“Poor planning led to budget woes”
“Reduced sales-tax revenue, depleted reserves and inflation exceeding property-tax growth have had a corrosive effect on Thurston County’s 2009 budget, leaving a $4 million hole…
Commissioner Diane Oberquell said that when she and the other two commissioners approved “unmet needs” expenses and “budget extensions” between November 2006 and December 2007, she thought there was enough slack in the budget to cover it. At the time, the county had built up reserves after rapid growth from 2004 to 2006, when new-home construction and extra consumer spending were keeping sales-tax revenues up.
Oberquell says it might have been better for the county to start cutting expenses earlier, rather than spend from reserves last fall,” quoting The Olympian.
This writer received an email from a reader in response to the June 12 entry about the County’s budget shortfall, asking if Yelm is going down the same primrose lane.
While The Olympian wrote last week, “Unlike cities, counties do not collect business and occupation taxes, because the state Growth Management Act concentrates businesses in the urban areas, Oberquell added,” where does Yelm stand?
Let’s take a look:
1. On the revenue (income) side:
Revenues to cities & the county from sales taxes are down (consumers spending less), new home construction is way off, so permit fee income is way down, homes sales have slowed, so excise taxes and property sales tax income ARE way down. Then, area property values are going down here finally, leading to less taxes collected from lower home values for those that do sell.
2. On the expenses side
Fuel prices have gone through the roof. While Tumwater shifted to electric cars for meter patrols, as an example, Yelm has gas-guzzling vans, trucks and large vehicles for their city’s needs.
Prices for food & fuel nationwide are leading to inflation, which means that prices are going up in most every sector of the economy, while consumer spending is declining, which means a city has to budget for the loss of sales taxes.
As an example in Yelm, current road work now involves rising steel prices for the rebar for construction, asphalt for petroleum products, concrete, and fuel for machinery, which have all gone far beyond the $65 a barrel oil cost when Yelm did it’s budget last Fall — now at near $140 today. Do you think any city or county budgeted for any of this.
I am on the record on this Blog last year warning about this very issue and on Beyond the Ordinary internet radio, which is archived for all to hear.
Now, where is Yelm’s City Council going to get the dollars for all of these announced projects?
– a new City Hall,
– a new Yelm Community Recreation Center,
– land/building for a new Yelm Timberland Regional Library, which MUST be housed in a public facility after July, 2012. The City Council knew in November, 2001 that Timberland gave the city a 10 year exemption to rent space for the library in a privately owned building and did nothing to procure land in all of that time to be in a public facility in 2012.
– Yelm Community Schools announced need for public money for High School classroom in the next 3 1/2+ years? This on top of operation levies that barely pass already.
Yelm’s City Council just raised water prices on their citizens to the heavens to pay for their folly, as they don’t have enough water for all of the homes they permitted. The city is quoted in the June 13 NVN saying this is not about raising money, it’s about conservation. You bet your sweet bippy it’s not about raising money, as the city must force its water users to conserve, because the city is out of water to support all of the people it agreed to serve — and they all know it. So, raise the prices (coercion) to get public consumption down so the city can save its bum and get by this summer. And this does not include the 1,000 new home applications that the city has approved and have not been built and hooked-up to city water as of yet.
When I asked the city about where the money for all of these new projects will originate, Ms. Teixeira said that will be determined in the Fall, 2008 budgeting sessions. HMMM!
This city is spending money like there is no tomorrow; from a $300,000+ reclaimed water line to Longmire Park to $50,000 for a lobbyist for the Yelm Bypass to name a few.
Will this town be requiring layoffs soon, like the county? Or issuing bonds? Or more taxes on its citizens’ backs?
On the state side, if Gov. Gregoire asks this state to raise the gas tax again to make up for the shortfall in road tax revenue from less gallons-of-gas consumption, she will be voted out of office big time.
THERE IS A PERFECT STORM BREWING IF YELM HAS NOT PLANNED FOR THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, JUST LIKE WITH THE COUNTY!
DOESN’T THIS DEMAND YOU TO SPEAK UP NOW AND ASK ABOUT YELM, AND NOT WHEN YOU GET THE TAX BILL OR THE STORY THAT SERVICES ARE BEING CUT?