Newest city revenue-forecast #s: Lots of budget balancing to do

We’re in the 7th floor briefing room at City Hall, where media reps are about to get details on the city’s revenue forecast for the year. General Fund revenue looking $29.5 million short, according to the official news release. What that will mean for the city’s budget won’t be announced today, but this is a prelude. In addition, the Real Estate Excise Tax is projected to be down $11 million (different funds pay for different programs). They’re NOT expecting this recession ultimately to be as bad locally as 2001-2003, though. A few other factors they’re noting: A bit of deflation is more likely than inflation; the forecast personal savings rate is up, which may sound good but it means less sales-tax revenue in the short run.

10:15 AM UPDATE: Whole lot of numbers here but the bottom line is that they have more than $40 million in budget balancing to do, according to city finance director Dwight Dively (photo above), who will brief the City Council on all this within the hour. Some of it may be covered with the city’s rainy-day fund (explained in this city ordinance), but there’s no question that more cuts are to come (as had been warned for quite some time). He says the city is still in better shape than the county and state, regarding how badly it’s been affected and how much it will have to adjust. All this will be presented to the council Budget Committee at 10:30, if you’re interested in watching online or via cable ( – we’ll be heading down to see how it’s framed (and inquired about) there.

10:54 AM UPDATE: City Council Budget Committee is now getting briefed on this. Starts with “how did we get to this place” (national recession). Don’t worry, we’ll boil this all down later, but in case you are a numbers fan, we’ll do some play-by-play. The committee’s chair, Councilmember Jean Godden, has reminded those on hand that the budget-cut proposals will come from the mayor, but the council will not be rubber-stamping anything.

11:38 AM UPDATE: The handouts we got at the earlier briefing aren’t online so far but there is one list we thought you’d be interested in – some reasons for optimism, as the city sees it:

*Stock market up more than 20% from early March low

Home sales rose in February: new 4.7%, existing 5.1%

Single-family permits rose 11% in February

US retail sales rose in January and February (measured on month-to-month basis)

Orders for manufactured goods rose 1.8% in February

*Shipping volumes are showing signs of stabilizing (rail, truck, container, air freight)

11:42 AM UPDATE: The city has JUST posted the forecast docs online, same ones being presented to the council now, and seen in the media briefing we attended earlier. See them here. Wondering what this all may mean to you? We won’t have specifics till the mayor recommends budget cuts (likely to be made public within a few weeks), but for example: Capital projects, such as construction — roads, parks — paid for by the Real Estate Excise Tax, which is hurting big time, may have to be scaled back. Not the ones for which contracts already have been awarded, Dively clarified, but if there are proposals that haven’t gone out to bid yet – they could face the ax. Council President Richard Conlin is noting during the meeting right now, the drop in REET could mean a FIFTY PERCENT cut in those “capital projects.” (Not all road projects come from this, though – Dively said the ones paid for by Bridging the Gap, approved by voters a few years back, will not be affected.)

NOON: The first proposed cuts may be made public as soon as next week, according to the final words before the end of the official briefing (which has now segued into general public comment) – those would involve the Real Estate Excise Tax (1 1/2 percent)-funded projects.

4 Replies to "Newest city revenue-forecast #s: Lots of budget balancing to do"

  • toddinwestwood April 6, 2009 (11:47 am)

    Anyone else notice his coffee cup??

  • WSB April 6, 2009 (12:08 pm)

    You have a good eye. I was sitting 10 feet from him and paid no attention. Of course, I was taking notes at the time – TR

  • Alvis April 6, 2009 (4:02 pm)

    The first thing we do, let’s kill the hundreds of millions in city subsidies earmarked for Paul Allen’s private real estate developments in the South Lake Union neighborhood.

  • Tom April 6, 2009 (6:52 pm)

    So, out of the blue, the city started citing my neighbors who had bushes or landscaping encroaching the sidewalks, I guess that’s one way to add funds to the budget.

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