Kent City Council adjusts budget for 2014
Approves funding for additional police, emergency repairs to Wilson Playfields
KENT, Wash. – December 13, 2013 – In response to higher than anticipated revenues, the Kent City Council voted last Tuesday to adjust the city’s biennial budget to include funding for additional police officers, emergency repairs to Wilson Playfields and payments toward financial reserves and debt.
The additional revenues are due to increased business activity and belt-tightening by city employees.
According to Interim Chief Administrative Officer Tom Brubaker, it is a combination of the additional revenues and expense reductions in other areas that allow these adjustments.
“While we’re seeing additional revenues in the general fund, not all accounts are healthy. That’s why we must manage conservatively as the budget moves forward,” Brubaker said.
The budget adjustment includes funding to hire six police officers, a jail corrections officer, an administrative assistant to the police chief and a consultant to help bring more retail activity to the city.
“This adjustment allows us to bring back some of the things that we had to do without during the recession," Council President Dennis Higgins said. "It allows us to get more police on the streets, allows us to deal with increased permit activity and allows us to fix a very critical city facility in Wilson Playfields.”
The council agreed to allocate $500,000 towards synthetic turf replacement at Wilson Playfields, a popular soccer, baseball and softball complex along 132nd Avenue Southeast.
Originally installed 12 years ago, the turf is past its recommended eight-year useful life. The cost to replace the turf is an estimated at $1.5 million to $2 million. A large part of the remaining funds will come from the Capital Projects Fund, forcing delay of other projects.
Brubaker said the city made great strides in funding its reserves.
“Our city, like other governments and most individuals met some really rough waters during the recession. We laid off staff, deferred maintenance, reduced or cut services and programs and borrowed from long term capital accounts – similar to borrowing from your long term savings account. As we achieve more financial stability, we now must pay those accounts back,” Brubaker said.
Other highlights of the budget adjustment include:
- Reaching a fully-funded 10% General Fund reserve (a safeguard for unanticipated revenue shortfalls) rather than the 8% originally budgeted for 2013
- Fully funding the city’s emergency reserves two years ahead of schedule at $1.5 million
- Paying down the Capital Improvements Fund by approximately $4 million
City council president Dennis Higgins said the council is mindful the unanticipated revenues are a temporary boost to the city’s bottom line.
“While we’re seeing some results from the economic recovery, we need to continue to manage city revenue and pay down our debt,” Higgins said.
"And that’s what we’re doing with the bulk of this money – it will go to pay off internal debt,” says Higgins. “We’re very frugally making a careful investment to restore basic services we were forced to eliminate during the recession.
“As for Wilson Playfields, without replacement of the turf, we’d have to shut the fields down. With over 800 games and 40,000 participants each year, maintaining this well-used community asset is a smart investment.”
The council adopted its first two-year budget in December 2012, rather than voting each year on a budget. The decisions this year are adjustments to the 2013-14 budget.
The city budget is available online at KentWA.gov/Budget
Michelle Wilmot, Kent Community & Public Affairs