The city of Lynnwood is expected to face a shortfall of an estimated $21 million in 2011-2012.
Most, if not all departments will face cutbacks. Trouble is, councilmembers say, they don’t have any idea what those cuts will look like because Mayor Don Gough still hasn’t given them a budget.
“We haven’t seen a budget yet,” Councilman Mark Smith said Monday night. “I don’t want to talk about reducing city hall hours by a day, I don’t want to talk about reducing staffing levels, I don’t want to talk about union negotiations, I want to see a budget.”
“We can’t have a reasonable discussion about alternatives until we see a budget,” he said.
By law, the mayor doesn’t have to present a balanced budget until Nov. 1. But councilmembers say that won’t give them enough time to decide where to cut.
“That’s the law. That doesn’t mean it’s prudent. We need something now,” Councilman Jim Smith said.
In June councilmembers submitted their priorities for the budget, but they say it’s futile to go through those ideas until they see a budget.
“The administration knows what the priorities of the council are. It’s the administration’s responsibility to present a budget. I want to see a balanced budget sooner rather than later and at that point then we can engage in a discussion as a council about the budget,” Mark Smith said.
He compared the situation to fixing up a house he just bought.
“There’s a number of repairs we need to make and my wife and I aren’t going to sit down and have a serious discussion about which repairs to make until we have a budget for household repairs,” he said.
“I can tell you from personal experience that if I were to do this to my board, the first time around they might say ‘you obviously didn’t understand what we said, Mark.’ And then if I came back to them again without a budget or said I want you guys to decide all this stuff before I actually create a budget, they’d either laugh me out of the room or fire my butt,” he said. “It’s time for the mayor as the CEO of this municipal corporation to create a budget.”
The new budget must be approved in December.
Monday night’s meeting was the first since the council called on Mayor Gough to resign because of his alleged mistreatment of city employees. However, he left the meeting early before the council comment portion.