The City Council Monday begins a department-by-department review of the Mayor’s proposed $51 million city budget, representing a 3.5 percent increase, for the coming year.
First up is a review of the Public Works Department. Reviews will continue with a public hearing set for Nov. 2.
The proposed budget adds about $1.7 million from the current adjusted year’s budget. Of that amount, slightly over $1 million covers the cost of salary and benefit increases, the majority of which are contractural obligations.
In her statement to the council, Mayor Gere said, “I have worked closely with staff to develop a budget with a high level of service to the community that operates within the parameters of Initiative 747, which limits annual property tax increases to 1 percent, or the Implicit Price Deflator (IPD), whichever is less.”
She said the proposed budget utilizes a 1 percent property tax increase in revenue projections, which will result in only $48,000 for the year. A resolution illustrating substantial need will need to be adopted by City Council to increase property taxes by the full 1 percent.”
The City adopts a complex and balanced budget each year to serve 16,380 residents, who expect a broad range of services, according to Mayor Gere’s budget message.
Year-to-date, building activity has outpaced 2014, and sales tax revenue has increased by 5 percent. This is the city’s third consecutive year of revenue growth. The sales tax increases were primarily from vehicle sales, marine trades and hospitality businesses. Utility tax revenue has decreased due to reductions in consumption of natural gas and electricity. Revenues are projected to increase slightly in the coming year, reflecting continued strong sales tax, and a normalization of utility tax.
The Mayor proudly reports that Anacortes remains one of the lowest taxing cities in Skagit County with a 2015 general millage of $1.76 per $1000 of assessed value, generating a 2015 property tax levy of $4,642,472. Property taxes are the City’s single largest governmental revenue stream.
“My proposed budget retains healthy cash reserves, with over $8.5 million in the General Fund alone,” Gere said. Revenues have exceeded expenditures every year since 2009. The proposed budget uses General Fund reserves to complete one-time projects and deferred infrastructure improvements.