Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740
Monday, October 4, 2021 at 4:15 p.m.
Mayor Nadine Woodward released a preliminary draft 2022 priority-based budget today that prioritizes funding for public safety, homelessness, housing, and economic development and maintains core service levels while balancing ongoing revenue impacts caused by the pandemic.
Woodward proposed increased spending on investments in police officer training, an in-field partnership between officers and behavioral health specialists, reducing wait times for police public records requests, supporting victims of violent crime and human trafficking, additional downtown and neighborhood cleanup resources, and staffing to support decreasing residential permit times and increases in housing supply. She also proposed organizational investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion, public access to government, and prioritizing and enhancing cyber security needs.
“We have taken a cautious and thoughtful approach to spending to meet service expectations while being realistic about the continuing revenue impacts resulting from the pandemic,” Woodward said. “The investments you see are strategic, modest, and in many cases a first step.”
Revenue projections for 2022 provide mixed news. While the nearly $215.6 million in forecasted revenue for the General Fund represents a 5.9 percent increase over currently projected 2021 revenue, it is still $5.3 million short of the pre-COVID revenue trend.
“My Administration and this Council have built on the good fiscal stewardship of the previous Administration and Councils, which prioritized healthy reserves and careful spending controls,” Woodward said. “That organizational discipline allowed us to maintain services the community counts on even during the pandemic impacts.”
Woodward will continue work on the budget over the next few weeks to release a final proposed budget on November 1. That will include continuing discussions with the City Council to work further on common priorities and remaining open items and talk about funding strategies that are consistent with organizational budgeting principles that assign one-time money only to one-time expenses and living within the City’s means.
Woodward hosted an economic summit with councilmembers in June to discuss revenue projections and priorities and presented a trial budget in August. Those discussions continued during regular meetings of the mayor and Administration representatives with individual councilmembers over the summer.
She will focus in particular on a handful of key discussion points, including further refinement of allocations to homelessness resources, sustainable fire dispatch operations, and protecting City finances from continued pandemic impact, and strategic uses of federal pandemic relief funds to cover one-time City needs or bridge funding gaps.
Four budget workshops are planned with the City Council throughout October. Workshops begin on October 14. Additional workshops are planned on October 15, 19, and 22.
“It is important that we continue to follow our strategy of being smart and strategic with the community’s money so that we are well-prepared for economic recovery,” Woodward said. “Disciplined prioritization will set us up for long-term success.”