The city of Kirkland aims to keep the community “safe, sustainable and connected” with its $790 million budget for 2019-20.
The Kirkland City Council was officially introduced to the draft budget document at an Oct. 30 study session, and is set to approve the final version in December, after a few more meetings and public hearings in November.
The budget was built with input from council, the public and departments in the city, said city manager Kurt Triplett. It assumes that voters will pass Proposition 1, a sales tax ballot measure estimated to raise about $1.8 million for enhanced police services and community safety. Initial election results came in Nov. 6, after the Reporter’s print deadline.
Notably, the 2019-20 budget will be the last one adopted prior to the expiration of the Annexation Sales Tax Credit (ASTC) in 2021 and the loss of nearly $4 million dollars per year in general fund revenue. The city annexed the North Juanita, Finn Hill and Kingsgate areas in 2011.
Triplett said the city has been planning for alternate revenue sources and will continue to do so. Kirkland also has to grapple with how to handle growth, especially for transportation and parks. The city needs to “provide infrastructure and services that respond to the unprecedented growth in jobs, housing and commercial properties throughout Kirkland,” according to the budget message.
The budget adds some staff, funding a full-time emergency management coordinator, a new signal technician and a park ranger. If passed, Prop. 1 will add almost a dozen full-time employees, including police officers in a ProAct Unit, school resource officers, a police analyst and a neighborhood resource officer, paired with a mental health professional.
Council wanted to set aside funding for a second phase of community safety outreach, and the 2019-20 budget includes money for a community stakeholder process and election costs for a potential ballot measure for fire station modernization and operations in 2020.
The capital budget includes more than $20 million to build a new Fire Station 24 at the Rite Aid site in North Juanita, assist in acquiring property for a new Fire Station 27 on the east side of Interstate 405, near Evergreen Health and construct a new training facility at Fire Station 26.
Looking to the future and at generational equity, the budget also allows for “the issuance of up to $27.2 million in municipal bonds to help finance transportation and other public improvements to meet the needs of our rapidly growing community now, while spreading the cost over time.”
In total, the preliminary biennial budget of $789.2 million has grown 5 percent over the 2017-18 budget of $751.8 million. Rates have increased for utilities, including water/sewer, surface water and solid waste because provider costs have increased. The city is also investing in transportation improvements and its reserve accounts. However, it has saved money in a few areas, including lower capital transfers, lower insurance costs and energy efficiency savings.
In addition to financial sustainability, the preliminary budget includes service packages for environmental sustainability. It would fund Kirkland’s first Sustainability Master Plan, in addition to new electric fleet vehicles, a full-size all-weather turf field at 132nd Square Park and Phase One of the new Totem Lake Park.
The “connected” piece comes from the city’s desire to enhance technology and transit. The budget looks to fund a Smart Cities Plan, move Kirkland’s information technology infrastructure to the cloud and develop Safer School Routes Action Plans for every Kirkland elementary school, middle school and high school. The capital budget includes tens of millions for dollars for bike lanes, sidewalks, trails and greenways.
This budget would also fund the $18 million Totem Lake Connector Bridge, and continue the level of project staffing for the Washington State Department of Transportation’s 132nd ramps, Sound Transit’s Northeast 85th Street Bus Rapid Transit station and King County Metro Transit’s Metro Connects plan.
Human services and affordable housing were identified as priorities by the community. Under the proposed budget, Kirkland would continue its parity contribution to A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH) Housing Trust Fund at $830,000 over the biennium, on a onetime basis and its Community Development Block Grant contribution to the ARCH Housing Trust Fund of $256,024. It would also provide a $100,000 program to incentivize the construction of accessory dwelling units.
During the budget discussion, the city pointed out one area in which it expected costs to go down, but didn’t: the Kirkland Jail.
With the completion of the 64-bed jail at the Kirkland Justice Center in 2014, the city expanded its capacity to house misdemeanor inmates and significantly reduce the amount paid to external correctional facilities for inmate housing.
“This change occurred against the backdrop of the national opioid epidemic, which brings medical and mental health considerations that are outside the capacity of in-house corrections staff,” according to the budget document. “Recently this has resulted in an increase in the amount paid to the South King Corrections Entity to house inmates with these conditions. To account for this, the 2018 budget was increased on a one-time basis by $250,000.”
The 2019-20 budget continues this adjustment, and reserves an additional $200,000 convert detoxification cells to general housing cells.
The council also discussed increasing funding for community events like 4th of July and Winterfest, the impact of the region’s hot construction market on capital projects and strategies for parks and human services funding.
See www.kirklandwa.gov for more.
– Study sessions at 6 p.m. on Nov. 13 and Nov. 20 (if needed)
– Public hearings on the 2019-20 budget and preliminary property tax levy at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 20
– Adopt CIP, final property tax levy ordinance and 2019-2020 budget at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 11.