The city of Buckley is close to adopting a 2017 budget that appears healthy, primarily due to a rebounding economy that has revenues outpacing expenditures.
The budget element hitting closest to home for residents is the property tax imposed by city government, a factor that aims directly at pocketbooks. For 2017, Buckley plans an increase that is slightly less than the state allows.
Members of the City Council hosted public hearings on both the budget and proposed property tax on Nov. 8 and intend to pass a municipal budget for the coming year when they gather again on Nov. 22.
In her formal budget presentation, Mayor Pat Johnson wrote that spending plans for 2017 reflect “a growing economy, new residents and improving revenues.”
Projected cash flows are a legitimate concern in Buckley, where two established businesses – the IGA grocery store and Del’s Farm Supply – disappeared during the past year. On top of that, the downtown core continues to struggle. On the plus side, the city enjoys collecting excise taxes from the two marijuana retailers; and, additionally, Buckley continues to receive investment income from the $5 million it received by selling its natural gas utility.
The city economy has been boosted by a growing number of building permits, largely in the residential home market. Johnson, in her budget summary, noted that the city has “the potential in the next few years of seeing more than 300 new residences.”
In both her written budget proposal and during a subsequent interview, Johnson said her primary mission is to assure that city spending is based on “needs” rather than “wants.”
The city’s bottom line shows a total budget of $26 million, with identified revenues and expenditures for 28 individual funds. When everything is added and subtracted, projected spending of almost $16.6 million leaves an ending balance of $9.4 million.
More than half of that sum is the $5 million received from Puget Sound Energy for the natural gas system.
Like cities and towns everywhere, the heart of Buckley’s budget is the general fund, which pays for essential services like law enforcement, fire protection and emergency medical services, as well as the youth center, senior services, building and planning, parks and the court system, among other things.
Buckley’s general fund is supported by income from a variety of sources. The largest are utility taxes, property taxes and sales taxes.
For 2017, Buckley anticipates collecting approximately $890,000 in property tax. That figures is up from $845,000 in 2016 and represents an increase of .86 percent.