Council Pushback, Concessions And COVID-19 Drive 2021 Everett City Budget

November 26, 2020

Everett

The budget process will continue into December. A balanced budget must be passed by the end of the year.

The Everett City Council has taken a more vocal role in budget planning this year and that has led to extended briefings and later decisions in adopting a balanced budget for 2021. On November 1st Everett City Council members put several items into a “parking lot” for further explanation and consideration.

Those included so-called “Quality of Life” items which were highlighted by Council Budget Chair Scott Murphy. At that time he indicated he wanted to make sure they were included in the 2021 budget. Examples given were:

Senior Center Funding
Jetty Island Days
4th of July
Music in the Park
Restoration of Library operating hours
Return of the Coordinator position for the City Office of Neighborhoods.

Most of those items were eliminated this year after COVID-19 flared up this Spring. With the prospect of the pandemic continuing well into 2021 they were not included in the 2021 budget. The administration also put out a call for partnership proposals for things like the Senior Center and other events.

At the most recent City Council meeting Wednesday afternoon 11/25 (which lasted more than four hours) council members went item by item over the parking lot list and made the following budget requests.

  • Earmarked $80,000.00 to bring back the 4th of July fireworks display over Port Gardner Bay
  • Put $300,000.00 in reserve for operation/reopening of the Senior Center
  • Directed $300,000.00 to the Library Budget with the wish those dollars be used to restore full operating hours
  • Asked remaining savings identified (approximately $360,000.00) be put toward budget gap of $500,000.00 that the City had hoped to close with concessions from employees.

    Other items, including Jetty Island Days, Music at the Marina, Kid’s Music in Parks and a COVID Art Installation will stay in parking lot for further consideration after the first of the year.

    Council found the money for the above reinstatements by moving money recently released from the street overlay fund after a court decision, cutting the amount of money to be budgeted to cover the increasing cost of housing prisoners in the County Jail and tweaking some other amounts in the budget proposed by the City Administration.

    There is still a gap in the 2021 budget that is being worked on before a final vote on adoption. The City had hoped to gain a million dollars in concessions from various City Employee Unions but not all agreed, leaving administrators short of their goal.
    The Everett Police Officers Association announced the following last week:

    The Everett Police Officers Assoc. in an unprecedented move, voted in late October 2020 to re-open the collective bargaining agreement and voted to increase their share of healthcare premiums; saving the city over $180,000+ in one year. It’s a drop in the bucket but doing our part to assist in the crisis and avoid further layoffs!

    That was followed by an announcement from Everett Firefighters Local 46:

    “The Everett Firefighters Union wanted to do our part to help balance Mayor Franklin’s proposed budget, by providing concessions to the City during these challenging financial times. The membership agreed to suspend the annual sick leave incentive program for the 2020-2021 collective bargaining agreement. Concessions from the Everett Firefighters should yield an estimated $160,000+ in savings to the city next year.”

    On Wednesday after the City Council meeting MyEverettNews.com was given the following breakout on concessions by City of Everett Communications Director Kimberely Kline:

    Thanks for your patience while we gathered this information. Here is a breakdown on concessions agreed by unions thus far:

    Everett Police Officers Association: $178,000

    IAFF: $165,000

    Additionally, the City will be ending medical coverage for separating employees the month that they separate, which will save $75,000. This applies to EPOA, AFSCME, IAFF and all city appointive employees.

    Negotiations are ongoing with ATU and the Everett Police Management Association.

    In addition to these concessions, I wanted to note that the City further expects to save $258,000 by reducing medical benefits similar to the EPOA and IAFF reductions and limiting wage increases for appointive employees. We are thankful for the support from our appointive (non-represented) employees.

    Also during that latest budget briefing Wednesday, the council was told the City expects a carry forward of around $12 million dollars at the end of this year that could be put to the expected deficit of $14 million dollars in the 2022 budget.

    The council received a reminder that the so-called structural deficit identified several years ago remains and each year of the five-year outlook moving forward contains deficits in the millions of dollars.

    The council votes were not unanimous with council member Jeff Moore absent. Budget Chair Scott Murphy led the argument for the “Quality of Life” items to be put back in the budget while Council Member Liz Vogeli argued this needs to be a bare-bones budget and Everett has to get by on Top-Ramen for a while and the City needs to stop kicking things down the road.

    You can click here to see the full deliberations on the budget from past City Council meetings. As of this writing (Thursday 11/26/2020) the most recent meeting has not yet been posted.

    A final budget ordinance may come before the full Everett City Council next Wednesday December 2nd with a final vote on the 2021 budget coming on Wednesday December 16th.

    One thing to note is the City is driven by what can be open and where money can be spent by what phase things are operating in under the pandemic. Budget amendments and adjustments can be made throughout the year and as forecasts change so does the budget. Programs including the Senior Center and Music and Parks may be supplanted with public-private partnerships.

    Here is a link to the proposed 2021 budget on the City of Everett website.



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    About myeverettnews

    My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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