After much debate, City Council approves new two-year budget

After months of intense debate, the Lynnwood City Council has passed a balanced budget.

The spending plan for 2011-12 bridges a $22 million shortfall through a combination of cuts and new taxes. It preserves all but about 30 city jobs.

“This is the end product of this journey that has been at times very arduous, at times very personal for everybody including residents of the city. It is not something that anyone has arrived at easily. It is a balanced budget in the sense that the numbers add up,” Council President Mark Smith said.

Smith said the budget contains $10 million in cuts and $7 million in new taxes. He said it will cost the average taxpayer an additional $145 per year ($50 in utility taxes and $95 in property taxes.)

Before the council members approved the budget, they overrode the mayor’s vetoes of the utility and property taxes. It required a 5-2 vote, with Councilmen Jim Smith and Ted Hikel dissenting.

Council member Kim Cole was pleased the budget saved far more jobs than first expected.

“The bottom line for me is the reduction of live bodies that serve the people of Lynnwood has gone down to such an extent that all I can say is thank you to the people who put in the time to make themselves extremely proficient in budgeting,” she said.

Hikel, who voted against the budget, considered it flawed.

“This budget, without real cuts, without consideration of setting priorities of government, without any future revenue reserves available to this or to future councils, leaves us without any real options for the financial future of Lynnwood other than future dramatic cuts in personnel and service levels or the imposition of a business and occupation tax,” Hikel said.

Final layoff notices to affected employees will go out this week and will take effect Dec. 31.

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