The Everett City Council began the work of reviewing Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s proposed $182.9 million fiscal year 2015 budget for operations, enterprise funds and “other expenses”, as described by City Auditor Richard Viscay on Monday night, with the opening and closing of a public hearing on the budget for the purpose of obtaining public comment.
However, no members of the public attended or sought to make comment.
The majority of the hearing was dedicated to a presentation of the FY 2015 budget by Viscay, who explained to Councilors the key factors influencing the budget development, the city’s taxing capacity and other revenues and expenses, before taking questions.
Viscay told the Council that the $182.9 million budget actually included just $154, 448,765 for operating expenses for city government and the schools, another $15,261,675 for enterprise operations in the water and sewer departments and approximately $13.2 million in other expenses such as the snow and ice deficit, overlay account and “other amounts” or unforeseen expenses that typically occur during the fiscal year.
According to Viscay, the city’s tax levy limit – the amount of taxes that the city is allowed to raise through real estate taxes – in the current 2014 fiscal year was $90,385,762. When considering the city’s potential to raise the levy limit by 2.5-percent for the coming fiscal year 2015 and the estimation of possible new growth of $1,000,000 in FY 2015, Viscay explained that the city has the ability to raise up to $93,645,406 in taxes for the purposes of delivering a balanced budget.
However, for the proposed FY 2015 budget, the Mayor is proposing to raise $90,024,248 through the tax levy, leaving an excess capacity of $3,621,158 the city could choose to levy if needed to balance the budget.
Viscay also said that the FY 2015 tax levy could be reduced even further this coming fall, depending on an adjustment by the state to new growth estimates, increases or decreases in local receipts and other financing sources such as free cash and parking receipts.
The other revenue sources described in the budget include local receipts, which includes all fees and funds raised by doing business with the city of Everett – such as dog licenses, building permits, marriage licenses, and fines – and state aid.
Viscay explained that the city is estimating local receipts at $7,102,000 for the coming fiscal year, a decrease of $263,199 in local receipts from the current year, based on the fact that some of those receipts are non-recurring and cannot be expected to be collected again in the coming year.
Finally, the city is anticipating $68.1 million in state aid, which represents an increase of $5.8 to the city over the amount of state aid received in the current year. However, Viscay noted that the majority of that increase was ear-marked for the school department, through the state’s Chapter 70 funding for education, with Chapter 70 funding increasing from $55 million in FY 2014 to $60.6 million in FY 2015.
Following the presentation of the budget, and with no comments from the public, the City Council closed the public hearing and proceeded to conduct department level reviews of budget through its Ways and Means Committee.