City council approves mid-biennial budget modifications

Finance Director Crystil Wooldridge (bottom-right), briefs the Mountlake Terrace City Council on an overview of mid-biennial budget modifications during its regular business meeting Monday night.

The Mountlake Terrace City Council unanimously approved the adoption of 2021-2022 mid-biennial budget modifications during its Dec. 20 regular business meeting.

“What this budget amendment will achieve is it will meet the council’s goal of protecting and enhancing the financial position and stability while maintaining appropriate and essential public services,” Finance Director Crystil Wooldridge said. “It also reviews, prioritizes and implements capital infrastructure projects to improve development of a strategy to address the city’s aging infrastructure.”

Washington law requires that biennial budgets be reviewed during the first year of their implementation.

Wooldridge noted, “The budget before council is balanced.” Amendments included the addition of approximately $5.8 million in revenues, half of which are received in each year of the current biennial budget, due to money the city is eligible to receive under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Those funds will need to be obligated by the end of 2024 and then spent before the conclusion of 2026.

Modifications were made to some revenues and projections in order to accurately reflect the current economic situation. Besides ARPA money, there were also some additional revenue sources, such as grants the city was awarded this year, that had not previously been included in the 2021-2022 budget.

Changes made to the general fund in the 2021 budget included an increase of more than $2.9 million in revenues, primarily from ARPA funds. However, the city also experienced revenue reductions for gambling and admission taxes due to closures during the pandemic, along with a continued decrease in tax revenues collected for telephone/cable utility installations.

An increase of $647,679 in expenditures was needed to cover a variety of costs including a transfer of $300,000 to the recreation fund because of decreased revenues during the pandemic, and $230,000 for the extended leasing of interim city hall due to delays at the Civic Campus project and for five staffing positions that were either reinstated or added to city payrolls.

Modifications to the general fund in the 2022 budget include a revenue increase of more than $2.8 million from ARPA funds the city will receive, and an additional $726,070 in expenditures to pay for staffing.

Budgetary adjustments to capital projects were made to reflect projects approved by the city council that had not previously been included in the biennial budget and to account for projects that were budgeted in prior years and carried over into 2021-2022.

This year’s budget amendments to the capital improvement fund included increases of approximately $3.7 million in revenues and $4.9 million in expenditures due primarily to added grant and capital contribution revenues and the associated capital projects. Among them were the implementation of online community and economic development permitting software, the Ballinger Park waterfront project, the Civic Campus project, work to help develop the Recreation, Parks and Open Space (RPOS) Master Plan, and completion of the Evergreen Playfield #1 turf project.

Changes made to the capital improvement fund in the 2022 budget include an increase of more than $2.6 million in revenues and $3.8 million in expenditures, again primarily because of grant and capital contribution revenues and the associated capital projects.

In other business, City Manager Scott Hugill told the council that the Verdant Health Commission announced it will continue to provide funding for a social worker who works alongside local police. Compass Health partnered with the cities of Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace earlier this year to implement its community transitions program that embeds a mental health professional with the Lynnwood Police Department’s Community Health and Safety Section.

The grant program aims to reduce the high-frequency use of emergency services in both cities when responding to community members at risk by steering them toward resources most appropriate to their needs. The partnership, with funding from Verdant, helps address the gap in services for people who are not necessarily in crisis, but need additional support including access to mental health and substance use treatments, shelter assistance, food vouchers, hygiene sites and more.

“In addition, they are going to be funding next year a full-time social worker position that focuses on crisis response,” Hugill added. “So when we have higher intensity interactions with individuals this will be someone that we can call to help go through that process with that individual going through that crisis.”

The City of Mountlake Terrace received a refund from the Association of Washington Cities as part of its workers’ compensation retrospective rating program. “This is in recognition of the city’s work on workers’ compensation and reducing injury – in particular injury that results in workers being off of work because of that injury,” Hugill said. “We’ve been able to recoup $48,000 because of a higher safety rating than our average” in previous years.

Also, the city continues to seek input from residents, businesses and organizations about possible uses for its share of ARPA funds that can best help the community. Participants are asked to rank five categories of approved uses for the funds by their order of preference. Hugill reported that public health and safety has so far received the highest ranking among completed surveys. The brief online survey is available until Jan. 2, 2022 and can be viewed here.

Items unanimously approved on Monday night’s consent calendar include:

– Appointing Molly Luna to fill an interim vacancy on the Mountlake Terrace Recreation and Parks Advisory Commission (RPAC) for the remainder of that position’s term, which expires on June 30, 2023. The vacancy was created in November after a commissioner resigned.

– Approving two professional services contracts for 2022 with lobbying firms. The Johnston Group will be paid $56,700 to provide the city with federal lobbying services and Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs will receive $48,000 for such work at the state level.

– Cancellation of the city council’s Dec. 30 work/study session. Staff recommended it be canceled as city offices will be closed on the following day in recognition of the federal holiday for Jan. 1, which falls on a Saturday next year. As a result, the council’s next scheduled meeting will be on Jan 3, 2022 at 7 p.m.

— By Nathan Blackwell

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