Mountlake Terrace tightening budget belt due to lower revenues

City-of-MLT-logoDue to lower than anticipated revenues, the City of Mountlake Terrace is tightening its financial belt.

During last week’s first quarter financial report, Finance Director Sonja Springer noted that General Fund operating revenues were about $300,000 down from last year due to lower than projected gambling tax revenues and development service fees. Operating revenues totaled 23 percent of the General Fund budget and operating expenditures totaled 25 percent of the General Fund budget. As a result, cost control measures are being implemented.

City Manager Arlene Fisher told the City Council that some vacant positions won’t be filled and the City also will not be purchasing any new vehicles in 2015.

Since March, Fisher and Springer have been working on cost control measures. Fisher directed the City’s department heads to review their budgets.

“I have had all department heads go back and evaluate their general fund dollars to return to the City 10 percent of their budget,” Fisher said. “Right now, I think we’re putting measures in place.”

Gambling tax revenues were under budget due to the closing of the Palace Casino in 2014 and lower revenues from the City’s other two casinos, Springer said. Gambling tax revenues totaled $219,326 for the quarter or only 18 percent of the $1,2 million annual budget.

Development service fees were $144,036 or 17 percent of the budget of $850,450. The City is expecting increased developmental activities will generate additional revenues this year, Springer said. Fines and forfeitures also were below budget.

Sales tax collections came in close to the forecasted amount. The total sales tax collected for the first quarter was just under $25,000 less than projected.

Due to the 40-day closure of the pool (pool liner replacement), the Recreation Fund ended the quarter with a 65 percent cost recovery, below the target of recovering 84 percent of the overall cost. The remaining 16 percent of the cost for recreation programs is funded by the General Fund. The Recreation Fund’s revenues were 19 percent of the budget.

The City’s other funds – Street Operations, Fleet Management, Utility (Storm Water, Sewer and Water), Real Estate Excise and Street Construction – were performing generally as expected.

– By David Pan

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