Latest city budget changes ensure Jetty Island trips,
may keep animal farm
EVERETT — Summer trips to Jetty Island are guaranteed, and City Council members want to postpone ending the Forest Park petting zoo by giving it a stay of execution.
A new set of budget revisions walked back a plan hinging on Jetty Island receiving tourism grants to operate.
For the petting zoo program, slated to end to meet a budget cutback, the parks department wants see if a nonprofit or private entity can take the reins. The seven-week program costs $70,000 to run, and supporters on the council want an earmark kept for it.
The newfound money for programs isn’t new. The city is tamping down its budget by reducing the planned annual pension contribution for the fire and police departments by about $500,000.
The budget remains balanced. The cuts, plus a slew of new fees, help address a projected $13 million 2019 deficit. These include approximately $6 million in permanent cuts toward correcting a fundamental deficit in the cost to operate the city.
Among other changes, the security guard posted at city hall will be removed to save $70,000, a contract with the Washington Conservation Corps for forest management will end, and parking fines will rise from $20 to $40.
The previously announced plan to stop neighborhood meeting announcement postcards remains the same.
The arts budget still is being reduced and a new senior center membership fee will be introduced. The senior center fee would be $30 a year.
Meanwhile, the public works department wants to seek a $4.5 million bond for utilities. That could occur in mid-2019.
The police and fire pension fund, called LEOFF 1 and for employees hired before 1977, traditionally is well-funded. And it’s not unprecedented to reduce or skip directing money to pensions. During the bleak Great Recession, the city skipped a few years squirreling any money away because of plentiful contributions during the 1990s and 2000s. The latest budget plan adds $1 million to the combined approximately $45 million pension account.
City Council members were given more insight into Mayor Cassie Franklin’s planned administration reorganization as she defended criticism that it is just moving people to look like the Mayor’s Office is smaller without actually saving money. A city worksheet indicates moving department directors and assistants around saves a net $307,000.
A focus here is consolidating and concentrating similar functions of government together, city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said.
The departmental remapping also combines some departments traditionally kept separate. For example, the planning department will be merged into a community development and economic development department.
The new organizational chart places four top-level directors as top-level managers overseeing about four departments each.
For example, executive director Paul Kaftanski, who’s been pinch-hitting as the public works director since the prior one was let go by Franklin, would oversee public works, facilities, Everett Transit and fleets; Everett Transit would retain its own director and the change does not eliminate that position, Pembroke said.
Deputy Mayor Nick Harper would oversee planning and other functions.
The city began advertising for a public works director this month, with the job window closing Oct. 29.
The City Council will be asked to approve these organizational changes with a vote this month.
The budget will go through public hearings during November before the council considers passing the budget in December.
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