Franklin releases 2021 budget, public hearings in October
EVERETT — Mayor Cassie Frankin’s $411 million budget doesn’t reverse most of the city’s coronavirus-driven cutbacks during 2020, but the message from her office is the city will innovate to get a stronger footing for the future.
Franklin released the budget together with her annual mayor’s budget address last week.
The City Council will discuss the budget and hold public input hearings during October and early November.
In the budget, the Police Department will add three officers using money from a federal U.S. Department of Justice C.O.P.S. grant: One officer will be assigned to bolster traffic enforcement, and two will work as bicycle cops to expand the bicycle patrol program citywide. This stays true to a plan Police Chief Dan Templeman outlined in August.
The Police Department’s body cameras program will grow, and the city is seeking grant funding to make body cameras department-wide, Franklin said.
Everett Fire added 10 employees thanks to a separate federal grant.
Near the start of her address, Franklin pointed out the city added an Equity Manager this year to focus on inclusivity and diversity. A reorganization helped set up this new position without adding personnel costs.
The city planning department will see additions in 2021 under the budget to handle increase permit activity.
Embedded social workers will move from the Police Department to the city’s Community Development division, but they will still work together with police.
Franklin highlighted promising results so far on a call for outside groups to take up city parks programs. The call for bids concludes in October.
The Carl Gipson Senior Center specifically has been transitioned out of the city budget, saving about $650,000. The center ceased being available this spring due to COVID-19, and then closed permanently as a city program as part of a series of city budget cuts in April. City officials hope to find a private group to conduct programming inside the center.
The Forest Park Swim Center, axed in April’s budget cuts, won’t reopen unless a suitor appears. Residents can use the Everett Y pool at similar rates.
“Once we know which proposals are viable, we can begin discussions around vital programs such as senior center services and Camp Patterson,” Franklin said in her budget address.
The parks budget focuses on maintenance. Programming was largely already sliced from the budget a $3.4 million reduction package approved in April, including the city’s petting zoo, summer concerts, public pianos and typewriter events, and its Fourth of July festivities. The Sorticulture Garden Arts Festival will happen next year if groups can gather in large numbers.
The city is ending its Safe Streets jail diversion program, a work crew program for individuals arrested for low-level crime to be referred for the work crew instead of jail. Instead, Everett is joining the county’s diversion program led by the county prosecutor’s office to connect people with case managers. “Diversion strategies such as this have been shown to lead to better outcomes, so really we’re pleased to be part of this work,” Franklin said in her budget address.
The city wants to attract green-economy jobs, and Franklin said the city is “positioning Everett as a green economy hub for the future.” Two highlights Franklin noted are that Amazon will open a robotic distribution center in southwest Everett and that InFarm, a food-growing company, opened in the Delta Neighborhood.
Her budget retains funding for the city’s long-range climate action plan.
No-one has forgotten the immense presence of aerospace.
“Aerospace has been hit hard by the pandemic and economic shutdown,” Franklin said in her address. “A priority area for me and our team will be fighting for aerospace jobs, which are vital to our economy.”
Boeing, in July, announced it is considering whether to consolidate manufacture of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner due to less demand; it’s currently built at Boeing Everett and a non-union plant in Charleston, South Carolina. Boeing Everett’s other jetliner output is the 777, 767 and soon-to-end 747.
The city still can’t shake the demon of its structural deficit, in which the costs of running the city exceeds tax revenues. A five-year forecast pegs the deficit for 2022 at $11.3 million. It’s not an unprecedented high, but continues to require reining in.
The city’s general government budget, for its day-to-day operations, makes up $136.2 million of Franklin’s overall $411 million budget. The general government section doesn’t include utilities nor independent “enterprise” operations such as Everett Transit and golf.
Its top three pieces are public safety ($78 million), city government functions ($24 million) and economic development, parks and cultural purposes ($15.9 million).
Cities must produce a balanced budget annually. Some municipal leaders point to Tim Eyman’s 1 percent property tax cap for creating today’s revenue problems.
In other news, the city will “continue exploring the possibility of forming or joining a regional fire authority with our neighbors,” Franklin said. It is a way to make the fire department an independent taxing agency.
The city also has studied asking residents to approve a parks maintenance tax ballot measure to reduce its deficit.
Major 2021 projects
• Bridges along Mukilteo Boulevard: Seismically retrofitting the Maple Heights bridge, design work toward replacing the “seismically deficient” Edgewater Bridge
• Completing Emma Yule Park on Colby
• Replacing playgrounds at Thornton A. Sullivan Park and Howarth Park
• Work to put a trail around all of Silver Lake
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