, Johnson wrote that license and permit revenue will be seeing some dips before any bumps.

“I anticipate a slight downturn in 2015,” he wrote, estimating around a 35 percent dip over 2014 levels, “however in 2016 we expect a significant building year with a number of large projects on the drawing boards,” estimating an optimistic 15 percent increase from 2014.

“Overall, General Fund revenues are anticipated to remain relatively stable but flat over the next biennium,” Johnson wrote. In total, expected revenue for the city in 2015 exceeds $40 million, and in 2016 jumps to just under $46 million.

Some of the capital projects for the coming biennium include Eastown sewer installations, state Route 401 and Veterans Memorial Drive intersection upgrades, and the continued development of a new Public Works Center.

To balance the budget, Johnson proposed “to use all the anticipated revenue proceeds for the biennium to balance the budget. This includes the planned sale of the Junction 192 property,” which was the former city hall site.

The proposed budget will not be balanced, Johnson wrote, by any use of the $1,145,500 “Rainy Day Fund” or prior-year general fund reserves.In the proposed budget, expenditures appear to exceed revenues by several million dollars. However, Morrison said it is because “the revenue sheet does not factor in retained earnings – just new revenues.”

“To provide the additional needed capital to balance the budget, retained earnings, SDCs (system development charge) and impact fees are transferred to the capital accounts,” Morrison explained.

The budget also does not plan to create new positions for city workers, and instead proposes to eliminate one project manager position and replace it with a Maintenance Worker position.

“The city currently operates with one less position that we had in 2009,” Johnson wrote. “Although the city has grown by another 2,060 residents since then.”

The budget, once finished, will be submitted to the Government Finance Officers Association for a chance to win the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, which is given yearly to communities that reflect the organization’s best budgeting practices. Bonney Lake won this award for the first time in 2012.