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Bellevue OKs budget with no new taxes
The Bellevue City Council passed its next biennium’s budget Monday night, voting 5-2 in favor. Capital and operating budgets will total $1.29 billion for 2013 and 2014, after small adjustments were made at the Nov. 26 meeting.
Councilmembers Claudia Balducci and John Chelminiak voted against the budget, saying that it didn’t go far enough.
“What was a little different about last night, was two councilmembers voted no for a different reason, which was that the budget didn’t go far enough in their minds,” said assistant city manager, Myrna Basich. “…It’s not unusual to not have an unanimous budget, but I’d say this was more along the lines of a philosophical difference of opinion.”
The 2013-2019 Capital Investment Program budget will include $6.2 million reserved for economic and neighborhood projects. No tax increases or layoffs were made under what was repeatedly labeled a “status quo” budget. And the general fund is expected to grow by 4.4 percent next year, and 3.2 percent the following year.
“It’s not status quo,” Chelminiak rebuked at Monday’s meeting. “I think we’re going backwards…We’re the implementing committee, and if you ask: Do we have the political will to implement what we need to do? The answer from this budget is not yet. That’s bothersome to me.”
Balducci echoed her colleague, saying that the city needed to return to long-range financial planning.
Mayor Conrad Lee countered, saying that he was proud the council had found a plan that didn’t raise taxes, while meeting the city’s goals.
“This is the result of an amazing effort by city staff, city council leadership and public support,” said Lee.
Despite varied support for the budget, nearly everyone agreed that a more comprehensive discussion was long overdue.
“There never seems to be the right year to have the conversation,” said Balducci. “…There’s got to be a time to talk about it. There’s got to be a time to discuss how we’re going to fund the big dreams and vision we have for this city because we owe it to the citizens to deliver, and to stay on the cutting edge.”