Yelm Public Safety Building & City Council Chambers
MAYOR HARDING’S & THE YELM CITY COUNCIL’S LACK OF ACTION ON CUTTING CITY EXPENSES TO BE IN-LINE WITH LOWER REVENUES REQUIRES LAYOFFS!
This is an “I TOLD YOU SO” ENTRY!
From this week’s NVN,
“Responding to a tight economy, the City of Yelm is eliminating half a dozen positions, a move expected to save more than $820,000.
A six-month review of the citys financial status showed revenue projections are on target. However, when preparing the budget, the city estimated low, hoping revenue would actually be higher than projected, said Mayor Ron Harding.
The city was also drawing from its financial reserves to maintain its current level of service.
Reserves have decreased by $250,283 this year.
As of June 30, the citys operating cash and investments fund has about $900,000.
‘We cant continue to budget that way,’ Harding said. ‘Weve got to cut expenses…’
Six positions will be eliminated, effective Thursday, Sept. 30, he said…
The city anticipated some staff cuts, but thought it wouldnt be until the end of 2009, Harding said.”
THIS WRITER WARNED MAYOR HARDING & THE CITY COUNCIL ON-THE-RECORD NOVEMBER 25, 2008 THAT THEIR REVENUE PROJECTION FORECASTS WERE NOT STEEP ENOUGH – TO TAKE A LOOK AT THURSTON COUNTY’S SEVERE BUDGET DEFICIT AND START TO CUT EXPENSES THEN.
OF COURSE, MY EFFORTS FELL ON DEAF EARS AT CITY HALL, AS PER USUAL AND NOW THEY ARE FORCED INTO A MAJOR LAYOFF MODE, CUTTING 2 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT POSITIONS, THE COMMUNITY & GOVERNMENT RELATIONS COORDINATOR (WHOM I EXPECT TO SEE BACK AT THE NVN AS A REPORTER, FROM WHERE SHE CAME), TWO POSITIONS IN PUBLIC WORKS, ONE POLICE OFFICER AND ANOTHER VACANT POLICE OFFICER POSITION THAT WILL NOT BE FILLED.
Quoting the Yelm Community Blog entry of December 6, 2008:
“6. The City of Yelm 2009-2010 budget hearing is still open until Dec. 9th for public input. I told the Council on Nov. 25th that a revenue reduction of the General Fund of 15% is not enough with a contracting economy that has a long way to go before hitting bottom with home prices, home sales, sales tax revenue, building permit starts, home assessments and property taxes all falling through the floor. They should be looking at a 25% reduction or more to protect their ability to provide services in the future to Yelm residents.
These are serious matters that require the Mayor and City Council to be up-front with the taxpayers of Yelm and vicinity as we all navigate increasingly stormy waters.”
Quoting the Yelm Community Blog entry of March 3, 2009:
“As reported here on February 10th, Mayor Ron Harding told the Yelm Chamber Forum in his State of the City Address,
‘If the economy continues a decline, we’ll have to assess service cuts by year’s end.
Revenues were up only 3% in 2008; we expected higher.
We did fall quite a bit short with revenue last year
We are expecting a continuing economic decline.'”
WHY DID THE MAYOR NOT THEN RECOMMEND ADJUSTMENTS TO THE LOWER REVENUE PROJECTIONS?
From the Yelm Community Blog entry of April 27, 2009:
“Now, with the $400,000 authorized by the State Legislature for new Longmire Park toilets added to the $408,800 previously appropriated by the city, do you think this is a good time to be spending almost $1,000,000 in taxpayer money for water and toilets at a ballpark that might get used 3 months out of a year?
While I applaud the efforts of Rep. Campbell and our State Legislature, is this REALLY a wise appropriation when we’re laying off state workers and cutting essential medical and elderly care programs, as an example? …
While maybe not occurring in Yelm as of yet, how would you like to be employed by the city and told that your job is to be cut, yet we’re going to spend a million bucks to have flush toilets at the Ball Park? That is where this is heading, and sooner rather than later!”
ALL OF THIS WAS EXPECTED AND ON-THE-RECORD 9 MONTHS AGO, WHILE THE CITY DID NOTHING UNTIL A CASH CRISIS WAS ALMOST AT-HAND!
Look for more taxes & less services, with two less police officers, less staff at Public Works & the Community Relations job cut (after just completing a new office for her).
As Mayor Harding told the NVN,
“The city is also looking at increasing its B&O tax on utilities, which affects the tax of cable television, electricity, gas and telephone.
Currently residents are taxed 4 percent, but could be taxed up to 6 percent.”
With several noted economists warning of a further downturn this Fall, the City of Yelm is not in good shape to weather much more revenue drops without cutting back on city services. Look for more cuts by Christmas!