Issaquah property owners will see a 1 percent increase in their taxes in 2014 and no increase in water or sewer rates if a budget prepared by Mayor Ava Frisinger is approved by the City Council. The tax increase would amount to a little over a penny per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Frisinger’s 2014 budget was presented to the council at its Oct. 7 regular meeting.
The proposed budget includes $1.3 million for enhancing habitat along stream banks. An additional $350,000 has been budgeted for other habitat restoration projects in the city that include removing invasive plants, reintroducing native vegetation and restoring flood-damaged areas.
In response to continuing human services needs, the budget proposes an increase from $8.50 to $9 per capita for human service agencies which include the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank and senior services. The increase will raise $288,000. Frisinger also has added funding for a Human and Social Sustainability Manager beginning in July 2014.
A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH) will receive $50,000 for its trust fund, to be used for low and moderate-priced housing.
To streamline the city’s operations, $600,000 will be invested in upgrading the financial accounting system over the next to years.
And in an effort to hold down employee cost, in 2013 the city approved self-funding medical plans. It will be emphasizing employee wellness and increasing education programs on healthcare in 2014.
As was the case last year, one more police officer will be added to the Issaquah Police Department. The total 2014 city staff will be 258.4 positions, with police making up the bulk of staff at 63.5 percent. There doesn’t appear to be any big changes in staffing for other departments.
Among the council goals identified in an earlier workshop is conducting a feasibility study of the city campus, to consolidate all city offices to a central location. Specific funding of $55,000 will be dedicated to the study. This would improve efficiencies between departments and customers Frisinger said.
The city also plans to continue to look at options for a future I-90 over crossing which is important to the implementation of the Central Issaquah plan. Implementing a tourism business plan, developing a professional marketing plan to attract new businesses and creating a green infrastructure plan are a few of the other goals identified in the budget, at a cost of $90,000.
The beginning general fund balance for the fiscal year is $7,972,281 with an ending fund balance of $7,549,341. Estimated ending fund balance for all funds is $40,029,408 as compared to 2013 which was $30,364,853.
Public hearings will be held in November and December, with the council expected to approve the budget in December.