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Lynnwood Mayor Submits 2015-16 Proposed Preliminary Budget

Last night, Lynnwood’s Mayor Nicola Smith delivered to City Council her first Proposed Preliminary Budget for fiscal year 2015-2016. The City of Lynnwood has an adopted Biennial budget process which includes several steps in approving a final budget, which by State law, must be adopted no later than December 31, 2014. Now that the Proposed Preliminary Budget is submitted, there will be a series of Council Work Sessions, Public Hearings, and proposed amendments with the goal of City Council adopting a balanced budget by December 8, 2014.

Mayor Smith approached the creation of her Proposed Preliminary Budget in an open and transparent fashion. She has been gathering input on budget priorities from her weekly Citizen Engagement meetings, a Citizen Summit held in May with key stakeholders, a Builders Summit held in July, a Department Director’s Retreat, an Executive Budget Balancing Group, and involvement from City Council Leadership and the Council Finance Committee.

Mayor Smith approached the creation of this budget by engaging all Department Directors to work together to build a budget focusing on our commitment to the Community Vision. This proposed budget has been created using a consensus based approach. Department Directors were given the responsibility of identifying budget excess and shortfalls, creating solutions, and managing city operations during this challenging process. The Mayor appointed five Department Directors to an Executive Budget Balancing Group to develop recommendations for a city-wide budget that repositions resources to city priorities, maintains a level of service in an austere time, starts to identify where we can further analyze efficiencies and looks to the future. This preliminary budget is the first step towards engaging in conversations and further refining the 2015-2016 budget with City Council, Department heads and our Lynnwood community.

“Fix It, Refresh It, Grow It”
Recovery from the Great Recession has been slow, leaving revenues flat, while expenditures and labor costs have been steadily increasing. Mayor Smith has proposed a balanced “Fix It” budget that includes a combination of department reductions, revenue increases, and strategic realignment. These measures follow the Long-Term Financial Plan as adopted by City Council in 2011, follow the State Auditor’s recommendations, maintain levels of service to the community, and kick-start a combination of Community Vision Initiatives which were outlined in the 2009 adopted Community Vision.

During the 2015-2016 Biennium, Mayor Smith is suggesting a series of efficiency studies to be conducted to review repositioning or alternative service delivery options for some of our most costly city services such as Criminal Justice services (Police and Municipal Court), the Fire Department, and consideration of a Regional Park District. This “Refresh It” process will explore ways to address efficiencies and service levels as well as moving Lynnwood into a position to become a strategic regional partner. From there, the next Biennium will be used to “Grow It” and create a Lynnwood community that follows our Community Vision of being a “regional model for a sustainable, vibrant community with engaged citizens and an accountable government.”

More information about the City’s budgeting process and timeline can be found online at www.lynnwoodwa.gov/Government/Budget-and-Finance/Biennial-Budget.