Renton Mayor Denis Law delivered his 2013-2014 proposed budget to the Renton City Council at a special presentation during the City Council meeting on Monday, October 15, 2012.
“We have addressed the economic challenges to our city and I believe we’re on a course to recovery, said Mayor Denis Law. “Because of our strategic investments in economic development, our commitment to reforms and the fiscal disciplines we have put into place, the city’s financial situation is stable. We’re beginning to see improvement.”
The total proposed two-year budget for 2013 and 2014 is $457 million, of which $202 million is the General Government fund that is used for police, fire and emergency services, parks, street repair, and other basics required to run a city.
Preliminary budget projections estimated a $5 million per year shortfall of revenues against the rising costs of doing business. In order to balance the budget the Mayor’s proposal includes a three-pronged approach to bring the city’s expenditures in line with the revenue projections through the next biennium.
- Reduction of operating costs through staffing reductions: The budget proposes reducing the city’s workforce by 25 positions, most of them achieved through attrition.
- Cost-saving reforms to reduce the city’s medical premium costs.
- Revenue options including fee adjustments for the business license fee, impact fees for new development (phased in after 2014), and a medical transport fee to be charged to insurance companies.
Law acknowledged the work and contribution of the Community Budget Advisory Group, a group of local residents, business owners and community leaders who met over several weeks to provide valuable input and helped shape the city’s budget.
“This budget reflects several key priorities and suggestions for cost savings recommended by the advisory group this year,” said Law. “I want to thank each one of the advisors for all the effort they put into assisting us during this budget process.”
Law also emphasized the positive news and strong economic indicators in Renton, including:
- Growth in businesses and increase in jobs – 200 new firms have located to Renton during the past year and 6,000 new jobs have been added over the past two years.
- Commercial vacancy rates remain significantly lower than in other cities in the Puget Sound region.
- The Landing continues to add new businesses every month and sales for the businesses at The Landing are up 15% over last year.
- The city continues to see an increase in housing sales and currently has 380 permit requests for new single-family homes.
- The Boeing Company’s announcement to build the 737 MAX in Renton and the increased production of the 737 Next Generation has resulted in over 1,000 new jobs in Renton and hundreds of future jobs expected.
Mayor Law also highlighted some of the city’s accomplishments:
- Major investments in infrastructure including the $42 million Rainier Avenue improvements project and the SW 27th Street/Strander Boulevard connection. The Sunset Area Community Investment and the recent opening of the Glenwood Townhomes.
- Crime rate as measured by crimes per thousand has decreased by double digits over the last three years. The city continues to find creative ways to reduce criminal activity and to make people feel safe.
- Record attendance at the Farmers Market and at festivals and events; Seahawks training camp brought 22,000 visitors to Renton. World class parks, trails, facilities, and golf course; recreational programs that offer something for everyone.
- Special programs dedicated to those with unique needs such as the summer lunch program and the Housing Repair Assistance Program.
- Strong Neighborhood Program serving 72 neighborhoods and 5,300 people who attended events and picnics. This budget has set aside $73,000 in grant funds for neighborhoods.
The Mayor mentioned the upcoming annexation vote in West Hill and stated that if the residents vote to annex to Renton, the city would work closely with King County and state representatives to find solutions to the current financial gap. This budget does not include revenues and expenditures for West Hill.
Law highlighted the importance of partnerships and how they help enhance the quality of services. He gave examples of a project where the city is partnering with the Renton School District, Renton Housing Authority, Renton Rotary, Lions Club, and other service organizations to build an inclusive children’s playground. He also discussed a unique partnership between the city’s Carco Theatre and Puget Sound Access, a local non-profit organization specializing in multi-media services, to expand the services at Carco Theatre.
“This budget reflects a lot of collaboration and partnership with our community,allowing us to enhance public amenities despite budget constraints,” said Law.
The Committee of the Whole will meet at 5 p.m. on Monday, October 22 in the Conferencing Center on the seventh floor of City Hall to begin budget deliberations.
*Editor's Note: Information provided by the City of Renton.