MLT council begins its dive into 2023-2024 biennial budget; more meetings this week

Assistant City Manager Stephen Clifton presents the proposed 2023-2024 biennial budget to the city council Monday night.

Starting this week, the Mountlake Terrace City Council begins considering the city’s proposed biennial budget for 2023 and 2024. The process began Monday night with Assistant City Manager Stephen Clifton delivering his budget presentation to the council.

“Overall, the financial picture for 2023 and 2024 is steady, and our administration has delivered a budget which is relatively stable through 2027,” Clifton said. The proposed budget includes using approximately $500,000 of the city’s $5.4 million remaining federal ARPA allocation, along with adding “a few necessary poisions or programs or projects” using general fund dollars, Clifton added.

“The proposed biennial budget reflects our continued drive to support a relatively high quality of life available here while also recognizing that global, national and regional conditions may significantly impact some of our revenue sources,” Clifton said. “Because of this uncertainty and inflationary factors, the proposed budget is limited in its growth while maintaining core responsibilities and council goals.”

Clifton also noted that the proposed budget “continues the path started in 2016, to ensure the council is making the community’s vision happen, rather than waiting for it to happen.”

The public will have a chance to learn more details of the various department budget proposals during two meetings this week — at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9 and 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10. There will also be two public hearings — one at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21 on 2023 revenue sources, including property taxes, and the other at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, when the council is also scheduled to adopt the proposed 2023-2024 budget. Depending on council deliberations, that approval could occur at a future meeting in December. Under state law, the budget must be adopted by Dec. 31.

What follows is a chart summarizing the department proposals:

City Council and Manager 2023 2024 Fund

Contracting with consultant to assist the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission with its work plan, events and meetings.




Funding for an IT strategic plan and structural evaluation consultant



Creation of a communications manager
(The city currently has a communications specialist; this position would not be funded.)



General Fund (GF)


E-Bike package (bikes, rack, training, uniforms, maintenance)




New community services officer (This would be created by combining two part-time cadet positions into one.)




Human Resources

2023 2024 Fund

Consultant for a salary survey



Parks and Recreation




City matching funds for the Child Care Stabilization Grant and Workforce Grant, (This would be used for recruitment and retention for existing child care staffing expenses.)



Add a special event coordinator position. This position would assist with communications, planning, coordinating and implementing city/community events. It would also work with the new communications manager position. Clifton said this job, funded for two years with ARPA money, would allow the city to rebuild community events impacted by the COVID pandemic and also oversee volunteer recruitment.





Dedicated scholarship fund (ages 0-17) for camps & classes/ Currently limited to $50/quarter. Provide assistance to more families




Independence Day celebration




Toro 72″ Rotary Mower


011 – (GF)

Public Works




Camera Van with extension ability



Emergency Response trailer



30″ Asphalt Zipper


111 – $18,000 410 – $54,000 411 – $108,000

PW Shelf Stock



111 – $10,000 410 – $10,000 411 – $20,000 511 – $10,000

Diagnostic vehicle electronics scanner



New Maintenance Worker 1 positio



111 (GF)

Mechanic Overlap — For training purposes, the city proposes hiring a mechanic to work for one year alongside the shops mechanic, who is retiring





Total ARPA Funding



After his presentation, Clifton also noted the budget reflects “significant drivers” increasing costs for the city. Among them:

South County Fire charges

The city currently contracts with South County Fire for fire and emergency services. The estimated 2023 charge to Mountlake Terrace is $3,496,000, an increase of 17.2% – or $514,000 higher — than the 2022 charge

Costs for 2024 are forecast to be 4.5% higher, or $160,000, above 2023.

The city has also been notified it will receive a bill early next year for retroactive pay to firefighters –the result of contract negotiations — estimated at $216,000.

WCIA Insurance

The city contracts with the Washington Cities Insurance Authority (WCIA) for liability and property insurance.

The 2022 budgeted WCIA Rate was $560,321 but the city paid $618,957  — a 10.46% increase. The 2023 requested WCIA rates are $912,899  — a 47.49% increase above what the city paid in 2022.

The city will also need to make some general fund transfers to specific departments that need additional money, Clifton said. These include $450,000 for year 2023 and $200,000 for year 2024 to parks and recreation and $208,000 to streets in 2023 and $190,000 in 2024.

As a result of these cost pressures, staff is recommending council approval of a 1% increase in city property taxes as allowed by the Washington State Constitution.

Council will also be asked to consider a 3% cost-of-living adjustment for non- represented employees in 2023 and 2024, along with cost-of-living adjustments for employees represented by the Police Guild (4%) and Teamsters (3%).

In other business Monday night, the council:

– Approve a 10-year contract with Waste Management of Washington, Inc., which begins Nov. 8, 2022 and run through Nov. 8, 2032. The contract includes a first-year rate increase of 15% and a second-year rate increase of 7%.

A rate increase was requested because Waste Management said its current revenue doesn’t cover increasing costs, including labor, maintenance and fuel expenses, plus the increased cost of recycling. In addition, Waste Management has seen decreases in the market for recyclables, as China in particular has become more particular about the contamination of those items, forcing the company to look at other, more expensive alternatives.

You can learn more about the Waste Management contract in our previous coverage here.

– Set Nov. 17 as the date when the council will discuss whether Mountlake Terrace should join a newly formed coalition of mayors and business leaders who said they are committed to addressing ongoing community concerns about public safety in Snohomish County. Learn more about that here.

– Heard four-term Councilmember Doug McCardle announce he is resigning from the council effective Dec. 19. Read more here.

Andrew Neiditz

Newly hired interim City Manager Andrew Neiditz, whose first day on the job was Monday, also was present at Monday’s council meeting,

If you’re not able to attend this week’s budget meetings in person, remote options are available. You can receive more information about city council meetings and review meeting materials here. Meeting videos also are posted at

— By Teresa Wippel


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