Cheney Free Press -


By James Eik
Staff Reporter 

First look at ML budget reveals few changes


The Medical Lake City Council heard the first reading of its preliminary 2013 budget at its Tuesday, Nov. 20 meeting.

The city is putting forward a $9 million budget, one that remains virtually unchanged from previous years but includes a decrease of 4.5 percent from 2012. Spending in the city’s general fund has decreased from $3.103 million in 2010 to the proposed $2.911 million for 2013. In his budget message included in City Council packets, Mayor John Higgins said the city approached the 2013 budget with the same caution exercised in recent years due to uncertainty with state and federal economies.

“[The budget] really didn’t change from last year,” City Administrator Doug Ross said.

A spending freeze, excluding essential items, is in effect until the end of the year, and may extend into the early weeks of 2013.

It’s projected that Medical Lake will spend $34,719 more than it will receive in revenue, taking some money from its fund balance to work out issues. The fund balance is planned to end at $640,000.

City staffing levels with 20 full-time employees will remain unchanged, although an agreement between Medical Lake and the Local 270 union expires at the end of next year.

Flat growth and revenues, as Higgins said in his budget message, continue to plague the budget as demands for services outpaces their growth.

“The takeaway is that we just don’t produce any revenues here,” Ross said. “We’ll keep a sharp eye on it.”

The overall revenues received by the city have gone up each year, but at a pace that doesn’t match expenditures. In 2010, the city received $2.057 million in revenues, and is projected to receive $2.198 million next year.

Voters approved a six-year Emergency Medical Services levy in the November election, and the City Council approved a 1-percent property tax levy increase at last Tuesday’s meeting.

Also discussed during the budget public hearing was road construction for next year. Ross said the Department of Transportation will perform some chip sealing on SR 902 along Lake Street, largely on the hill leading up to the city from Silver Lake.

The City Council approved an amendment to its contract with Cingular Wireless for its water tower cell site. An additional two antennas and other equipment will be installed on the tower, resulting in a $250 monthly fee increase.

Ross announced that city planner Glenn Scholten, hired on contract for Medical Lake, would retire at the end of the year. He said the city would likely continue with hiring a planner when issues arise, with some of the duties taken on by staff in the interim.

“My guess is we’ll go about it as needed,” Ross said.

Boy Scout Johnny Dyson was in attendance and led the Pledge of Allegiance to start the meeting.

James Eik can be reached at


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