City releases preliminary 2015-2016 "Decisive, Responsive Government" Budget

City Council's “decisive, responsive” budget now available for purchase: $20

 

The Kirkland City Council has begun its process for the adoption of the 2015-2016 Biennial Budget built around the themes of “decisive, responsive government.”  The City Council will be holding public meetings and public hearings in the coming months to receive citizen input on the proposed levels of service and funding.  The preliminary Biennial Budget is available to view and download online at www.kirklandwa.gov/budgetdoc or can be purchased for $20.  Citizens are encouraged to learn what the preliminary budget proposes and give feedback.  Comments can be emailed to 15-16budget@kirklandwa.gov, given at public meetings and hearings or mailed to Kirkland City Hall, Finance Department, 123 Fifth Avenue, Kirkland, WA 98033.

 

Once again the budget advances progress on the Goals adopted by the City Council and responds to the results of the biennial community survey by funding key services identified by the citizens of Kirkland as most important.  The majority of the general fund is dedicated to police, fire and emergency medical services, which are consistently the top priorities in the community survey. Highlights include $3 million dollars to complete a new fire station in the north end of the city, over one million dollars for enhanced fire and emergency medical services in the Finn Hill and Juanita neighborhoods, as well as $160,000 to purchase two water rescue craft for open water rescues along Kirkland’s 10 miles of shoreline.  The budget also proposes a Customer Service Initiative which will improve how the City provides customer service, particularly at City Hall.

 

“The preliminary budget is balanced and financially sound, with all basic government operations funded with on-going, predictable revenues significant contributions made to our reserves,” notes Kirkland City Manager Kurt Triplett. “These actions are designed to retain Kirkland’s AAA credit rating and keep Kirkland’s Price of Government just over three percent, well below the five to six percent typical of local governments.”

 

The balanced two-year budget also recognizes the need to be prepared for events that will impact the City in the future, such as the loss of revenue from the sunset of the State Annexation Sales Tax Credit in 2021.  

  

The Budget Message is formulated around two themes: “Stay Steady” and “Get Ready.”  “Stay Steady” refers to the conservative revenue projections to hedge against economic uncertainty and prepare for the expiration of the Annexation Sales Tax Credit.  Substantial contributions are made to reserves and public safety sinking funds and only a limited number of new positions are proposed in the general fund.  In addition, the City is proposing a high-deductible, consumer-driven health care program for its employees (Healthy Kirkland Plan), both to promote employee health and control cost growth.  “Get Ready” reflects that the budget further increases quality of life investments as part of the City’s economic development strategy, including the Walkable Kirkland Initiative, which adds an addition $2.4 million dollars over the next 3 budgets to accelerate efforts related to pedestrian and bicycle safety and school walk routes.  In addition, the budget proposes substantial infrastructure investments in parks, roads, sidewalks, surface water, solid waste, and water and sewer systems and sets aside significant amounts of Real Estate Excise Tax, impact fees and sales tax revenue to help fund Kirkland 2035 plans after they are completed in 2015. 

 

The City Council will be holding a Budget Work Session on October 30, 2014 from 3 to 9 p.m. to begin its in depth review of the proposed Budget.  Citizens can address the Council at its November 3 and 18 Public Hearings to be held at City Hall or submit comments via e-mail at 15-16budget@kirklandwa.gov.  The Budget is scheduled for adoption at the December 9 Council meeting.  City Council meetings are broadcast live and rebroadcast on Comcast Channel 21 and Frontier Channel 31 and can be streamed live or viewed later at www.kirklandwa.gov (Search On-Demand). 

 

The Budget is developed around the City Councils adopted Goals of Balanced Transportation, Dependable Infrastructure, Economic Development, Human Services, Housing, Neighborhoods, Parks and Recreation, Public Safety, Financial Stability, and Environment.