Pike presents 2010 preliminary budget to City Council

The Bellingham Business Journal

Mayor Dan Pike presented the 2010 preliminary budget to the Bellingham City Council on Oct. 19, initiating the annual city budget deliberation process.

Pike said his proposed 2010 budget totals some $187 million, down significantly from the $216 million citywide spending plan Council approved a year ago for 2009. The proposed budget includes some $64 million general fund expenses, down from more than $72 million one year ago.

“City officials have made tough choices as we downsized the 2009 spending plan, and we face more in this proposed budget. The pain felt by those making these tough decisions is exceeded only by that of the employees’ whose livelihoods and lives have been profoundly impacted, and our constituents who have in various ways seen services diminish,” Pike said in a statement.

He said the 2010 preliminary budget:

  • Recommends taking the state-allowed 1 percent property tax increase, generating an estimated $180,000 in general fund revenue;
  • Recommends using $1.8 million of general fund reserves ($7.9 million from various reserve funds citywide) to fully balance the budget;
  • Is framed around making progress to achieve the city’s Legacies and Strategic Commitments, adopted by City Council in July 2009.

Pike said that, due to vacancy eliminations and reductions in force, if the budget is approved as presented, the city workforce will have shrunk by almost 65 FTEs since 2008.

“The constraint forced upon us by the national recession means that we will be doing less in 2010. In the case of several priority areas, we will maintain or even grow some services through innovation and collaboration, but it will be a tough year nonetheless.”

Pike said his proposed budget includes the following priority initiatives:

  • Launch new Office of Business Relations & Economic Development
  • Initiate Lake Whatcom 2010 Action Plan
  • Initiate waterfront infrastructure improvements
  • Amend Green Building codes
  • Reconfigure energy purchases to reduce costs while remaining a 100 percent green power city
  • Increase availability of city services on-line
  • Initiate water and wastewater conservation programs

In his presentation to City Council, Pike provided additional budget highlights as well as note key 2009 accomplishments.

“The budget before you is one that none of us would wish on our community, but it represents a good balance of responsible reactions to fewer resources at hand and proactive strategies to support growth in revenues in the years ahead,” he said.

The mayor’s 2010 preliminary budget can be downloaded from the City of Bellingham Web site.

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