9611 SE 36th Street
Mercer Island, WA 98040
History of Council Budget Deliberations
The Council’s adopted Goal #4 for 2017-2018 is: Maintain Quality of Life Services by Addressing the City’s Financial Challenges.
Prior Council and staff efforts to address these financial challenges are summarized below.
Council Mini-Planning Session (6/11/16)
At the Council's Mini-Planning Session on June 11, 2016, the Mayor created two Council levy lid lift committees to explore the possibility of going to the voters with an operating levy lid lift and/or a capital levy lid lift request in 2017 or 2018. The need for an operating levy lid lift is directly tied to the projected deficits in the General Fund and Youth & Family Services (YFS) Fund. The need for a capital levy lid lift is directly tied to unfunded and partially funded capital projects, many of which are included in the 2017-2022 Capital Improvement Program (CIP).
Operating Levy Committee Deliberations (Aug-Sep 2016)
The Operating Levy Committee, which consisted of Deputy Mayor Debbie Bertlin and Council members Dave Wisenteiner and Jeff Sanderson, met in August-September 2016 to review/discuss the following: 1) 2017-2023 forecasts for the General Fund and YFS Fund (and the projected deficits); 2) other operating needs of the City (0.5 FTE Communications Specialist, a 0.5 FTE Youth Development Coordinator, and additional funding for fire apparatus replacement); 3) budget balancing options; and 4) public engagement process.
Capital Levy Committee Deliberations (Aug-Sep 2016)
The Capital Levy Committee, which consisted of Council members Dan Grausz, Benson Wong, and Wendy Weiker, met in August-September 2016 to review a preliminary list of unfunded and partially funded capital projects put together by Parks Superintendent Paul West. These projects were primarily related to parks, trails, pedestrian & bicycle facilities, and public buildings. The purpose of this preliminary project list was twofold. One, it was intended to help the Council determine whether a capital levy lid lift was warranted given the need for an operating levy lid lift. Two, it was intended to provide a “starting point” for a community stakeholder group, which would be organized and tasked with reviewing and vetting the City’s capital funding needs and making a recommendation to the Council on what to include in a capital levy lid lift ballot measure.
Council Micro-Planning Session (9/30/16)
At its September 30, 2016 Micro-Planning Session, the full Council was briefed on the deliberations of each Committee, the timelines for two election date options, the types of levy lid lifts, and six key questions along with staff’s recommendation for each question. Click to view the 9/30/16 staff memorandum and the 9/30/16 meeting minutes from the Council Micro-Planning Session. The preliminary list of potential capital levy lid lift projects noted above is attached as Exhibit 1 to the staff memorandum. This preliminary list was later expanded following the Council’s direction to staff at the Micro-Planning Session to include other unfunded capital projects, especially those focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of services. Click to view the expanded preliminary list. Note that a number of newly added projects lack cost estimates, and none of the newly added projects have been prioritized by staff.
Adopted 2017-2018 Budget (12/5/16)
An updated, comprehensive review of the projected General Fund and YFS Fund deficits and their primary drivers, the other operating funding needs, the capital project funding challenges, the operating and capital funding options, and the recommended path forward are contained in the Budget Message of the adopted 2017-2018 Budget. Click to see the Budget Message.
Council Planning Session (2/4/17)
At its February 4, 2017 Planning Session, the Council was briefed on City Manager Julie Underwood’s levy lid lift experience at the City of Shoreline, a revised public engagement plan and timeline, the revised timelines for two new election date options, and three key questions along with staff’s recommendation for each question. Click to see the 2/4/17 staff memorandum and the 2/4/17 meeting minutes from the Council Planning Session.
City Council Meeting (7/17/17)
At its July 17, 2017 Regular Meeting, the Council approved staff’s recommended public engagement plan on the City’s financial challenges. Click to read AB 5332 regarding the public engagement plan.
In August 2017, staff discovered that a six-year levy lid lift with annual increases greater than 1% can only be placed on an August or November ballot, not a February ballot. This oversight, while not critical, caused the City Manager and the Finance Director to press the “pause button” and to re-look at the public engagement process timeline.
City Council Meeting (9/5/17)
At its September 5, 2017 Regular Meeting, the City Council approved staff's recommendation to push out the public engagement process from September-October 2017 to October 2017-April 2018, thereby moving forward a potential ballot measure to the November 2018 general election. Click to read AB 5340
regarding the revised public engagement plan.