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Mayor Denis Law Delivers 2015-2016 Budget Proposal to Renton City Council

October 6, 2014

For more information contact:
Iwen Wang,
Administrator, Finance and Information Services 425-430-6858
Preeti Shridhar, Deputy Public Affairs Administrator 425-430-6569

RENTON: Renton Mayor Denis Law delivered his 2015-2016 proposed budget to the Renton City Council at the Council Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, October 6, 2014.

“The budget I present here today mixes aspiration with reality, hope with hard truth, and inspiration despite fiscal challenges,” said Mayor Denis Law. “This budget includes input from you and members of the community and reflects your priorities.”

Law acknowledged the work and contribution of the Community Budget Advisory Group, a group of local residents, business owners and community leaders who met over several weeks to provide valuable input and helped shape the city’s budget.

The total budget for the two-year period is $486 million, of which nearly $230 million is for the General Government fund that covers the bulk of city services that are critical to residents and local businesses.

Mayor Law reaffirmed his four key priority areas of focus and stated that the 2015-16 budget continues to provide resources for each of these areas:

  • Address Economic Development Priorities
  • Serve our Vulnerable and Diverse Populations
  • Enhance the Customer Service and Productivity of our Employees
  • Develop a Sustainable Fiscal Strategy

Law also highlighted some of the city’s accomplishments and upcoming plans. These include:

Economic Development:

  • Partnered with the Aerospace Futures Alliance and other industry members and secured $12.5 million funding from the state to build a new training facility at the Renton airport.
  • Worked with downtown property and business owners, developers, and community stakeholders to move forward on plans for downtown redevelopment.
  • Construction of a $10 million dollar downtown apartment complex at S. 2nd and Main St. that will feature 101 apartments and 3,500 square feet of retail on the main floor and is scheduled to start in a few weeks.
  • Plans underway to convert Main Street, between S. 2nd and S. 3rd, to two-way traffic and make one of the primary gateways into the downtown more pedestrian friendly.
  • Proposal to use Community Development Block Grant funds to provide financial assistance and incentive for owners in downtown Renton to rehabilitate buildings.
  • Convened a meeting of 50 downtown business and property owners and other stakeholders to discuss creating a downtown business association to help with downtown redevelopment efforts; the budget proposal provides staff and resources for this.
  • Plans to reinstate flower baskets in downtown next spring.
  • Groundbreaking of $180 million four-star hotel at Southport on Lake Washington with 350 rooms, fine restaurants and a 40,000 square foot conference center.
  • Plans for IKEA to build new $75 to $100 million dollar store.

Redevelopment of the Highlands/Sunset Area:

  • Construction of new Highlands library.
  • Various residential projects in coordination with Colpitts Development.
  • Plan to request state funding for 3.7 acre neighborhood park for Sunset community.

Building an inclusive city and serving our vulnerable populations:

  • Training for all employees on race, equity and inclusion.
  • Strengthened relationships with community liaisons and in the process of formalizing their commitment to the city.
  • Developing an equity lens to help evaluate our internal systems such as job recruitment and purchasing.
  • Plan to eliminate pet license fee for low income seniors.
  • Plan to change requirements for reduced utility rates to make it easier for low income seniors.
  • Worked with Renton Youth Advocacy Center to use Tiffany Park Neighborhood Center for afterschool and youth programs.
  • Continue successful partnership with Center of Hope to help homeless women and children.

Law also explained how city employees continue to enhance productivity and customer service.

“Our employees, from police officers to our storm water workers, continue to find ways to meet the needs of our citizens while often going that extra mile to provide special service,” said Law. “I continually receive comments from our citizens and business owners praising individual employees for their professionalism and for the services they have provided.”

He also explained the challenges the city and other jurisdictions continue to face to maintain financial stability and some of the city’s efforts to build a sustainable fiscal strategy. Every year, the cost of maintaining basic city services increases but revenues do not grow at the same rate. Renton, like many other cities and many businesses in the state, continues to struggle to keep pace with inflation and the cost of employee wages and benefits.

With the support of Council, input from business and based on the recommendations of the Budget Advisory Committee, the city’s budget proposes a Business and Occupation Tax to maintain service levels and address the budget shortfall. The city’s proposal spreads the tax broadly across the business community while protecting small business.

While the Mayor’s budget proposal does not include new programs or initiatives, it does focus on improved productivity and efficiency. Some of the key elements of the budget proposal include:

  • Increased staffing in Community and Economic Development to keep pace with the dramatic increase in permit activity.
  • Adding two positions in the police department to staff School Resource Officers; a partnership with the Renton School District helps share some of these costs.
  • Additional funding for Human Services by $48,000.
  • Additional funding for critical maintenance and capital projects.

“Renton has a rich history of embracing the future and making its mark,” said Law. “ We are a city that is proud of its past, but even more excited about what the future holds—a future where all our residents have access to all of the opportunities, jobs and culture that Renton has to offer.”

To view or read the mayor’s budget message and for more information on the budget, please visit rentonwa.gov.