By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
The Snohomish County Council adopted a 2020 operating budget on Tuesday, November 12, 2019. This historic budget is the first to top the $1 billion mark.
The budget was balanced without a general property tax increase, but property owners in unincorporated parts of the county will see a 1% increase in their road property tax to pay for needed transportation projects.
Council Chair Terry Ryan stated, “We passed a fiscally responsible budget for 2020 without a property tax increase for the general fund.”
He added, “Our budget includes $430,000 of funding to implement the Prosecuting Attorney’s ‘Justice Initiative,’ which will make our streets safer for everyone.”
Full funding of the “Justice Initiative” reverses a two-gram felony drug threshold and pays for a new deputy prosecutor, a new law clerk, and a public defender to handle the increased case load.
“I am pleased by many aspects of this budget and proud that my amendment focused on streamlining service responses to the public was included,” said Councilmember Stephanie Wright.
She went on to say, “However, I could not support the 2020 budget because I don’t think it went far enough towards providing the public safety programs and front-line Sheriff deputies that the citizens of Snohomish County have been requesting.”
“Once again, I am proud to have supported a budget that does not raise the County’s general property tax levy,” added Council Vice-Chair Nate Nehring. “This recent election says loud and clear that voters are facing tax fatigue and we must be responsive to that.”
The adopted budget also adds $1.6 million to the county’s rainy day fund to hedge against a possible economic downturn.