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Kent City Council approves 2011 budget

The Kent City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday to adopt the 2011 budget.

Council members Debbie Raplee, Les Thomas, Elizabeth Albertson, Dennis Higgins and Ron Harmon voted in favor of the spending plan. Council President Jamie Perry and Deborah Ranniger voted against the budget. Perry stated earlier this month that she wanted to spend less and put more money into a reserve fund.

The 2011 Operating Budget totals $146 million. Of that, $62 million represents the General Fund budget, $16.8 million in the Capital fund, and $12.8 million applies to the annexation area. The rest of the budget is dedicated to other funds such as drainage water and sewer utilities.

The largest component of the City’s Operating Budget, the General Fund, provides funding for basic services including police, corrections, courts, street and park maintenance, community services, economic and community development, and internal support services. All of these services are provided by city employees, making the City’s largest expense wages and benefits. General Fund revenues come from taxes (sales, property and utility) and fees.

The budget includes 17 new hires, with 11 of the positions to help serve the Panther Lake area, which annexed to the city in July.

Kent's cuts of $7 million last spring put the city budget in much better shape than King County and surrounding cities that had to cut budgets. Kent also has saved roughly $4 million in costs next year because it no longer fully funds the Kent Fire Department, now part of a regional fire authority with King County Fire District 37 and Covington.

The state also helps the city pay for annexation costs with state annexation funds returned to the city through a sales-tax rebate on purchases in Kent. That's worth about $4 million per year to the city.

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