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Mayor's budget based on Council direction, sound financial principles

Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville presented the Preliminary 2013 Budget to the Bellingham City Council on Oct. 8, 2012, a proposed two-year financial plan guided by direction from the City Council and principles she developed with her leadership team.

"My proposed budget reflects my vision for how the City can provide the best services possible in a challenging fiscal environment," Linville said. "While the very worst of our local and national economic challenges appear to be behind us, our community and our City finances are still recovering. My goal is to make sure expenses match revenues, today and in the years ahead."

Budget meets Council direction

Linville said she was given clear direction from City Council in crafting the preliminary budget, and she is pleased to report the proposed budget meets all of the City Council's requests.

"The City Council and I agreed to create a two-year financial plan, which I have provided. The Council provided direction to balance our City General Fund budget with no more than $400,000 in deficit spending in 2013 and zero deficit spending in 2014," she said. "I am pleased to report that my proposed budget meets these requests.

She said the preliminary budget she has presented also supports the Council's Legacies and Strategic Commitments, Council's adopted Financial Management Guidelines and Council's adopted Capital Facilities Task Force recommendations, as well as other policy direction Council has provided.

Budget highlights

Linville's proposed 2013 budget includes a General Fund of $67 million in revenues and $67.3 million of expenses, the resulting $393,000 deficit filled by using reserves. This deficit is reduced to zero in Linville's proposed 2014 General Fund budget of $68.3 million in revenues and expenses.

The proposed 2013 budget maintains sufficient workforce levels and does not include employee layoffs, Linville said, though this budget relies on position reductions through retirements and resignations, which will be closely monitored through 2013.

Financial plan guided by principles

Linville said that, in addition to following City Council direction, her proposed budget is based on the guiding principles she developed with her leadership team in her first months as Mayor:

  1.  Provide essential community services
  2.  Pay as we go
  3.  Practice due diligence
  4.  Meet targeted financial reserves
  5.  Follow the rules or change them
  6.  Align resources to achieve City goals
  7.  Fix it first
  8.  Show pride in our work
  9.  Value our employees
  10.  Make choices based on info and data
  11.  Require transparency & accountability

Budget adoption process

The City Council has scheduled several follow up work sessions to consider the budget in more detail. These are planned for Oct. 15, 22, 29 and Nov. 5, 13, 19 and 26. After these deliberations, the City Council is tentatively scheduled to consider a final budget on Dec. 3. By state law, a final budget for 2013 must be adopted by Dec. 31, 2012.

More information:

Published: Oct 8, 2012

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