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Kartak’s $53m budget cautiously rides city’s growth

SNOHOMISH — Mayor John Kartak has unveiled his first budget, a plan projecting $53 million in income and in spending that maintains a nearly $25 million reserve.
Sales tax revenue accounts for 48 percent of the general fund. With sales tax revenue flat, for the past few years “we have purposely been projecting on the conservative side” with the general fund said City Administrator Steve Schuller but “so far been wrong and things were better than what we thought.”
The city expects to break even thanks in part to a $750,000 net gain in Transportation Benefit District revenues, $600,000 in utilities and $400,000 in park impact fees.
One area where the city doesn’t plan to break even is its general fund, which is expected to decrease from $2.6 million to just under $1.7 million during the 2019-2020 biennial budget period. General fund expenses will rise 4.2 percent, largely due to cost-of-living raises and a 5 percent increase in health insurance premiums.
“The real story is very little change,” Schuller said. No additional staff are budgeted for the next two years. “We’re going to have to do our best to provide excellent services … as cost effectively as we can.”
A highlight of the budget is a 10 percent decrease in wastewater overage rates, the third decrease in as many years. The decrease is estimated to save an average user about $66 per year.
Water rates will rise 2.25 percent and stormwater rates will rise 2 percent.
“We’re taking a hit there, utility rates are up significantly,” Schuller said, though he hopes changes like the removal of the Pilchuck Dam will result in future gains.
Key capital expenditures include $2.2 million on the Carnegie Building restoration; $2.15 million on overlays for Fourth Street and Park Avenue; and $1 million on the Second Street revamp.
On the Carnegie, the city will “not incur any kind of debt, it appears we can do in cash,” Schuller said. The city plans to pay for the project with real estate excise tax revenues, infusions from the utilities and general funds, and state grant money.
The council heard the budget at its Oct. 16 meeting. The council is slated to approve the budget at its Nov. 21 meeting.
The recommended budget is available online at



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