Sumner revenue projected to be near pre-recession levels

The Sumner preliminary budget for the next two years was adopted by the Sumner City Council last Monday.

“We’re really growing into our own, achieving goals that were just dreams only a few years ago,” wrote Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow in his introduction of the preliminary budget.

According to the preliminary budget document, the city anticipates a 12 percent increase in general fund revenue over the 2013/2014 revised budget. Over the next two years, the city is projecting a 1 percent growth in property tax revenue per year, a 2 percent increase in sales tax revenue and between 2 and 3 percent increase in utility tax revenue, according to Sumner Communications Director Carmen Palmer.

“The best way to increase sales tax revenue is through spending, not increasing the rate,” said Palmer. “If you get more people shopping here, your revenue goes up.”

Part of the increase in sales tax revenue will come from increased visits to the city because of the U.S. Open. However, Palmer said the city will not receive any sales tax or property tax from the event itself.

On Monday, Nov. 17, Sumner’s City Council voted to increase the property tax collection by 1 percent. Palmer said that for homes assessed at $200,000, the difference in tax collection will be less than $1 per year. This keeps Sumner at the third lowest property tax rate in the state, according to Palmer.

Both sales and utility tax rates are also projected to remain flat for the biennium.

Overall, Palmer reported, the next two years will see an increase of 2 percent increase in revenue per year.

Total projected revenue for the 2014/2015 budget is a little more than $21.3 million.

More than 62 percent of the city’s expenditures goes towards personnel costs, and the city is planning on filling two positions in the public works and parks departments.

“However, it’s problematic to say ‘new personnel’ because we’re doing a lot of reorganizing that combines and moves around old positions,” said Palmer.

According to Palmer, Administrative Services Director Jason Wilson replaced positions for the former deputy city administrator, the city human resources director, and the city finance director.

“By creating a new position, we eliminated two,” said Palmer. “The goal here is to find new and better ways to do things that cost the same or less for citizens in the long run.”

Other large projects for the city include the opening of the YMCA, expand the wastewater treatment facility, and building the new Bridge Street bridge. According to Palmer, this partial list of projects doesn’t even include the list of projects that currently remain unfunded, like replacing the state Route 410/traffic overpass and funding construction for the 24th street bridge.

“For many of these items, we’ve relied on shared revenue from the state,” Palmer said. “Some of those revenue streams are in danger given the situation at the state with the recent school measure and other legislative challenges.”

In total, the projected expenditures for the biennium match the projected revenue at $21.3 million.