Bonney Lake’s budget set for approval Tuesday

The Bonney Lake City Council completed the first half of its budget review during their Dec. 4 council meeting and expected to finish the review and pass the 2013-14 spending plan Tuesday night.

The Bonney Lake City Council completed the first half of its budget review during their Dec. 4 council meeting and expected to finish the review and pass the 2013-14 spending plan Tuesday night.

Overall, the city plans to spend $84.6 million over the next two years: $43.2 million in 2013 and $41.3 million in 2014.

The overall numbers include all of the city’s funds, including utilities and special projects.

Looking only at the city’s general fund, the expenditures are estimated at $13.6 million in 2013 and 413.98 million in 2014. According to the budget document, this year’s plan is a “essentially a ‘status quo’ budget, maintaining current operations.”

Revenues are projected at $13.3 million in 2013 and $14.1 million in 2014.

Because the city is hoping to make up in 2014 the additional funds it is spending partially in 2013, City Administrator Don Morrison called this spending plan “more of a true biennial budget.”

There is an overall gap between revenue and expenditures, however, mainly caused by debt service on the city’s Justice Center and the equipment and towers related to the upgrade to an 800 MHz communications system over the past several years.

That money is expected to be made up through the sale of a piece of commercially-zoned land located behind Junction 192 on 192nd Avenue near the Sumner-Buckley Highway.

Council members had an opportunity during the workshop to question department heads regarding the budget. Councilman Tom Watson focused on sales tax revenue projections, which include a 5 percent increase for 2013 and a much larger increase in 2014, tied to one-time sales tax payments from the expansion of the Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Watson was concerned the 5 percent growth in sales tax was too generous, especially since the city lost sales tax revenue in 2011 and is projected to do so again in 2014.

“It’s hard to accept a 2-3 percent increase when I don’t believe it’s going to be there,” he said, stating his belief that the economy will remain “pretty flat” next year.

Finance Director Al Juarez said the city’s average sales tax increase over the past eight years has been 5 percent each year and that his projections are tied to the state’s revenue forecasts because he said Bonney Lake is “almost a mirror image of the state” in that respect.

On Dec. 4, the council review the legislative, executive and judicial budgets. No new positions are being added in legislative or the executive budgets and there are no plans to fill the executive assistant position, vacated when Brian Hartsell left to take another job, until 2014.

The only new position in the budget this year is in the court, where the city plans to hire a probation officer, a position that is expected to not only pay for itself, but contribute to the general fund as well.

The council scheduled a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to finish reviewing the budget before the regular meeting, at which they are expected to pass the spending plan and cancel the remaining meetings for the year.

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