Proposed Bellevue city budget sees increasing revenue

By Joshua Adam Hicks

Bellevue News

Spending cuts have become all the rage as governments try to compensate for dwindling revenues, but Bellevue appears to be falling out of fashion.

The city released a preliminary 2008-2009 budget that predicts more money coming into its coffers and calling for a $61-million increase in expenditures.

King County meanwhile is facing what looks to be a $90 million shortfall, and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has proposed freezing $5 million in spending for his city.

Bellevue City Manager Steve Sarkozy credits Bellevue's projected financial health to fiscal stewardship and the recent building boom.

“We've reserved quite heavily in the past, and we're in a great position now to weather the downturn,” he said.

The Bellevue budget anticipates an increase in tax revenue during years to come, but city planners aren't expecting the rise to be what it once was.

“We're ticking down our growth projections after substantial growth in the past few years,” said city of Bellevue Budget Analyst Jonathan Swift.

The city expects its resources to be sufficient for maintaining current levels of service through 2014, even though there is only one tax increase – a 6-percent jump in utility rates – planned for the coming year.

Public-safety services would remain constant with the proposed budget, according to Swift.

The city already added 15 new personnel in July – eight for fire, four with police, and one traffic engineer.

The budget calls for a total of 24 additional employees, most of which will serve in utilities.

Bellevue also plans to provide matching funds for the city's $40.5-million parks levy that appears before voters Nov. 4.

Discussions about the city's proposed budget will take place throughout the month of November.

City Council will deliberate Nov. 3 over the operating budget, Nov. 10 over the capital budget, and Nov. 17 on utilities.

A follow-up discussion will take place Nov. 24, with a final decision expected Dec. 1.

Additional information about the proposed budgets is available at www.bellevuewa.gov/budgets.

Joshua Adam Hicks can be reached at jhicks@bellevuenews.us or 425-453-4290.