The City of Mill Creek’s public safety costs are projected to increase substantially over the next two years according to the City of Mill Creek’s Finance Director, Landy Manuel.
- At the May 12th City Council Retreat Manuel projected Mill Creek’s 2013-2014 biennial police expenses will increase $1.4 million over the 2011-2012 expenditures. Mayor Mike Todd believes the increases are due to staffing of previously unfilled positions, and future police guild contract increases.
- Manuel reported at the May 22nd City Council Meeting that the cost of fire and emergency medical services provided by Snohomish County Fire District 7 will increase $260,000 in 2013 and $660,000 in 2014 over the amount spent in 2012.
Together, the 2013-2014 police, fire, and emergency medical services costs are projected to be at least $2.3 million over the amount spent in 2011-2012. These increases contribute significantly to the Mill Creek’s projected $1.7 million budget deficit for the 2013-2014 biennium.
During the May 12th City Council Retreat, a majority of the Mill Creek City Council directed City staff to work on a 2013-2014 budget which reduces the deficit by some structural changes and some temporary fixes as follows:
- Cut expenses in the general fund by $500,000. This structural budget change will likely include staffing reductions, a longer time between vehicle and equipment replacements, and other operational cuts. Acting City Manager, Tom Gathmann, explained that staff cuts would likely result in service cuts.
- Increase revenues by $300,000 by a combination of property tax increases and/or by drawing down general fund reserves. A 3% property tax increase is a structural change that would result in the full $300,000 deficit decrease. Any reduction in general fund reserves is only a temporary fix.
- Increase revenues by $300,000 by setting up a new 0.1% public safety sales and use tax, which would have to be approved by a majority of voters in the upcoming election. County Executive Aaron Reardon has proposed a similar sales and use tax countywide, but since the Snohomish County Council may oppose this move; it may be necessary for the City to place the measure on the ballot. If voters approve this option, it would be a structural budget change.
- Use $600,000 from REET (Real Estate Excise Tax) to fund the Park Maintenance Budget. Recent legislation permits use of REET for this purpose through December 31, 2016. This is not a structural change, because the revenue is normally budgeted to fund Mill Creek’s capital projects.
The 0.1% public safety sales and use tax will be discussed in the June 12th City Council meeting.