City Council passes budget modifications and property tax levy ordinance
Luke Putvin | Lynnwood Times
At the November 25 business meeting, the Lynnwood City Council passed 2019-2020 budget modifications and a 2020 property tax levy ordinance. Both were modified slightly from the last time they were proposed at the November 12 business meeting, where many citizens criticized the $15,800 line item for “email addresses, business cards and name tags for 60 members” for the Board and Commission Volunteers. Councilmember responses at that meeting expressed the need to protect the city’s volunteers in the case of a public records request.
“I’m curious why getting nametags and emails for 60 people is going to cost $15,800 dollars; if I do the math that is $263 per person,” said Kerri Lonergan-Dreke. “I run a small business, which essentially is like a nonprofit… so I’m very frugal when I make these kinds of purchases, and I know that it should not be costing that much money for emails.”
Sonja Springer, Finance Director, presented the changes at the November 25 meeting.
“Since the [November 12 public hearing], we have determined that there are less expensive ways to accommodate the email address issue, so the mayor has taken that off the table for request for budget modifications,” Springer said.
“Also, there was some concern about the amount of property tax… so what we’re proposing to do is decrease the property tax… by $100,000. In order to do that, we have to decrease the expenditures of the general fund by the same amount: $100,000,” she continued.
As a result, the two changes from the November 12 meeting were the omission of the $15,800 for emails and other items as well as a subtraction of $100,000 from the general fund in order to accommodate the reduction of the property tax.
“Thank you to everyone that came to our public hearing and voiced your concerns,” said Councilmember Ian Cotton. “And thank you to staff and the mayor for listening and for finding ways to reduce in the spending so that we could reduce our expenditures so that we could reduce the amount of taxation we’re reviewing.”
Goodwin also spoke to why the original amount for the emails for the boards and commission members was as high as it was; it had to do with purchasing email licenses from the company the city gets its emails from.
This change to the property tax levy means that the levy rate will remain at $0.57 per $1,000; this is the same rate as 2019, so the rate itself will not increase. According to Springer’s report, there will be an estimated 7% increase in the value of the average home in Lynnwood. This means that, even though the rate itself will not increase, the average homeowner’s property tax will be slightly higher than last year’s when accounting for property value.
Additionally, the Snohomish County Assessor’s office said reported that there is a 6.96% increase in total assessed value for all taxable property in the city. The estimate of assessed taxable property is $7,503,483,372, an increase from 2019’s assessed value of $7,015,500,457. $51,675,300 of that was due to new construction.
“Thank you for hearing us and going back and researching and brainstorming about this,” Councilmember Shannon Sessions said. “I don’t think we can necessarily do this every time, every year, but I think we have come to the conclusion that we can this year, and so for goodwill, why don’t we?” Sessions reiterated her gratitude toward Springer for the amount of time she put into the changes.
The next City Council Business Meeting will be on December 9. At that meeting, there will be a public hearing regarding Northline Village development. The meeting will be at city hall at 7:00 p.m.