Kent City Council Passes 2010 Budget
Preserves Public Safety
KENT, Wash. – December 8, 2009 – Kent City Council members passed a 2010 budget that focuses on core responsibilities and is smaller than the 2009 adopted budget by 5.6%.
According to Council President Debbie Raplee, the worst economic recession since the Great Depression forced hard decisions. “We needed to make critical choices about how to spend tax dollars and reduce our spending to keep our city’s finances strong.”
“In spite of these tough decisions, we are not taking police officers off the streets or firefighters off of trucks,” Raplee added. “We were not willing to compromise public safety.”
The 2010 budget totals $157.4 million. Of that, $80.3 million represents the General Fund budget, and $11.4 million is for capital projects. The rest of the budget is dedicated to other funds.
The city’s General Fund provides funding for basic services including police, courts, fire and emergency services, infrastructure maintenance, community services, economic and community development, and internal support services. All of these services are provided by city employees, and the city’s largest expense is wages and benefits. The General Fund is mostly funded by taxes.
Approximately 67% of the expenditures in the General Fund are dedicated to public safety, which includes police, courts, and fire and emergency services. Other services including maintenance on infrastructure, parks, recreation, community services, and economic and community development account for approximately 27%, while internal support services make up the remainder.
With the slowing economy, the preliminary projections indicated a gap of $4.61 million between revenues and expenditures, a shortfall of more than 5% of the General Fund budget.
In order to make up the difference, this budget reflects the elimination of nearly 56 positions, 24 of which resulted in layoffs. When these are added to the 32 positions that were left unfilled, the city is operating with 56 less people — a 6.7% reduction in its workforce.
Highlights and Impacts:
- No reductions in Police that compromise response times and public safety; cuts include accreditation staff, public education staff, reduced internal training and parking enforcement.
- Service reductions in Parks, Recreation and Community Services include a reduced number of senior trips at the Senior Center, consolidation of all services at the Resource Center to Kent Commons, elimination of scorekeepers in the adult softball program, elimination of youth/teen trips, and a reduction in the number of events and concerts.
- Slower response times to non-public safety service requests across all departments.
- Includes funding for continued maintenance of the City’s physical assets.
- City employees received no pay raises.
- Includes a $1 million reserve fund for flood fight response.
Raplee also emphasized that 2009 has been a year of accomplishments in Kent.
“In tough times we are continuing to deliver results,” said Raplee. “We are showing that smart investments continue to make Kent a vibrant community.” She highlighted the following:
- The city’s crime rate has decreased by double digits for the last three years.
- We’ve obtained millions of dollars for critical levee improvements to insulate our community from flood threats.
- New companies are calling Kent home and bringing needed jobs to our community.
- Our award-winning ShoWare Center has put Kent on the map, with entertainment options that are close to home.
Michelle Witham, City of Kent