Duvall ponders budget changes

P>DUVALL — City officials hoped their special budget meeting last

week would attract dozens of Duvall residents, but instead, only about a

dozen city employees showed up. And of those in attendance, only about

half of them live in the city.

The city council members planned to ask residents at the meeting to

prioritize which services were the most important to them, especially since

the possible passing of Initiative 695 would strip away about $350,000

in revenue for the city. Though the officials did not take a stand for or

against the initiative, they wanted to make sure that they had a clear direction

from their constituents in case I-695 passes in November.

"Real tough decisions need to be made," said Mayor Glen Kuntz.

"We need to know the priorities because once we make the cuts in

January, people will get mad."

"It's gonna hit them in the pocket first."

The initiative proposes to eliminate the state's 2.2 percent motor

vehicle excise tax and replace it with a $30 license tab fee.

According to Councilwoman Pat Fullmer, the city receives

approximately $1.1 million in tax income, which equals to about 38 percent

of the city's operating expense revenues. The taxes fund the day-to-day

running of the city, including police, streets, finance, parks, city hall,

administration and the city council.

"We will still have money, but it will be a lot less," she said. "So

the decision needs to be how we will allocate it."

At the meeting, the council provided a budget ballot for residents

to indicate which services were the most important to them. Among the

items listed were parks, streets, police services, arts, economic development

and community outreach.

Joan Ramsey, president of the Duvall Chamber of Commerce,

said that she would like the city to spend more resources on beautifying

the area.

"I want to see a priority to the business district," she said. "Our

appearance and character is everything."

The second part of the initiative's effects on the city would be that

any tax increases (utility rates, dog license fees, etc.) would need to be

approved by residents.

Right now the city is looking at improving its sewer treatment

plant and would possibly need to increase fees to cover the cost. But if voters

turn down the measure, it would leave the city in a bind.

Also, if the City of Seattle decides to raise its rates for water services

and Duvall residents vote against the rate hike, the city would need to

scramble to find money to pay for it.

"If the public doesn't vote for it, we won't have water," Fullmer said.

"But the city should actually say that we'll have to cut other places

to provide water," added Councilmember Tom Loutsis.

"Some money can be moved around," answered Fullmer. "But

to think we won't have major problems is wrong. To cover anything by

taking it from somewhere else — we won't have somewhere else anymore."

The city is still interested in finding out what services residents are

interested in funding for the next year and beyond. Finance Director

Kevin Brenner said he is currently putting together the city's budget and plans

to present it to the council in November. The budget is usually finalized

and passed in December.

For more information about the budget, or to voice your opinion,


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