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Status quo budget seen in Bellevue |Economy’s slow recovery means no cuts to services or any tax increases, layoffs

The Bellevue City Council on Monday got its first look at a preliminary “status quo” 2013-2014 budget, which includes just incremental growth. The economy’s slow recovery means no cuts in services are in the draft budget, a marked contrast from 2011 and early this year, when Bellevue’s budget was “reset” and shrank by $24 million.

The general fund, which covers core services such as police, fire, transportation and parks, is budgeted to grow 4.4 percent in 2013 and 3.2 percent in 2014. The council will begin discussing the preliminary 2013-2014 operating and 2013-2019 capital budgets next week, and will likely continue that discussion until they adopt the budgets in December.

Public outreach continues, with the third and last public hearing concerning the budget set for Nov. 19. At Mayor Conrad Lee’s request, people invited by the council will participate in a focus group in November (date to be determined) concerning the budget.

Highlights from the preliminary budget include:

No general tax increases or layoffs proposed;

New programs related to economic growth and competitiveness.

Advances for many of the city’s most important capital needs, including parks levy projects, the Mobility and Infrastructure Initiative and East Link commitments; and

proposed utility rate increases to fund regional wholesale cost increases and improvements needed to maintain service levels and system integrity; as well as proposed Development Services rate increases to ensure fees match the cost of providing services.

The preliminary Capital Investment Program (CIP) budget includes $6.2 million reserved for emerging, high-priority capital needs for economic development and neighborhoods.

Overall, the draft capital and operating budgets total $1.29 billion for 2013 and 2014.

The preliminary budget is available at www.bellevuewa.gov/budgets.htm.

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