At several meetings this month city staff has been saying they need more funding for fire than what is presently allocated. I get it. Our population is growing; and Fire Station 12, which serves the burgeoning Overlake urban center and Rose Hill, Grass Lawn and View Point neighborhoods needs remodeling and expansion. No doubt we’ll need a new fire station in Overlake some day, as well. Fire is drawing up a six-year master plan for these needs.
No doubt accommodating fire’s needs will require significant funding so the city is planning a new safety levy to pay for it. But, do we need a levy? No!
At council’s June 25 committee meeting, finance director Malisa Files reported the city is in excellent financial shape: “Department budgets [like fire] are running well and there’s really no issues in our funds.” She went onto say, “revenues are up by 17 percent, from sales tax and development revenue.”
Ms. Files has been reporting high revenue growth for well over a year with no end in sight. Even more impactful, Ms. Files reported, “we expect $20 million in property tax income over the next year.” If that’s not enough, the city has a Responsible Government priority from which it can tap $31,707,604 from their “operation reserves!”
Fiscal stewardship should be expected of a responsible government; allocations to fire and police should be priority No. 1. Our exceptional present and future revenues and “smart prioritizing” of other services should get us to our fire goals without the need for a safety levy. When the levy is one day proposed, please vote “no.”