The Bellevue City Council passed several 2019-2020 budget adjustments during its Dec. 2 regular meeting.
The approval of the recommendations is part of the mid-biennium budget review process as part of a two-year budget cycle.
Six items were up for discussion at the meeting. Three were fee-based ordinances; the other three points of discussion involved property-tax levy adjustment, a resolution to preserve future funding-fee levy amounts; and a final “umbrella” budget ordinance.
“As a reminder, the mid-biennium adjustments are primarily technical in nature,” said Toni Call, the city’s finance director. “It is just personnel costs, corrects errors, adopts the impact for the state Legislature for new resources for affordable housing. It makes a slight increase to police personnel. It adjusts for Bellevue’s portion of two personnel for ARCH [A Regional Coalition for Housing]…and it adds six personnel to development services to address continuing demand for urbanization and growth.”
The first item passed unanimously. Ordinance 6489 adjusts fees for development services, affecting permitting for development in Bellevue.
“These fees are being adjusted consistently with what we’ve done over the past several years,” Mayor John Chelminiak said.
Ordinance 6490, which amends the code for fire inspection fees and establishes an effective starting date, also was approved by all councilmembers, as was ordinance 6491, which approves the 2020 transportation impact fee rate schedules.
By passing 6491, the schedule, according to council documents, will reflect trip-generation factors as confirmed by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and have, starting on Jan. 1, a base fee rate of $6,854.
Ordinance 6492, which establishes the property taxes to be levied for 2020 (the final year of the fiscal biennium), saw some contention. The ordinance calls for the adjustment of the tax by 1 percent, or an annual increase of roughly $8 for homes valued at a median of $936,000 in the city.
Councilmember Conrad Lee said he wanted more discussion about the increase, as the city, currently, is keeping up with revenue needs.
“We don’t really need to anticipate revenues dropping off,” Lee said. “We will probably sometime in the future…raise our taxes to meet our demands as we get there. I think that’s reasonable, because we don’t have any anticipated need for spending that money.”
Councilmember Jennifer Robertson said she appreciated Lee being a “budget hawk,” but disagreed — as did other members of the Bellevue council. The council noted that the adjustment is necessary to ensure business costs don’t outpace revenue in the future, and that the city be able to accommodate public safety needs and required personnel.
“It is important to recognize that this raising of this tax this year was not automatic,” said Councilmember John Stokes, who also invoked a need for the increase as a way to maintain the city’s trajectory. “We’re not an automatic pilot on this — we consider it very carefully and we will always do that.”
“Umbrella” Ordinance 6493, which adopts the modifications to the 2019-2020 biennium budget, was unanimously passed at the end of the mid-biennial adjustment process.
For the full conversation about the budget amendments, go to the recording of the Dec. 2 council meeting online (https://bit.ly/2Em7qrQ). To look at the details of the discussed ordinances, go to the meeting agenda (https://bit.ly/34t7cd6).