By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff

At the October 12 business meeting, Mayor Nicola Smith presented the Lynnwood City Council with a preliminary budget with general fund expenditures totaling $112,176,210.

The 2021-22 preliminary general fund budget is a reduction of $7,786,102, or a 6.4% reduction from budgeted 2019-20 general fund expenditures. To ensure a balanced budget, the city has planned for an equivalent reduction in expenditures to respond to an equivalent reduction in forecasted revenue.

The reductions mainly consist of delaying the rehire of vacant employee positions, reducing employee training and travel, reducing the use of professional services, and delaying purchases of non-essential equipment and supplies.

These measures are considered temporary and are likely to be discontinued when revenues return to stable, post-COVID conditions. The financial forecast indicates that the general fund reserves can be restored by the end of 2025, says Mayor Smith. In general, these reductions will affect levels of service but not eliminate services.

The budget will also execute long-term strategies to enhance how services are delivered, costing $1,375,825. Additions include implementing the consultant proposed reorganization of permitting inspection business licensing and more into the development of the Business Services Department. This includes creating and changing some job positions needed to appropriately serve the community, explained Smith.

To provide relief during the pandemic to the Lynnwood community, Mayor Smith’s budget proposes that the property tax levy remain the same as the 2020 levy.

The budget will also implement long-term strategies to enhance how services are delivered. The changes will support the city’s improvement and transformation to achieve its strategic goals, says Smith.

A city clerk program has been created within the Executive Department to streamline the delivery of related functions. Previously, city clerk-type services were dispersed amongst Administrative Services, Executive, and the Legislative Departments. This change is cost neutral.

City attorney services have been added to department budgets based upon historical patterns; meaning they will now pay for the legal services they use. This reduces the Legal Department budget and increases department budgets equivalently, so there is no net impact upon the General Fund.

To elevate the city’s commitment to increasing equity, removing barriers, and improving social justice for all, Mayor Smith says she will be implementing an Equity and Social Justice program within the Executive Department to replace the vacant Intergovernmental Relations program. This is cost neutral as well.

“Every budget is a challenging undertaking because of the opportunities and constraints unique to that time,” said Smith. “This year has brought numerous challenges including the severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, arising calls to address racial inequity and social justice, a recessionary economy, and a myriad of social conditions that threaten the well-being of our community.

“In the face of all this turmoil, Lynnwood remains strong, strategic, and resilient, and we have many attributes that are helping to keep our city steady,” continued Smith.

A public hearing on the detailed preliminary budget is planned for November 9, with the adoption of the budget and 2021 property tax levy scheduled for the evening of November 23.

Future Lynnwood City Council Business Meetings, Work Sessions and Committee Meetings can be streamed live by the public at https://www.you- tube.com/user/CityofLynnwood/live.

Erin Freeman

I graduated from Washington State University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in rhetoric and professional writing. I also received a minor in political science. I joined the Lynnwood Times in February of 2020. To me, community newspapers affirm a sense of community by connecting people through the coverage of local stories and current events.

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