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City Budget Updates & Stuff
During its Tuesday study session this week, the Tacoma City Council heard updates on City financial performance in 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, and looking forward to the rest of 2014 and the 2015-2016 budget cycle. While budget presentations are by nature pretty dry stuff, and the sunshine this week is causing us to be prone to cat naps as it is, we did manage to glean a few interesting items from the presentation.
To start with, the overall picture as shared by budget staff seems fairly favorable.
Both revenues and expenditures for the first quarter of 2014 had an overall favorable variance from forecast numbers. The City saw about $1.1 million more revenues than expected, and about $1.7 million less in expenditures - largely thanks to savings from Tacoma Police and Fire.
Looking forward to the 2015-2016 budget, the outlook is a little more mixed. In what staff emphasized are extremely preliminary numbers, the forecast is that Tacoma's "current service structural gap" looks like it will be somewhere in the ballpark of $8 million to $12 million for the biennium. In other words, that's the expected size of the shortfall for the two-year budget, if the City continues to provide services at current levels. While that's not great, it is significantly lower than the $26 million shortfall that we were on track for when the budget was reviewed back in June of 2013.
Of course those numbers are still a work in progress, and revisions are possible. Also not included in those calculations are certain deferred maintenance items that may need attention soon. Among those are City IT, its fleet, and the Tacoma Dome and other municipal facilities.
But now for the really exciting stuff. A possible use for some the net favorable variances the City has found itself with is to allocate $550,000 for vehicle and pedestrian safety improvements leading up to the US Open in 2015; $390,000 for improvements around South 56th between I-5 and Orchard Street, and $160,000 for improvements around South 13th and Pacific in downtown Tacoma - kind of where the Luzon used to stand.
The Council study session also featured an update on the City's historic preservation efforts...
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