Everett's Mayor Franklin releases 2022 budget, to ask voters for property tax lid lift next year
EVERETT — Mayor Cassie Franklin’s $446.5 million 2022 budget proposal continues to take novel approaches toward keeping the budget balanced, and adds to specific focuses on climate change, homelessness and equity. But to keep city finances sustainable, Franklin will be seeking a city ballot measure next year to increase property taxes more than usual.
Franklin wants to ask voters to approve a property tax lid lift of greater than the state’s annual 1% increase limit. A levy lid lift would plump the budget by $8 million.
It’s to help relieve Everett’s ongoing structural deficit of being cashflow-negative.
Saying in her annual budget address Sept. 29 that the city has nothing more to cut,
“to balance future budgets, we have to look at other options,” Franklin said. “I believe it’s time to allow voters to weigh in on which services and at what level they are willing to support before we propose more cuts in future budgets. Everett residents should have a direct voice in these decisions.”
Public budget hearings are set for November. The entire budget will be published next week at www.everettwa.gov/budget
In her budget, the mayor will add a full-time homelessness response coordinator to strategize on chronic homelessness, as well as add staff to address encampments.
A standalone responsive homeless encampment cleanup team will be assembled. Right now, the cleanups is mixed in with other tasks within Public Works.
Franklin’s budget also adds a full-time library fundraising developer to pursue grant money for Everett’s public library system. The Everett Animal Shelter added a fundraising development manager in 2019 with success, the mayor noted.
The budget also converts a full-time position into a resource conservation specialist, whose job is making suggestions how to reduce waste within the city. That person will be within the Parks & Facilities department.
Overall, Franklin’s 2022 budget adds 13 positions. These include restoring some positions cut in 2020 in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic compressing the economy.
The budget includes adding back 10 bus drivers for Everett Transit.
The Forest Park Swim Center is not funded to reopen, but the city hopes to attract a partner to take on the pool’s operations, similar to how it found a partner to re-establish operations at the Carl Gipson Senior Center.
The General Government budget, which is the city’s day-to-day operating budget, is $155.3 million while earning a projected $139.8 million in revenue for 2022.
One of Franklin’s goals is to make Everett “the hub of the green economy,” she said in her address. The mayor spotlit how the city recruited green energy and nuclear companies and praised that indoor vertical farming company Infarm made Everett its global headquarters.
The push is for diversification. Consider this: When Boeing halted the 787 at the Everett plant, this decision sucked out an average of $3.5 million in annual city revenue for Everett, city financial office reports show.
The city is nudging manufacturers to open shop on 100 vacant acres along the Snohomish River peninsula northeast of where U.S. 2 meets Interstate 5. The city is calling the land the Everett Point Industrial Center (EPIC) It also had looked to relocate the city public works department to a new building at this EPIC site.
The longstanding structural deficit is because running the city exceeds the income earned from taxes and service fees.
It’s typically cut services in past years to meet a balanced budget.
The city fixed its structural deficit for 2022’s budget by using carryover money not spent in 2020.
The levy lid lift getting approved is built into the 2023 budget assumptions for maintaining the balances in 2023. If voters reject it, the city may see a $8 million budget deficit to grapple with for 2023’s budget.
A long-term forecast still shows an imbalance returns in 2024 even if voters approve the levy lid lift.
Last but not least, the budget earmarks $4.8 million in 2022 toward the city’s police and fire pension obligations. This is on top of an extra $2.2 million transferred into the pension fund from underspent money earmarked for jail fees.
These pension investments are to help put the city back on track to fully funding about $40 million in police and fire retiree pension obligations by a 2030 internal target. Meeting that goal requires earmarking about $5 million a year.
The 2022 budget does not incorporate the $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the city received. How to use those funds is still being mapped out.
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