November 21, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 31

ML budget unchanged

Much of Medical Lake’s 2014 preliminary budget remains unchanged from this year.

Overall, the city has a $9,291,652 total budget for 2014, up from the projected $9,090,791 budget for 2013. The Current Expense fund is set to increase from $2,930,148 to $3,230,629 in 2014. Property and excise taxes are the largest sources of revenue for the general fund.

The City Council held a public hearing on the preliminary 2014 budget at its Tuesday, Nov. 19 meeting.

One noticeable decrease in the 2014 budget is the streets fund, which drops from $310,707 to $251,883. Also dropping is the water/sewer improvement fund, which drops from $1.02 million to $891,524.

Levels of service across the board will remain unchanged.

In the budget overview, it’s mentioned that revenues tend to be flat for the street fund, and are supplemented by a transfer of monies from the general fund. One of the suggestions includes setting a long-range plan to ensure adequate funding levels for street repairs exist.

Compared to last year, the city expects a $27,996 increase in property tax, stemming from a 1 percent increase and overall property value increases, and just under $4,000 in additional revenues from its Emergency Medical Services levy.

Local sales tax revenue is projected to drop by about $15,000, however, to $205,000.

Another area where revenue is set to jump is the intergovernmental revenue section of the Current Expense fund, which will increase by just under $60,000, largely caused by an increase in the City Assistance Program and Liquor Board profits. Those board profits went up from $19,877 to $45,000 in the projected budget for next year.

Water/sewer fund revenues are reported as being stable, and are sufficient enough to cover those operating costs, which are expected to come in around $3.4 million, up around $200,000 from the previous year.

The city currently employs 20 full-time personnel and contracts out for police, planning, legal and animal control services. The Medical Lake Fire Department consists of volunteers, but the city does offer “premium pay” for select work hours to enhance shift coverage. There are currently 27 volunteers in the force, which includes five officers.

The budget lists goals for the Planning Department, which the city contracts out, including reviewing the city’s development regulations and expanding the duties of the hearing examiner in 2014.

The City Council will hold further public hearings and ordinance readings regarding the budget throughout December, moving toward finalization of the budget by the end of the year.

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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