KHQ.COM - Spokane
Mayor David Condon today is releasing his initial draft of the City of Spokane
"I have delivered on our promise to provide a ‘no-growth' General Fund budget for 2013, while preserving the City's most critical services," says Mayor Condon. "Throughout our budget proposal, we have a clear theme of affordability, accountability, and alignment."
The Mayor's initial budget proposal holds expenses at the 2012 level and overcomes a projected shortfall of nearly $10 million. The proposal doesn't use reserves to balance the City's operating budget and begins the process of separating out capital expenses from operations.
Addressing affordability, the proposal:
1. Forgoes the expected annual property tax increase.
Limits utility rate increases. This proposal includes 3.5 percent increases in utility rates. The typical household will pay about $3.60 more per month, compared to the $12 a month increase that the City projected previously for 2013.
Addressing accountability, the proposal includes:
1. A brand-new format that focuses on the cost of providing each service and program.
2. A visual, statistical "dashboard" for each department and division that compares growth in costs with median household income.
3. Performance measure information for most departments for the first time. These measures are designed to help citizens determine the success of City services and programs.
Addressing alignment, the proposal:
1. Eliminates 100 positions, including about 65 that are vacant.
2. Includes reorganizations to gain efficiencies and reduce duplication. Some positions and programs will be moved to new partners outside of the City.
3. Spreads position reductions across all levels of the organization, including management ranks.
As the budget stands today, the City would not lay off any police officers or firefighters. The Mayor believes it is vital to keep all current police officers, in particular, to avoid any further erosion of services.
However, vacant positions within both of the large public safety departments are being eliminated. The City has open contracts with the Police Guild and the Local 29; final outcome on those contracts could lead to changes in the budget proposal.
"Service to the citizens is fundamental, and this document ultimately sets our work plan and priorities for the coming year," Mayor Condon says. "We are releasing this initial budget proposal early in a brand-new way. We're focusing on the cost of providing each program and service and offering information on how to track our success."
The administration will provide briefings on various aspects of the budget to the City Council throughout August and into the fall on Thursday afternoons.
The Mayor's formal line-item budget proposal will be presented on Oct. 8, earlier than the statutorily required submittal date of Nov. 1. The Council will hold public hearings on the budget before its adoption.