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Yelm councilors request revenue loss data for planning,
* If 2009 is prologue, city’s essential services will see cutbacks,
* Suggestions to prepare your family for more challenges!

Will Yelm soon look like Reading, PA. on April 25, where people wait in line for food downtown?
Credit: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images


  • At the May 5th Yelm Study Session, several members of the city council asked Mayor Foster to present them with revenue data to determine how a projected revenue loss will affect the city’s budget.
  • With the city administrator telling the Yelm Council last week that revenue was all on track and with no plan presented to mitigate the city’s coming revenue drop, Councilors Carmody, Stillwell and Wood requested the mayor provide the council data.
  • Councilor Carmody requested the Finance Committee needs to virtually reconvene, needs bonds status, “rainy-day fund” balance, etc.
  • Councilor Stillwell brilliantly articulated that if the city has a 10% revenue loss to-date, then the $700,000-$1,000,000 in reserves of the city’s $7 million budget could already be stressed.
  • Stillwell gave a scenario that if revenue was down 10% to-date, then a 20% decline would not be out of the question by the end of May when shelter-in-place ends.
  • Mayor Foster reported the Nisqually Tribe’s casino “fired” 70% of their casino staff, and when they re-open, there will be a different look. [Ed. note: Yelm can no longer expect to receive funding gifts from the Tribe in the foreseeable future!]

  • Editor’s note: Several councilors indicated how their constituents are in financial distress. William Galston, a senior fellow in governance at the Brookings Institution, in a March interview with CNBC said, “When tens of millions of families are having difficulty and experiencing personal pain, you can’t tell them the sky is blue when it’s green.”
  • That is valid here in Yelm, as well – Transparency IS key!
  • The council was informed last week the city is on-track in Capital Project expenditures, which all should be frozen now, as the city will need to conserve cash to fund essential services, i.e. police, water, sewer. Mayor Harding was forced to cut staff in 2009, including a police officer. And the 2009 recession was mild in comparison to today!
  • Mayor Foster told a recent webinar that the city will be in a tough spot in 3-6 months if revenues go down significantly. Even if/when the city gets some federal aid, that will not be enough.
  • Yet there has been no plan publicly presented if one exists.
  • Yelm councilors need to be proactive!
  • Last night, the over-arching councilor comments were for transparency and openness in city government.
  • These headlines echo the councilors’ concerns:

Steep reduction in state revenues projected through mid-2023

Projected Olympia budget shortfall caused by COVID-19 exceeds $10 million [11.7% drop]

Lacey adjusts budget after slower economy tied to COVID-19 blows $6 million hole in it [11% drop]

Prepare Your Family For The Worst

No one has lived through this sort of intentional, pandemic-driven, extensive economic contraction. Even a war zone differs because of the extensive physical and infrastructure damage that could require a virtual from-scratch restart. We’re somewhere between inconvenience and incapacitation. The best move is likely to assume the worst and prepare accordingly:

·        Free up cash as much as you can. Skip offers from companies to send in money and get a better deal or higher volume at improved prices or anything else. The reason they’re doing so is because they want to get as much cash as possible.

·        One exception to the above is if you and some friends or neighbors need a given type of product or good and might get lower per-item costs by bundling orders through a retailer, wholesaler, or other outlet.

·        Go through bills and credit card and bank statements and look for monthly charges that you may not realize are still there. (Someone I know cut $120 a month in items that has become forgotten.)

·        Call service providers of all sorts and ask how to reduce costs. Companies don’t tend to inform you when less expensive options come available because they’d rather continue to take your money.

·        Ask credit card, mortgage, and other such accounts what they can do for you. It may be nothing or you might be able to negotiate lower fees or rates. In the case of some credit card companies I spoke with, help was limited to putting off a few payments as a one-time action for COVID-19-related issues—good to know if situations get extremely tight, but best to keep in a back pocket for an emergency.

By Erik Sherman, Forbes. Read more

Posted by Steve on May 6, 2020 at 12:10 am | Permalink

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