On Monday evening during the extended study session, Bellevue City Council members participated in a general overview of the mid-biennium budget for 2017. Similar to previous mid-biennium updates, the budget review updates revenue projections and existing personnel costs, and builds reserves to address known and unknown risks.
While the city’s finances are strong, the council voiced concern over a projected gap in revenue and expenses beginning in 2021. The financial forecast shows that in 2021, expenditures will grow at a faster rate than revenues due to several factors including the anticipated opening of Fire Station 10 in 2022, the forecasted depletion of the Law Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters Plan 1 (LEOFF 1) medical reserve that necessitates a cost to shift to the general fund in 2019, expiration of the sales tax annexation tax credit in 2022, and general growth in existing personnel costs.
By policy and best practice, Bellevue maintains a 15 percent financial reserve to address future risks, which has contributed to the city’s sound financial position. In 2023, this number is projected to dip to 12 percent. To maintain stability in operations, a possible one-time, 1 percent property tax for 2018 was discussed. The council has statutory authority to allow a 1 percent increase in 2018. If approved, the property tax increase would cost a Bellevue homeowner about $6 for the year for a home with a median assessed property value of $791,000 and approximately $7.60 for a homeowner with a home assessed at $1 million.
A public hearing for the mid-biennium budget will take place during the Monday, Nov. 20 council meeting. Adoption could take place as early as Monday, Nov. 27. More information is available in the council agenda materials.
Spring District design reconciliation
The council unanimously agreed to move forward with a process for reconciling design conflicts between the provisions in the Land Use Code (LUC) and adopted Capital Investment Program (CIP) projects in the Spring District. As per the council’s request, the new solution is narrowly tailored to resolve any additional conflicts for Northeast Spring Boulevard. In addition, it avoids approving any unknown condition or eroding the appropriate separation between the CIP and LUC processes.
The issue arose over a CIP project design that only accommodates on-street parking on one side of Northeast Spring Boulevard. Under the 2009 BelRed subarea plan, parking is required on both sides. The project, however, is consistent with the council’s pedestrian focus for BelRed and the approved CIP design for the street.
A public hearing on the proposed LUC amendment is scheduled for Dec. 4. Final adoption by the council could take place during the Dec. 11 meeting.
East Main Station Area Plan
Earlier, the council agreed to move forward with implementation of the East Main Station area plan from the citizen advisory committee (CAC). The CAC recommended an increase in the amount and type of development allowed on the commercially zoned properties south of Main Street, north of Southeast Eighth Street, east of 112th Avenue and west of Interstate 405. The CAC vision includes a mix of residential, retail, office and hotel uses.
The council approved the CAC-recommended plan in August 2016, and is initiating the next steps to craft the land use policies and development regulations necessary to realize the CAC vision. The approved process will save time by allowing the LUC, comprehensive plan amendments and rezone to be worked on concurrently. The project will include public outreach and engagement throughout the Planning Commission process. The city estimates that the concurrent approach will result in completion of the project in about one year as opposed to the typical sequential process that can take up to two years, or more.
Moving forward, the Planning Commission will receive a briefing on the approach in January and begin work on draft land use policies and development code amendments. A final recommendation by the commission, which will be considered by the council for final action, could be ready by the end of 2018.