City Council continues budget debate

Mark Maughan

Mark Maughan

The Kent City Council continues to disagree on the proposed 2009 city budget as well as on when to increase water rates and storm-drainage rates for residents as part of that budget.

The Operations Committee, comprised of Council members Tim Clark, Debbie Raplee and Les Thomas, voted 2-1 Nov. 18 to recommend adoption of the 2009 budget when the full Council meets Dec. 9.

Raplee and Thomas voted in favor of the proposed $166 million budget. Clark, chairman of the Operations Committee, opposed it.

The committee also voted 2-1, with Clark opposed, to recommend to the full Council an increase in water rates and storm-drainage rates starting April 1, 2009.

“I think it’s balanced and fair and I’m confident we’ll manage the budget,” Raplee said at the committee meeting. “We’ll get monthly updates (on city revenues), so we’ll know. I’m very comfortable we’ll be OK. If we have to make adjustments, we will.”

Clark disagreed with city staff predictions that sales-tax revenue will be flat in 2009. Clark said he expects sales-tax revenue to drop. That would leave the city with even less revenue.

“The part that’s hard for me is we’re saying to staff to gut it out and we’ll get through this,” Clark said. “I don’t believe that. My background tells me we’ll have a structural deficit if things do not come out how we like and we will be out of reserves for 2010. To hope things get better is not a good plan.”

Pierce County officials predict revenue drops of 7 percent, Clark said. A Seattle City Council member told Clark the city of Seattle expects revenue drops through 2010.

“Our budget says there will not be cuts,” Clark said. “But nine months from now when we say we didn’t think it would be this bad, I say you can predict that.”

John Hodgson, city chief administrative officer, told the committee that no layoffs are part of the budget. The city continues to hold open 15 to 25 positions. Hodgson expects the delay in hiring to fill open positions to save the city as much as $1.2 million.

The committee also considered proposed increases in utility rates.

Clark argued that the rate increases should begin Jan. 1, 2009 to help make sure the city can get started on projects to improve the water and storm-drainage systems.

Several Council members directed city staff to delay the utility-rate increases until next April because of the bad economy, saving residents from paying the new rates at the start of the year.

“By April 1, we hope the economy is better because it is an impact to residents,” Raplee said. “It’s also an impact to the city, but we can still get the work done.”

Basic water rates are slated to jump 15 percent per year over the next six years. That will cost a customer about $14 per year for in the first year of the water-rate increase. The storm-drainage rates will jump about $25 next year for the average customer, with an April 1 increase.

City staff recommended the water-rate increase to help the city pay for the operation, maintenance, replacement and expansion of the water system as required by federal and state regulations for fire codes and health standards. The expansion of the system also would enable the city to potentially sell excess water to neighboring jurisdictions.

The Council will consider the proposed utility-rate increases Dec. 9.

Residents will be able to testify about the budget at 7 p.m. Dec. 9 before the Council votes to adopt the budget.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

t
Kent Police use drone, K-9 unit to capture assault suspect

Man had fled after fight with security guard at apartment complex along SE Kent-Kangley Road

Jail bars. File photo
Renton man convicted in 2018 Des Moines homicide

Jurors found 28-year-old Yourhighness Jeramiah Bolar of Renton guilty of two felony charges.

t
One of two victims identified in fiery Kent crash

Kristen Anne Meyers, 53, died in May 11 crash on West Hill, according to medical examiner

t
City-owned ShoWare Center in Kent loses $742,675 in 2023

Losses lower than projected but expenses continue to exceed revenue at 6,200-seat arena

t
Kent firefighters extinguish two fires on the same morning | Photos

Friday, May 17 at apartment leasing office in the Valley and at a vacant East Hill house

Courtesy Photo, City of Kent
City of Kent population drops by 1,051 in 2023 compared to 2022

Decline similar to many cities of 50,000 or more across the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau

t
Kent Police Blotter: April 25 to May 8

Incidents include burglaries, robberies, shootings

t
Rape charges dismissed against former Kent school bus driver

Prosecutors decide they could not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt due to medical tests

t
Feds indict 9 South King County residents on drug trafficking charges

Those accused from Federal Way, Kent, Renton, Enumclaw

A screenshot of King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn speaking about a proposed amendment for the proposed $20 minimum wage ordinance. (Screenshot)
King County approves $20.29 minimum wage for unincorporated areas

Councilmember Reagan Dunn and more than a dozen business owners argued tips and health care expenses should be a part of the new wage. The council passed the ordinance without the amendment.

Dave Upthegrove. COURTESY PHOTO
Upthegrove one of seven candidates for state lands commissioner

His King County Council member’s district includes part of Kent

COURTESY PHOTO, King County Elections
Candidates file for Kent-area races for Congress, Legislature

Incumbents face challengers in two Congressional contests and four state House races