By Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville
On Monday, October 7, I will present to the Bellingham City Council my 2014 adjusted budget, containing proposed expenditures guided by direction from the Council, our on-going discussions about priorities, and principles and proposals developed with my leadership team.
A spending plan for 2014 was adopted by the City Council along with the 2013 budget. The changes I am proposing to the 2014 spending plan reflect our vision for how the City can provide the best services possible in an improving-yet-fickle fiscal environment. My goals for the City budget since I became Mayor have been to balance expenses with revenues, today and in the years ahead, and to make investments that are strategic and sustainable. The 2014 budget adjustments I am proposing achieve these goals, and the process we are following moves us closer to adopting a true biennial budget.
In 2012, I was given clear direction from the City Council to move toward operating the City on a biennial – two-year – budget cycle and balance revenues and expenditures by 2014. We adopted a 2013 budget and 2014 spending plan as an interim step, with plans to begin a true two-year budget for the 2015/2016 biennium.
Since Council adopted a spending plan for 2014, we are recommending changes to the 2014 portion of that adopted plan. You will see this reflected in budget documents and presentations to Council, where we will focus most of our attention on updating projections and describing additions and changes.
The adjustments I am proposing to the 2014 spending plan make strategic additions to our public safety, information technology and planning and community development service areas. Previous Council actions articulate funding public safety first and making necessary capital investments and improvements ahead of implementing new programs. The additions I propose in the 2014 adjusted budget are in line with those goals.
We also were able to balance our General Fund operating expenses and revenues, retain General Fund reserves above the adopted 12% guideline, and make one-time capital investments. As the economy continues to show signs of improvement, I am confident that the investments I am proposing in staffing levels and facility improvements will result in better service to our community.
I would like to thank the Department Heads and their staff for their work on the proposed 2014 budget adjustments. We worked as a City team to develop a City budget in line with City priorities. Special thanks to Interim Finance Director Brian Henshaw and the Budget Office. Their expertise and dedication to sound fiscal management and careful stewardship of public funds is very much appreciated.
As we begin working together to finalize our 2014 budget, I’d like to remind the community of the guiding principles I developed with my leadership team shortly after taking office.
These principles continue to serve us well in meeting our City mission to support safe, satisfying and prosperous community life by providing the citizens of Bellingham with quality, cost-effective services that meet today’s needs and form a strong foundation for the future. In addition to meeting Council direction, my 2014 proposals are based on these principles.
Previous legislative action, the Council's adopted Legacies and Strategic Commitments, Council’s adopted Financial Guidelines and recommendations of the Capital Facilities Task Force also continue to guide my administration and were important to the development of proposed changes to the 2014 budget.
The 2014 budget adjustments I am proposing include:
The proposed 2014 adjusted budget will be posted on the City website ( www.cob.org) beginning the afternoon of Oct. 7. Budget work sessions with the City Council will be scheduled throughout October and November, beginning Oct. 14. Check Council's published agendas for schedule details, including opportunities for Bellingham residents to learn more and comment.
We have a wonderful community and must work together to care for it by setting priorities and paying for them. I look forward to further discussion with staff, Council and the community in the coming weeks. Please contact my office at 778-8100 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Published: October 4, 2013