The City is currently working toward - and committed to - developing and adopting a fiscally-sound, balanced budget for the 2019-2020 biennium. On October 1, the Mayor will formally present his proposed budget, following Council review of each department's preliminary budget during committee meetings over the next two months. The Council will deliberate and adopt the final City budget by the end of the year.
All levels of government are currently facing budgetary challenges due to a variety of consequential factors. According to our preliminary analysis of the 2019/2020 budget, Tukwila will as well. Sales tax, which makes up more than 1/3 of our revenue, has flattened, and revenue growth is not keeping pace with the cost of ongoing expenditures. Additionally, the State funding of sales tax mitigation, which was established to compensate cities like Tukwila hard-hit by the change to destination-based sales tax, will end by 2020. This results in a $1.4 million shortfall to the next biennial budget.
When the City began experiencing these challenges this year, all of the departments cooperatively initiated a 3% underspend to align their expenditures with the updated revenue forecasts. While continuing to maintain its services, the City has already realized savings and is on track for reducing expenditures to match anticipated revenues.
In order to address the shortfall, the City is examining several things to help it produce a balanced budget:
- Reduction of ongoing expenses: Each department has been asked to identify a 3% budget reduction in 2019 and 2020.
- Exploring additional revenue options: The Administration is studying what, if any, additional non-voter-approved revenue options could be available to the City.
- Priority-Based Budgeting: The City's implementation of Priority-Based Budgeting (PBB) will help the Administration, Council and staff better understand how department and program budgets align with City priorities, as well as identifying areas that could be considered for reduction in services. PBB takes time to implement, and will be a multi-year process to fully achieve all of the benefits of this effort.
At this point, no decisions have been made. There will be significant opportunities for community input over the coming months, including Council Committee, Committee of the Whole and regular Council meetings, digital engagement via social media and the website, and by other means. Both the Administration and Council are genuinely committed to a cooperative approach to the budget, which includes input and ideas from the community, staff and other stakeholders. The City will be transparent in all of its decision-making, and steadfast in providing ongoing, comprehensive communications regarding the budget as it is developed and deliberated.