By Polly Keary, Editor
Monroe Mayor Robert Zimmerman last week released the city’s preliminary 2013 budget, which is designed to hold spending at current levels with no new programs and no personnel layoffs, the mayor announced.
For the first time in several years, the city completed the year in the black, the mayor noted.
Next year, the city projects a 1 percent increase in income and a 2 percent decrease in spending, except for two one-time expenses that will be paid out of contingency funds that the city created early this year.
Last year, the city projected a General Fund budget of $10,251,245. This year, the city expects revenue of $10,323,033. That is without taking into account any revenue that might derive from the construction of a Walmart, which likely will begin construction next year but probably will not open for business until 2014. Nor does the budget include anticipated income from a cable park at Lake Tye.
The city is also foregoing $19,626 that it could collect by taking the 1 percent levy increase on property allowed by law.
Thanks to a temporary law that allows real estate excise taxes to be used for certain uses not typically permitted, the city will move $200,000 in REET to the Parks Department to shore up that department’s funds.
The city budget also reflects one-time revenue from land sales that will go to one-time expenditures to pay off debt for land.
One revenue stream that has risen sharply in the last year is fines and forfeitures. In 2011, the city collected $343,935. In 2012, the city expects to finish the year with $751,998 in income from penalties, and the 2013 estimate is for $565,814.
And although the city is exploring the possibility of reducing the mitigation fees collected from developers, the 2013 estimate for fee revenue is $100,000, compared to $75,000 forecast by year end in 2012.
General fund expenditures, that is, expenditures for police and most city services other than utilities, were budgeted at $10,429,179 for 2012, and the 2013 budget is for $10,473,191.
The fund for utility operations and capital utility projects shows a significant jump in revenue due to a 14 percent rate increase going into effect next year. That increase will go toward paying for the upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant (see full story in next week’s Monitor).
Water rates are going up 5.6 percent, as well; that is because Monroe buys water from Everett and Everett is charging more.
Although no jobs are being cut at the city, employees are not getting cost-of-living increases in the preliminary budget. Health insurance costs are going to jump as much as 10 percent, however, and a retirement plan taken away in 2010 will be reinstated this year, if this budget is approved.
The budget will go through extensive review by city staff and the city council, and will be subject to a public hearing before it is passed. It will go into effect at the start of the year.