City finances in the black despite decreased revenue

At Monday’s city council meeting, City Manager John Caulifield discussed the city’s financial situation at the end of 2009 and looked to the future.

When some cities, like Edmonds, are facing a multi-million dollar budget deficite, the city of Mountlake Terrace has been able to decrease spending in order to stay in the black.

City of Mountlake Terrace general fund revenue’s have decreased $1.1 million or 7.1% since 2006. General fund revenue’s pay for basic city services such as police, jail, court, fire, EMS, streets, parks, recreation, land use, and development services.

The one source of income that has had the largest impact is the taxes the city receives from the several casinos in our city. Gambling taxes make up approximately 10% of the general fund and around 8% of the City’s total operating budget. In late 2008, the Silver Dollar casino in Mountlake Terrace closed. Of the $1.1 million decrease in revenue’s, over half (around $650,000) is from the decrease in gambling tax revenue. This is of special concern to the City as many of our basic city services are dependent on gambling tax. City Manager said that the City needs to look for other sources of revenue because of the uncertainty of gambling tax as a revenue source.

The City of Mountlake Terrace has become well accustomed to delivering much more for less, indeed, we have, thus far, more than adequately responded to this challenge. Our City has cultivated a new culture of strategic leadership that no longer subscribes to the old saying, ‘That’s the way we always did it,” rather we’ve become more efficient in our spending practices delivering efficiency savings on a regular basis to ensure we live within our means.

We will continue with these steps along with others we implemented in mid-2008 to mitigate the impact of the recession to ensure we meet our key operational and financial objectives in 2010 and beyond just as we did in 2008 and 2009. These steps will continue indefinitely to ensure services to our residents will not have to be reduced.

The result of this is during some of the most difficult years in recent memory, the City of Mountlake Terrace is in an enviable position of being to maintain basic municipal services as long as we continue to practice prudent financial such as having a balanced budget, staying the course with our six-year financial forecast and a continued focus to live within our means as outlined in the preventative measures we have put in place. John CaulfieldCity Manager

  1. The figures showing a decrease in casino tax revenue isn’t necessarily bad news. Gambling is a detriment to society, and no city, state or taxing district should be promoting it or relying on it for income. The only reason to tax gambling is to discourage it. As for Mountlake Terrace, it’s too bad the city council lowered the gambling tax rate by 50% a couple years ago; that was done specificly to help Silver Dollar stay open (it closed anyway). The city’s only two casinos are the Red Dragon and the Crazy Moose, and they may be more trouble than they are worth. Just check the police log for 911 responses from the Crazy Moose. In the next couple years the city will hopefully be able to replace the revenue from the gambling tax with revenue generated from new development in the city center.

  2. I really like our City leadership cutting spending, rather than raising taxes. This will attract and benefit businesses & hopefully will generate new sources of income. Wish our State & Federal government would follow our lead! Living within our means is the way we should all function!

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