On Tuesday evening, Redmond Mayor John Marchione presented his budget for the 2017-18 biennium to City Council.
The $695 million biennium budget is a 3.6 percent increase from the City of Redmond’s previous budget and goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017.
Marchione said the budget has four themes: preserving neighborhoods, keeping it green, investing in the future and organizational excellence.
When it comes to preserving neighborhoods, the mayor said one of the items added to the city’s budget is a full-time homeless outreach coordinator position. The position was initially part of a pilot program created as a result of the city’s homeless task force. Marchione said the position will now be fully funded through the budget.
The upcoming budget will also incorporate the Human Services Commission’s recommendations to increase support to the area’s human services agencies. Marchione said the city sets aside a dollar amount to go to the different organizations. For 20 years, that amount has been $6 per resident. In the new budget, he and city staff are proposing to increase that amount to about $7.50 per resident.
In addition, the budget proposes to convert four peace officers into police officers and a fifth peace officer into an evidence technician. Marchione said with the latter, the Redmond Police Department will have a greater capacity to process evidence, especially when it comes to property crime.
KEEPING IT GREEN
Under the umbrella of keeping the city green, Marchione has proposed to create two full-time positions — an engineer and an inspector — for low-impact development standards.
The budget also adds an employee to the city’s groundwater protection program. Marchione said 35 percent of the city’s water supply comes from wells, and the added employee will work with businesses to make sure they are managing and disposing of their hazardous materials properly.
The parks and recreation department will also have one additional parks maintenance employee. In addition, resources for supplies and equipment have increased. Marchione said these additions are to help the city manage its growing parks system, which include the upcoming Downtown Park.
The city will also double its contribution to the Green Redmond Partnership with Forterra. Work done through this partnership includes urban forest clean up to remove invasive species and planting trees.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
Investing in Redmond’s future means completing current construction projects as well as starting new ones.
Marchione said the two-way conversions in downtown will be completed in this biennium budget, as well as the Downtown Park.
The city will also work with other agencies on projects.
Redmond will work with the state to build an access ramp off of State Route 520 into the Overlake Village Neighborhood. Marchione said they will also work with Sound Transit and Microsoft to build bicycle and pedestrian overpasses at each of the Sound Transit stations — at the Overlake Transit Center and Overlake Village where the old Group Health site used to be.
In the upcoming budget, the city will also finish reviewing its city facilities plan.
Marchione said the city’s facilities include the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center, Redmond Senior Center, Hartman Pool, the city’s maintenance and operation facilities and more.
“It’s going to show us what we need to do and when,” he said, in terms of replacing, renovating and updating buildings.
Marchione said one of the things the city will do to improve as an organization is to build a customer service desk on the first floor of City Hall to ease the burden off of the permit desk on the second floor, which is where visitors are directed when they enter the building. The customer service desk is planned to be located under the stairs in the lobby, creating more active space on the first floor. In addition, City Hall’s current self-help desk will become computerized.
The city will also build out meeting rooms on the first floor.
“We’re stealing from Bellevue City Hall,” Marchione said about the concepts.
Redmond will also continue to implement “lean” logic in its operations to streamline processes and better serve customers.
Redmond’s parks and recreation and police departments will go through some small reorganizing to better address customer needs, as well.
BUDGETING BY PRIORITIES
Redmond’s budget was created using the Budgeting by Priorities process, which focuses on allocating funds based on the community’s priorities, which have been broken down into six categories: vibrant economy, clean and green, diverse and connected community, infrastructure, responsible government and safety.
Since January, there have been a number of ways for residents to participate, including an online web tool.
“We’ve been taking public input all year,” Marchione said.
In addition, a team of five resident volunteers formed the Civic Results Team to work with city staff on the various proposals in the budget and rank them high, medium or low, he said. This team met for eight Thursdays from late April to mid June.
The city will host the second public hearing on the 2017-18 budget at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 18 at Redmond City Hall, 15670 N.E. 85th St., during a regular City Council meeting. One more public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15. Residents can also voice their opinions about the budget at any regular council meeting during the “Items from the Audience” section on the first and third Tuesdays of the month.
Public comments regarding budget matters are conducted at public hearings or by emailing email@example.com. Comments will be collected up until budget adoption. Information about the city budget is available online at www.redmond.gov/budget.
Council will begin its study sessions on the budget on Oct. 20 and is scheduled to adopt it on Dec. 6.