At the Nov. 24 business meeting, the City Council approved the 2021-2022 budget with climate change response as its top priority.
The $87 million citywide biennial budget reflects an annual reduction in overall tax-supported revenues of approximately 8% ($4.1 million) across the biennium compared to levels of growth typical before the economic fallout of COVID-19. Utility revenues remain largely unchanged.
The budget was developed to adjust to the City’s reduced revenue while still maintaining the City’s ongoing commitment to its highest priority goals and core services.
Key highlights in the approved budget:
- Provides $500,000 to support the City’s implementation of the Climate Action Plan.
- Adds a Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Officer who will coordinate the priorities of the Climate Action Plan.
- Sets aside $600,000 from Transportation Benefit funds for future high priority short-term projects resulting from Sustainable Transportation planning.
- Adds a Behavioral Health Navigator position in the Police Department. This position will allow a more integrated approach between law enforcement and social services.
- Includes $100,000 to support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives.
- Maintains the current funding levels of $2.0 million to support community partners and programs for human services, cultural element funding, and other support including economic development.
- Maintains the City emphasis on effective stewardship of existing and planned infrastructure. The approved budget funds new capital projects in the coming biennium of about $5.1 million for utility projects and $3.7 million for tax-supported projects. This amount does not include support from state and federal grants.
- Tax-supported major projects include Madison Avenue sidewalk reconstruction, Senior Center improvements, and the Visconsi Trail.
- Major utility projects include Winslow fire flow improvements, Winslow water tank replacement, and Village Basin sewer improvements.
- Adds a Natural Resource Senior Planner position.
- Eliminates four regular positions (Police Officer, Senior Judicial Specialist, Senior Plan Check Engineer, Planner) and two term-limited positions (Public Records Analyst, Senior Planner); all of which are currently vacant.
To assist with long-range financial planning and overall fiscal stability, the City applies a 10-year planning horizon to assess the sustainability of City budgets and major spending decisions. Using this long-range perspective, the spending levels included in the 2021-2022 budget are forecast to match recurring expenses to recurring revenues for roughly eight years. The current forecast also indicates that the City’s fund balance will meet reserve requirements for roughly eight years.
The Council discussed the City’s proposed 2021-2022 budget during 10 meetings, including one workshop dedicated specifically to the budget. Public hearings were held Oct. 27 and Nov. 10 to allow the community an opportunity to comment on the proposed spending plans. More detailed information is available on the City’s Budget webpage.
“The 2021-2022 budget meets all financial and reserve policies through the coming biennium. While it does not meet the 10-year sustainability tests, which the City has used in recent budget cycles to support its financial goals, it does meet those standards through the next eight years,” Mayor Leslie Schneider said. “I’m proud of what we did together and the solid foundation this sets for the next two years— even given the extraordinary challenges of this past year.”
In addition, the Council approved a 1% property tax levy increase, which is the maximum amount allowed by state law.
The additional revenue is used to pay for increases in ongoing costs supported by the General Fund, such as personnel and repair and maintenance. These costs typically grow by more than 1% each year. Property taxes account for more than 40% of General Fund revenues and represent the single largest funding source for the City.
The City of Bainbridge Island property tax represents about 9% of the total tax bill paid by Bainbridge Island property owners each year. The remaining 91% of property taxes are paid to the State of Washington, Bainbridge Island School District, Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Kitsap County, Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District, Kitsap Regional Library and other taxing jurisdictions.
The exact distribution of property tax across the various taxing jurisdictions changes from year to year, but the general proportion remains about the same. In 2020, the City received roughly nine cents of every dollar of property tax paid by Bainbridge Island property owners.