Financial forecast opens city’s budgeting season

Early projections reflect the $3 million loss in sales tax from the Cascade/Benson Hill annexation.

It’s the beginning of budgeting season for the city of Renton.

City staff have early projections for the next biennium, which reflects the $3 million loss in sales tax from the Cascade/Benson Hill annexation. However staff predicts the city can manage without increasing any taxes.

Financial manager Kari Roller presented the city’s financial forecast at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting and said the numbers are initial projects and are expected to change as the budget process continues for the rest of the year.

For 2019, projections show $100.1 million in revenue, $103.4 million in expenditure with an operating deficit of $3.3 million and an ending fund balance of $30 million.

Roller said these numbers are initial estimates and are based on “worst case scenarios.”

“(The projections for) 2019 is probably higher than it needs to be but we’re working on fine tuning those numbers,” she said.

When city staff was preparing the current biennium budget in 2016, Roller said the impending Benson Hill annexation was on their minds. Staff contemplated increasing the B&O tax to offset the loss of $3 million per year in sales tax.

“The good news is we don’t have to do that,” Roller said.

She said it would be an issue the city would have to keep a close eye on in the coming years.

Mayor Denis Law is set to present the budget message and preliminary budget to the City Council on Oct. 1.

Prior to Law presenting the budget to council, the Mayor’s Budget Advisory Committee is set to meet multiple times during the month of June to cook up a list of recommendations.

The city is required to hold three public hearings for the budget process. The first one was held during Monday City Council meeting. No comments or objections were raised. The second public hearing is scheduled during the Oct. 22 council meeting, and the third one at the Nov. 5 council meeting.

Following Law’s presentation of the budget, city departments will present their proposed budgets at the Committee of the Whole on Oct. 22. Council is expected to deliberate and adopt a committee report on Nov. 5.

The final reading and voting of all budget-related legislation is slated for Nov. 19.

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