December 8, 2008 · Updated 1:05 PM
This time around, the City of Redmond budget sparked a standing ovation, rather than a swirl of controversy.
City Councilmembers unanimously adopted Mayor John Marchione’s final 2009-10 budget and then gave the city finance staff a standing ovation at last week’s city council meeting, showing appreciation for the openness and efficiency of this year’s budget process.
Remember, there was more slapping than clapping taking place during the last budget process.
Kudos to Marchione, who, when elected in January, wanted to avoid the bad budget buzz that occurred two years ago under former mayor Rosemarie Ives. Many Redmond residents will recall the last budget cycle created a lot of divisiveness among councilmembers and Ives.
This time around, everyone – including the all-important taxpayers – were in the loop before the budget was built.
Right after he was sworn in, Marchione implemented the innovative Budget by Priorities (BP) process, which gathered residents’ opinions during a series of community meetings on how they wanted their tax dollars spent. The priorities were weighed and then the appointed Results Teams looked at how the most-requested services and programs could be delivered with the greatest cost efficiency.
While there will always be critics and naysayers, we say this year’s budget is fiscally responsible with an eye towards future development. Councilmembers even passed a one percent property tax by a 5-2 vote to maintain basic city services and help pay for voter-approved levies and debts required by law.
There’s no question that some will disagree with the budget and think a tax increase – even a minimal one – is tough on the residents during these bleak economic times.
But if Redmond wants to maintain its basic infrastructure while building for the future, a small tax increase is justified.
Many disagree with certain parts of the budget, but this time around, everyone can agree that the overall process was vastly improved and, most importantly, the residents were informed every step of the way.
First-term councilmember Hank Margeson summed it up best.
“The budget is not perfect. There are things we’d like to add or subtract … but it’s been very open, transparent and does reflect the interests of the community.”