Also, council hires consultant to study revised light rail route
The City Council Monday approved a 2011-12 operating budget that reduces spending while maintaining strong public safety, human service and other critical city programs.
Reflecting the recession's ongoing impact on revenues, the $800.4 million budget calls for reducing the city's workforce by 49 positions and spending by $16 million over the next two years.
"The recession has handed us an extremely challenging environment," City Manager Steve Sarkozy said. "But the budget adopted by the council is balanced, allows us to continue to provide a high level of services to the community and maintains our record of strong fiscal stewardship."
On Monday, council members once again underscored their commitment to human services funding at a time when such services are in high demand due to the recession.
In addition to maintaining funding for existing human services programs and services -- a position the council took early on in budget deliberations -- they voted to authorize an additional $224,000 in funding to help residents impacted by the recession.
Besides the operating budget, council members also adopted a 2011-2017 Capital Investment Program (CIP) plan that maintains commitments for the voter-approved Parks and Open Space Levy, and funds critical street improvement projects.
The CIP adopted totals $356.8 million. General tax revenues supporting the CIP were down $100 million from the previous CIP.
Despite the reduced operating budget and CIP, Bellevue entered the economic downturn better positioned than many municipalities due to its history of strong fiscal leadership and, in recent years, robust economic development.
Additionally, the city took strong steps at the outset of the recession to control costs, quickly implementing mandatory spending cuts and imposing a citywide hiring freeze.
City officials said that while it was necessary to reduce the city workforce due to declining tax revenues, impacts to the community will be lessened because most of the jobs eliminated are in internal administrative and support services.
Nevertheless, citizens will see and feel impacts, including a reduction in parks services, a reduction in neighborhood enhancement projects and some increases in business license and park fees.
On Monday night, the council voted to include $80,000 in additional arts funding, restore funding for two additional police officers and restore a fire aid car to 24-hour status.
Council members also approved water, sewer and storm water rate increases. The increases will allow the city to remain compliant with regulations, provide for growth and maintain, build and replace systems. Regional costs for water purchase and sewage treatment account for almost half of utilities costs, and are reflected in the rate increases.
Water rates will go up an average of 3.3 percent in 2011, and 7.9 percent in 2012. Storm water rates will increase 3.2 percent each year, and sewer rates will increase 8.9 percent in 2011and 1.5 percent in 2012.
The typical residential customer's monthly utilities costs will increase by about $7 in 2011, and $5 in 2012.
Feedback: Tim Waters, Communications Director, 425-452-4090, 206-619-8803 or email@example.com
Also, council hires consultant to study light rail route
Also on Monday the council awarded a contract to consulting firm Arup North America Ltd. to study a revised route alternative for the East Link light rail project.
The contract calls for paying Arup up to $670,723 for engineering and environmental work, and a "concept design report," on a light rail route called B7 Revised. The council voted 4-3 to award the contract.
The B7 Revised route is a variation on the council's preferred alternative, B7, a route that would roughly follow Interstate 90 east across Mercer Slough, then north along I-405 and the former BNSF railroad right of way toward downtown Bellevue.
Sound Transit's preferred light rail route runs north from I-90 along Bellevue Way and 112th Avenue Southeast toward downtown.
Once Arup completes the concept design report on B7 Revised, additional environmental and engineering work would be needed to bring the analysis up to a similar level as the various route alternatives already studied by Sound Transit.
Arup, which was selected over two other consulting firms, proposed completing its work in seven months. Along the way it will hold three public outreach events and check in with the council three times for progress reports.
For more information on the Arup contract, view the Council Study Session agenda item at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketStudySession12-6-102a.pdf
Feedback: Maher Welaye, Transportation Project Manager, 425-452-4879 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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