Edmonds Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By Diane Buckshnis
City Councilmember 

Councilmember: Revisiting budget is 'good governance' | Guest View

 

Last updated 2/3/2022 at 7:45am



Thank you to The Beacon for asking me to respond to Mayor Nelson’s press release on Jan. 28.

There’s no point in debating the hyperbole and fear-mongering Mayor Nelson chose to dispel in his statement.

Edmonds’ citizens can rest assured that this council has no intention of negatively impacting public safety, the environment, or keeping the public uninformed.

Most of the amendments to be presented were not deliberated during the prior expedited budget process. This upcoming amendment process will allow for citizen input that was not previously permitted, since the public hearing continuance limited public participation despite new information being put forth in the interim.

The discussion on these amendments also allows two councilmembers to participate who were unable to attend the final deliberations subsequent to the last-minute scheduling of the special budget meeting.

Revisiting this budget, my friends, is called good governance.

The one truthful point Mayor Nelson made in his statement was that we are fortunate that our local economy is strong with record revenues and stable City finances. Of course, Edmonds’ financial situation was bolstered due to federal and state funding to assist municipalities during the pandemic.

Still, if the City is so flush with monies, why did we need to dip into $2.1 million of unrestricted reserves? And, why was the policy to discuss this issue with the Council’s Finance Committee not followed?

The reserves are intended for emergencies, after all, and must be discussed in a Council inclusive process.

Costly items in the budget with no plan for how this money will be spent or if the amount is appropriate is included. Were these numbers guesstimates? Where is the data to support these millions of dollars of placeholders?

One example is the Perrinville Creek restoration funds intended to reopen the creek to migrating salmon. To date, there has been no restoration solutions offered in over one year since the creek connection to the Salish Sea was cut off due to flooding, despite promises made by the administration.

So, what was the basis of this funding amount?

The bottom line is that council is responsible for safeguarding citizens’ money, and that is the intent of the proposed budget amendment deliberations.

Importantly, budget amendments occur quarterly. So if we are able to protect our reserves by paring down the budget and integrating large costly organizational restructures, we can easily add appropriations back in as we better understand the needs and gain more insight regarding 2022 revenues.

Our revenues are reported on a monthly basis. And our economy still faces uncertainty associated with increased inflations, supply chain disruptions, climate change disruptions, labor shortages and an ongoing pandemic.

In closing, I take my fiduciary responsibility seriously, and have worked through 12 budget cycles with four administrations.

Citizens should understand that last year’s budget process was completely atypical, and we have never dipped into unrestricted reserves during the budget process.

This additional amendment process is intended to make it somewhat more typical, allowing all councilmembers and citizens to participate in an open and transparent way.

 

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