Maple Valley considers eliminating positions to close projected budget shortfall

The city of Maple Valley is strapped for cash, according to City Manager David Johnston.

Possible solutions for a projected budget shortfall could include the elimination of the community development director and the city attorney.

Some of the suggested cuts seem small and easy, such as $8,500 spent on a volunteer appreciation dinner. Others, however, would involve not hiring a police services officer, a position which was recently vacated.

The more significant suggestions Johnston made would, if adopted by the council, merge the community development department with the public works department. The community development director position could be cut as a result.

Another possibility could eliminate the staff city attorney position in favor of contracting, something cities like Covington have done. These two changes would save the city, according to Johnston, $120,000 and $85,000 per year respectively.

In a letter to the City Council, Johnston wrote that a change in development projections knocked the budget balance out by $568,000.

This shortfall occurred, according to Johnston, when staff realized the city’s projection of 150 single family permits per year for six years, a total of 900, was impossible given that the city only has 559 plats left. This caused staff to readjust their projections to less than 88 permits per year. While $148,000 of the shortfall would be covered by a proposed transportation benefit district currently under consideration by the council, this still leaves $420,000.

On the other hand, 2012 has seen a high number of single family permits, 142 compared to the 70 permits projected during the budget process. This also means, however, there will be less lots available to generate revenue for next year’s budget.

If an average of 88 lots are sold each year, the city could issue all permits available by the year 2019.

Johnston stated in a telephone interview that unless this shortfall is balanced out in this upcoming budget, it will continue each year.

At the same time, Finance Director Tony McCarthy stated at the council’s Nov. 5 meeting the city is expected to be under budget for this year and over budget in revenue, thanks to a surge in construction sales tax revenue.

McCarthy warned, however, this revenue is not to be expected for 2013.

According to the report, the city’s revenue is expected to be 10 percent above budget at the end of the year, with $13.96 million budgeted compared to $15.4 million actual.

The general fund is expected to be seven percent above budget.



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