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Mayor Kathy Keolker Delivers 2008 Budget Proposal to City Council

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 6, 2007

For more information contact:

Michael Bailey, Administrator, Finance and Information Services 425-430-6858
Preeti Shridhar, Communications Director 425-430-6569

“Building for the Future”
Budget lays the groundwork for the future with a focus on public safety, basic services, affordable housing, and economic development

RENTON: Renton Mayor Kathy Keolker delivered her 2008 proposed budget to the Renton City Council on Monday, November 5, 2007.  The budget focuses on improving public safety, maintaining basic services, investing in affordable housing, and emphasizing economic development.

“Our city sits not only at the intersection of commerce and trade in the Puget Sound region, but also at the nexus of innovation, community building, and creative capital," said Mayor Keolker.

“Building for the Future is our budget message for this year. We enjoy a strong and rewarding history, and with this budget we are setting the stage for a significant renaissance. We have the opportunity to strengthen the foundation of our city and to invest in the great promise of our future,” said Mayor Keolker.

The 2008 budget totals $223,702,220. Of that total, $63,351,567 represents the capital budgets for 2008, $86,747,342 the General Government budget, and $73,603,311 the budget for other operating funds.

Highlights of the proposed budget include:

·Additional Staff Resources: The 2008 budget proposes adding eight new positions from the General Government Fund and 7.7 positions from the Utility Fund.

·Public Safety: The budget takes an innovative approach to advance public safety. By changing the service model of the Fire & Emergency Services Department and adding four employees it expands services and improves fire response staffing.  In the Police Department, additional funding for emergency communications, an expanded fleet and an innovative police cadet program.  Additional staff to help implement the city’s photo-enforcement program, and an increase in the City Prosecutor’s budget and the Public Defense budget.

·Affordable Housing:  A four-point plan to begin addressing the issue of affordable housing. The plan proposes to move the funding for the Housing Repair Assistance Program to the general fund so as to free up capacity in the current federal Community Development Block Grant, which in turn could fund a broader range of projects and activities; establish a new fund for affordable housing that will serve as local match and seed money; one-time money to establish a Homebuyer Assistance Program; and additional State tax exemptions for affordable housing projects.

·Economic Development:  Dedicated funding for the Small Business Development Center. Additional staff to coordinate the Farmers Market and special events downtown.

·Basic Services and Utilities: Adding a street maintenance worker, additional customer service staff at the Renton Community Center, a custodian for Community Services, and funding for Human Resource services and the Information Technology Strategic Plan.  Adding two maintenance workers, an engineering technician and an industrial instrument technician to maintain our systems in good condition. The budget includes a modest increase in utility rates for maintenance and capital improvements that has already been adopted by City Council.

·Increased Costs: The most significant impact to the city’s mandatory costs was the change in retirement system contributions established by the State of Washington, which adjusted its funding and increased costs by 25.4% for the city in 2008. The cost of the city’s employee-managed health care plan has also increased by 10% for 2008.

The city has prepared a separate plan and recommended budget to address the potential Benson Hill annexation. If approved, Renton will be a city of nearly 80,000 residents and the area will officially become part of the city on March 1, 2008. The Benson Hill annexation plan emphasizes providing the same level of excellent service to a larger city. The proposed annexation budget recommends adding 91 employees and related funding for a total cost of $10 million.  The additional revenues generated, one-time funding from King County, and funding from the State of Washington will offset these costs.

The budget also introduces “Renton Results,” a new community accountability program patterned after the popular “Priorities of Government” system. Renton Results describes the city’s programs and services and provides the purpose and intended result of each.  It includes indicators that the Council and citizens can use to assess levels of service for each program.  In 2008, the city intends to use this framework to engage the community and determine priorities and appropriate funding strategies.

“Safe neighborhoods and streets, affordable housing, job opportunities and a strong economy, and sound fiscal management are the principal foundations of our continued prosperity. They are also the legacies we will leave to our children,” said Mayor Keolker.

Public hearings on the proposed budget are scheduled on November 26, 2007 and December 3, 2007 at Renton City Hall. View or read the mayor’s budget message and get more information on the budget.