SPOKANE-- Spokane Mayor David Condon released his initial budget draft for 2013 Wednesday, which includes overcoming a projected shortful, as well as layoffs.
The Mayor’s initial budget proposal holds expenses at the 2012 level and overcomes a projected shortfall of nearly $10 million. The proposal does not use reserves to balance the city’s operating budget and begins the process of separating out capital expenses from operations.
The proposal eliminates the expected annual property tax increase and limits utility increases. Spokane will have a 3.5 percent increase in utility rates, meaning the typical household will pay about $3.60 more per month, compared to the $12 a month increase previously projected for 2013, according to the city.
The budget will use a new format that focuses on the cost of providing each service and program. It will use a visual, statistical “dashboard” for each department and division that compares growth in costs with median household income. Performance measure information for most departments will be included for the first time. These measures are designed to help citizens determine the success of city services and programs.
The proposal will eliminate 100 positions, including 65 that are vacant. The city says reorganizing will gain efficiency and reduce duplication. Some positions and programs will be moved to new partners outside of the city. These 100 jobs include various departments, including management.
As the budget stands Wednesday, the city would not lay off any police officers or firefighters. The mayor believes it is vital to keep all current police officers, in particular, to avoid any further erosion of services.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL 2013 BUDGET PROPOSAL.
Community and Neighborhood Services Division would also see some changes. Operations of East Central Community Center will be transferred to a non-profit group elminating 12 city employee positions.
Vacant positions within both of the large public safety departments are being eliminated. The city has open contracts with the Police Guild and the Local 29. The final outcome on those contracts could lead to changes in the budget proposal.
“Service to the citizens is fundamental, and this document ultimately sets our work plan and priorities for the coming year,” Mayor Condon said. “We are releasing this initial budget proposal early in a brand new way. We’re focusing on the cost of providing each program and service and offering information on how to track our success.”
The administration will provide briefings on various aspects of the budget to the City Council throughout August and into the fall on Thursday afternoons. The Mayor’s formal, line-item budget proposal will be presented on Oct. 8, earlier than the statutorily required submittal date of Nov. 1. The council will hold public hearings on the budget before its adoption.