2019 budget approval delayed 2 weeks
Last updated 12/5/2018 at Noon
The city’s 2019 budget approval has again been delayed and will be pushed back until the Dec. 17 meeting, as it did not garner enough votes for approval.
The Mukilteo City Council needs to have a majority plus one or five councilmembers in order to pass a budget. At their Monday, Dec. 4 meeting, Councilmember Sarah Kneller was absent, and Councilmembers Bob Champion and Richard Emery were not yet comfortable approving the budget.
Many of the amounts in the council’s budget booklet were not up to date, as the booklet was prepared in August. Additionally, the council made some budget amendments to their 2018 budget, which altered ending dollar amounts for various funds.
Because of this, Champion had some reservations about approving the budgetWhen examining the numbers, he said he saw a significant decrease in dollars.
“I’m now wondering with everything we’ve done here, what is the total impact to that over the total budget, and do you need time to update the numbers so we are looking at current, complete and accurate information?” Champion asked Finance Director Michelle Meyer.
Meyer said she could have those numbers updated by the council’s Dec. 17 meeting.
“I think we need to reset,” Champion said.
Council President Steve Schmalz, Council Vice President Christine Cook, and Councilmembers Scott Whelpley and Anna Rohrbough were in favor of passing the budget Monday night. Rohrbough said she didn’t see enough discrepancy to delay the budget another two weeks.
“I don’t think that number is going to change,” she said. “I think it’s important to get the number, I do appreciate that, but I don’t think it’s going to change the cuts that we’re making, but I could be wrong.”
Starting in November, the council went through different line items in the budget where members wished to see additions or subtractions in funds, and at Monday’s meeting, they took dollar amounts four or more councilmembers agreed on and put them together, which totaled over $300,000 in cuts. They agreed to put those dollars into the city’s equipment replacement fund.
The council will meet again Dec. 17 to discuss the budget, and it must be approved before the new year. Councilmember Whelpley told the council he will be out of town, but will call in for the next meeting.
Ladder truck ILA to be cut
Councilmember Whelpley has made it clear over the last few weeks that he wants an Interlocal Agreement (ILA) between the city and South County Fire for a ladder truck and a battalion chief to be removed as soon as possible.
At the Dec. 3 meeting, Whelpley made a motion to give South County Fire notice of termination of that ILA within the next year. But South County Fire reportedly told Mukilteo Fire Chief Chris Alexander and members of the City Council that it wanted the last year of the agreement to play out.
Whelpley said the city is overpaying for the service because of a mutual aid agreement with other nearby fire agencies, which include the services of a ladder truck and a battalion chief.
“When they come in for payment, I want to know how many calls they came into the city for,” he said.
By doing this, he added, residents will understand they are overpaying for that current ILA.
Whelpley’s motion passed unanimously.
Charlie Pancerzewski, a former Mukilteo City Councilmember, is a fixture at Mukilteo City Council meetings, and is a regular participant in the public comment portion at meetings.
He regularly sends elected officials emails with concerns over city finances and other issues related to city government.
At an earlier meeting, the council closed the public hearing portion for the 2019 budget. Pancerzewski had filled out a card to talk on the budget, which was the final budget item of the night, but was not allowed to speak on that item specifically.
He waited until the end of the meeting, where another public comment period occurred, and said he felt silenced, and was upset with how the budget process was occurring.
“I asked to speak on item 12 on the budget under business items, and I’ve never been to a council meeting in the last 45 years in Mukilteo where something was on the agenda and the public was not permitted to speak to it,” he said. “You’ve been talking about making changes to what you’ve talked about prior on the budget, but no input from the public was permitted for that.
“I just think it’s outrageous, I don’t think it’s appropriate, I don’t think it’s legal.”
Pancerzewski felt some items, like sales tax from the ferry terminal construction, wasn’t properly reported or noted.
“Since when are you not concerned about a half million dollars of sales tax revenue for next year? I mean it’s just outrageous how you’re dealing with the budget,” he said. “It’s not how anyone in business would deal with their budgets, and you’re trying to tell the public that this is what your actual revenues and expenses are expected to be? I can’t believe it.”
Pancerzewski said he believes what the council is doing is unethical, which is ironic as they have discussed at length whether city funds were inappropriately spent by Mayor Jennifer Gregerson.
Rohrbough responded, saying she trusts what the city staff have been presenting them, and didn’t appreciate the comments about her and fellow councilmembers being unethical.