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Mill Creek passes biennial budget for 2021-22

One time sum from housing project fills 2021 coffers

 

Last updated 12/11/2020 at 10:38am



The Mill Creek City Council adopted its 2021-22 biennium budget at its Dec. 1 meeting. Budgeted revenues, including beginning fund balances, total $63,307,940.

Budgeted expenses match revenues for these same years. In line with current economic conditions, the biennial budget includes a plan to generate revenues without increasing property taxes.

"We plan to support the needs of the city while recovering from the effects that COVID-19 has had on our city and the economy," said City Manager Michael Ciaravino in a press release. "We have developed the budget based on the council's directives, and in anticipation of a long recovery period from the current economic downturn."

The budget is organized into general and capital improvement funds. General fund revenues are projected at $29,724,323, with expenses slightly below that number at $29,437,804. Revenues include an annual increase in the emergency medical services property tax.

The city is considering a plan to avoid filling open, nonessential staff positions until the COVID-19 pandemic ends and the economy returns to pre-pandemic strength, according to the press release.

One boost to the budget is a project called The Farm, a construction project that is providing affordable housing units within city limits, as well as about $284,000 in one-time sales and use-tax revenues. The income from The Farm is projected to end in late 2021.

It is a 100,000-square-foot project of retail and commercial use property with 355 residential apartments on about 17 acres.

The Capital Facilities Program for the 2021-22 era is $7,002,051. The CFP includes buildings, land acquisition, park facilities, street projects, and sidewalk improvements. Much of the capital improvement activity within the CFP is funded through contributions from the general fund, real estate excise tax, acquisition of grants, issuance of bonds, and contributions of developer mitigation funds and improvements.

The city anticipates a loss of $4.2 million of revenue due to COVID-19 effects.

"The city's families and businesses are affected, as is the fiscal capacity of the city of Mill Creek." said Jeff Balentine, finance director at the time of the budgeting process. "As the pandemic resolves, our reserves must cover losses from sales and use tax, passport operations, central services, and real estate excise tax."

At present, about 40% of the city's revenue is derived from these sources, along with revenues from permits and recreational services. The projected 2021-22 budget will remain flat, the press release said, with few increases as compared to 2019-20. To mitigate the projected losses to several of its fund balances, the city is seeking to identify new revenue streams. Potential sources include new recreation services, expanded passport services, and the creation of some new governmental services that were not detailed in the press release.

"The budget assumes the COVID-19 pandemic ends soon, and that we may return to normal operations on Jan. 1, 2021, and restart recreational services by July 1, 2021. Unfortunately, the overall impact of the pandemic will likely be significant, and the city must use its discretion to allocate resources and continuously project revenues and expenses five to six years into the future," Balentine said.

The city projects its surface water reserve fund will grow based on prior, pre-approved billing increases.

The budget document will be finalized in the next several weeks to reflect continuing discussions in council and the presentation of revised financial projections. Details about specific departmental budgets and work plans are included in the Preliminary Budget Book 2021-22 biennial budget, which is available along with other city budget resources at https://bit.ly/2W5UJdH.

 

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