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LEAN TIMES AHEAD FOR MONROE
July 10, 2008
(MONROE, WA) -- It seems almost certain that lean times are head for the city of Monroe. Like many other cities through out the region and country facing budget deficits due to the home mortgage market collapse, credit crunch and soft economy Monroe faces some robust slashes in spending to deal with a projected $1 Million dollar budget shortfall by the end of this year; a figure that could reach $2 Million dollars by the end of 2009 if reductions in spending in the city’s general fund account are not made in a timely fashion.
On Wednesday of this week Monroe Mayor Donetta Walser presented the city council with new budget figures anchored in a broad, almost 11 percent across the board series of spending cuts in all city departments. The figures were arrived at by each city department director submitting a report to the mayor outlining proposed spending cuts in their departments and the impact those cuts will have on services the city provides to
The new budget figures presented to council include deferring the purchase of new equipment and supplies and employee layoffs. Employee staff cuts would come in the police, planning and parks departments. One hundred percent of the salaries in those departments are paid out of the roughly $11 Million dollar annual general fund revenue account. Most of the layoffs, if implemented, would occur around September 1st.
Besides employee layoffs and deferred purchases the budget trimming plan calls for shifting some money from other accounts into the general fund account. The assumption is those series of account balancing measures could neutralize about $1.8 Million dollars of the $2 Million dollar projected shortfall by the end of 2009.
The projected effects of the cuts include possibly longer time lines in obtaining city permits from the planning department and reduction in maintenance and services at the city’s 14 parks, trails and open spaces among other possible effects.
Councilman Mitch Ruth has proposed selling off a city owned asset to deal with the problem as well as laying off the city’s human resources and risk manager. The asset Ruth proposed selling is one half of Currie Park.
Sales tax income for the city in 2008 is projected to be $400,000 less than was expected before the mortgage meltdown and other factors affecting the economy. Sales tax income makes up the largest portion of income for the city.
Monroe will also lose money because of the state of Washington’s new sales tax system. Under the new system Monroe could lose between $275,000 and $400,000, money Monroe would have counted as income before the system went into effect.