Tag Archives: budget

Thought things were bad with the city’s finances?

…Well it’s about to get worse.

Or, at least that’s what the city Finance Director Elray Konkel is hinting at.

He said today that 2009’s budgeted revenues are now expect to be “substantially lower than projected.”

Konkel will reveal the new projections at a special city finances workshop on Wednesday. The meeting starts at 5 p.m. and precedes the regular City Council meeting at 7.

The city’s already noted that ’08’s year-end cash balance came in at about $1.2 million under projections. The new numbers spurred talk last week of a 15 percent cut to the operations budget, including possible layoffs.

The new projections for ’09 will likely lead to another round of cuts.

I’ll keep you posted.

Employees accept 10-day City Hall closure


It’s official. City Hall will lock its doors an extra 10 days next year. The cost savings, according to the city, means fewer employees will be dragged on to the chopping block.

The story’s below.

City employees voted Tuesday night to accept a plan to close City Hall 10 extra days next year.

The unpaid furlough proposal developed by the city administration and endorsed by the City Council as a cost-cutting measure to help avoid layoffs.

The furlough will shut down City Hall for 10 nonconsecutive days in 2009.

The Bainbridge Island Police Department will not be affected by the furlough.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the union representing most city staff, approved the furlough by a vote of 77 percent, according to the city. Almost 80 union members participated in the decision, which required a participation minimum of 30 percent.

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Crashing a closed-door city finance meeting

The City Council plans to crash a city finance meeting they weren’t invited to. And they’re bringing the public with them.

“People are really upset about how money is being spent, and there’s a general feeling that the city is mismanaging taxpayer dollars,” said Council Chairman Bill Knobloch, who invited his colleagues to a meeting on Monday intended as a closed-door discussion between the city administration and representatives from the state auditor’s office, who will present a draft of the city’s 2007 audit.

Knobloch and at least three other council members, who were not invited by the administration, plan to attend.

Having four of the city’s seven council members present constitutes a quorum, making the proceedings a public record and open to public attendance.

“Why wouldn’t we want this to be a public meeting?” said Councilwoman Kim Brackett, who plans to attend. “It’s about taxpayer money, after all.”

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Cutting costs by closing City Hall’s doors

Shutting down City Hall and sending workers home for 10 days next year may save enough money to avoid a new round of staff cuts.

“Instead of more permanent layoffs, this is a tool that a number of cities are using to balance budgets,” said Mayor Darlene Kordonowy.

Following the lead of King County, the city may institute unpaid staff furloughs to fill growing budget gaps. The City Council on Wednesday will consider approval of a mayor-backed agreement with city workers that would shut down all nonessential city services for 10 days spread throughout the year, typically on Fridays.

Under the proposal, the city would save an estimated $371,000 in 2009 and $387,000 in 2010.

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Scales: ‘The mayor is building a budgetary house of cards’

Former City Councilman Bob Scales says the mayor’s proposed budget would spend too much and cut too little. Read his column below.

Despite a global economic crisis and declining city revenues, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy has proposed yet another unsustainable budget. Over the next two years she plans to add more than $30 million to city coffers by raising taxes, rates and fees, and by going even further into debt.

The mayor needs this extra cash so she can launch the most aggressive capital spending program in the city’s history – $50 million for a handful of mega-projects. This spending program will leave the city with crippling debt, homeowners with higher property taxes and utility customers with massive rate increases, including a 42 percent increase in storm water fees and a 44 percent increase in sewer rates.

The mayor wants to maintain city bureaucracy at a time when other cities are slashing operating expenses and laying off employees. If the City Council approves the mayor’s reckless agenda, they will likely condemn the city to years of financial turmoil.

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Bainbridge police face ‘cuts on top of cuts’

While one Bainbridge police officer was in Port Orchard to drop a suspect off at the county jail the other two on-duty officers were rushing to the home of suicidal woman with a kitchen knife.

That’s about the time their radios crackled with reports of a car collision blocking a major island roadway.

“If we had anybody loose, we would have sent somebody,” said Bainbridge Police Chief Matt Haney, recounting a busy evening for his department late last month. “But when things happen all at once, all of a sudden… sometimes we don’t have the flexibility to cover all things.”

The department’s ability to cover the island may stretch even thinner next year with proposed budget reductions that would pull one patrol officer position from the payroll and eliminate the city’s emergency manager.

“The perception could be that ‘oh, it’s just one officer,’ but it does impact everything,” Haney said, expecting a roster of 22 commissioned officers in 2009. “It’ll be tough next year.”

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Despite outcry, city moves forward with debt-funded plan

The City Council narrowly approved a controversial bond-funded plan Wednesday that would put nearly $1.8 million toward small-scale capital projects.

“We’re all taxpayers and wish the city could meet its obligations without going into debt,” said Councilman Barry Peters. “Projects like the famous bathroom are now virtually done and we have to pay for it,” he said, noting that the long delayed Waterfront Park restroom is, after almost eight years, finally set for completion in the coming months.

Road repairs, bicycle lanes and city dock upgrades were also included in the bond-funded plan.

While using bonds to fund capital projects is common, critics argued that most of the plan’s elements were for small items that could have been paid for out of the general fund or deferred to a later time when the city wasn’t facing a $2.5 million revenue shortfall.

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Cutting capital projects

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There’s a lot of dollars up for discussion at City Hall tomorrow. The City Council is scheduled for a four-hour capital facilities plan workshop starting at 10 a.m.

At 7 p.m., the council reconvenes to tackle proposed capital projects reductions, proposed additional funding for a code update project and priorities for federal transportation funding.

See my story about the proposed capital cuts below.

Deep cuts planned for city capital projects
By Tristan Baurick

The City Council will vote on a proposal to slash $2.8 million worth of capital projects tomorrow in an effort to balance a budget hit with unexpected revenue shortfalls.

The proposed cuts include $400,000 for road preservation work, $120,000 for new trails, a $10,000 roof repair for the senior center and $75,000 to plan the senior center’s expansion.

Finance Director Elray Konkel said none of the cuts were easy. But the city, he added, is faced with a simple money problem.

“We just don’t have the cash,” he said.

The reductions were initiated after the city forecasted a $2.5 million revenue decline largely due to a weakening housing market.

At $1.5 million, the largest line item in the capital reduction plan is for the purchase of the Quay Bainbridge apartment complex. The city had already backed out of a deal that would have preserved the 70 units as affordable housing when the property’s value was appraised at far less than its asking price.

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