Mayor Smith’s community moments: City finances in good shape

Mayor Nicola Smith

I am pleased to announce that the 2017-2018 adopted budget is now available on our City’s website. For the first time in many years, our Finance Department has created a “Budget Book” which compiles all the City’s funds and budget information in a format that is accessible to the public. The City has also submitted our 2017-2018 budget book to the Government Finance Officers Association in the hopes of being awarded the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. The full 2017-2018 Budget Book can be viewed at:

In this budget book, you’ll discover the results of Budgeting for Outcomes, the new method used to develop our two-year budget. This budget, along with the work we’ve done through efficiency studies, reorganizations and process improvements will allow us to better navigate through changing conditions and seize new opportunities to advance Lynnwood as a great place to live, work, do business, go to school, shop and play.

I am so proud of the work that our city staff, directors and councilmembers put into creating this budget and the work they continue to do to ensure that our city services and programs are delivered in a way that is responsive to our residents, conscious of our precious resources, and achieves our Community Vision.

Over the past few years, we have had several major development projects occur in our City. These projects bring revenues from construction fees and sales tax, and we save it in a special Economic Development Infrastructure Fund (EDIF) which will be used to finance public infrastructure and public facilities as we prepare for City Center development and Light Rail in 2023. The balance of this fund will be approximately $6.3 million at the end of the 2017-2018 biennium.

Our City is starting off this two-year budget with a strong foundation. I am pleased to report that the City’s 2015-2016 General Fund expenditures came in under budget, and revenues were slightly over budget. This allowed the City to begin the 2017 budget year with $10.1 million in the General Fund carried forward from 2016. And for an added bonus, we just received word that sales tax revenues from 2016 were 9.5 percent higher than sales tax revenues in 2015!

Our City’s adopted 2017-2018 budget includes a healthy General Fund reserve of $11.7 million at the end of the biennium. Lynnwood’s economy is strong and I will continue to work with our city department directors, councilmembers and community members to ensure Lynnwood’s prosperity now and into the future.

Nicola Smith, Mayor of Lynnwood

  1. I’m curious as to how we went from 6 million in the hole because the rainy day fund was raided to a “balance the budget” more do not look behind the curtain promises?

    1. Marylou, I’m still researching this rainy fund budget but during my research of the history of Lynnwood’s rainy day fund, I found this article . To my surprise, I found something I agree with the old Mayor Gough, from the article Gough said he’s giving the council everything it has asked for. “Everyone is frustrated, That’s understandable. It’s time for everyone to pause, take three deep breaths and refocus on putting ideas and solutions forward. Identifying and examining solutions is what is in the best interests of our city. Anything else is a distraction, not useful, and a disservice to our city.” Today, we may not be in a recession but I think everyone is frustrated with the raising cost it takes to have a properly equipped fire and police department. I agree with Gough, hopefully we can examine solutions on what’s best for the City. Is this a good enough answer or should I keep researching?

  2. Great Question Marylou, I do know it’s common practice for funds to get shifted around but I don’t know the current status the“rainy day” fund. It’s not because of any hidden agenda but because understanding a budget is complex and as I citizen I have not taken the time to look into every detail. I do know that the cities are not on a fix income because most of it’s money comes from sales tax and you can only predict how much money people will spend. The opposite can be said about how much cities will spend because a lot of the cost comes from fire and polices services and you can only predict how much crime and fires will occur. Having a budget based on the volatility of sales taxes makes the practice of shifting funds common. The question you pose is going to be a great opportunity for me to learn more about my government, thank you for being a involved citizen.

  3. I got involved after the Mayor tried to appoint a City Manager (because she has no clue on how to budget) AFTER LYNNWOOD CITIZENS VOTED NO TO A CITY MANAGER. She almost got away with it.

  4. For whatever reason it was, it’s great you got involved. As public as a forum this maybe the reality is out of town of over 35,000 residents, maybe a few hundred will read these comments. I am a huge advocate for Lynnwoodtoday for everyone to read and I appreciate your engagement even if I oppose your opinions. I am unaware of this ballot that you speak of and I would like to look it up. As much as I prioritize being an engaged citizen it is difficult for me to find the time. I really do look forward to answering your budget question but it is going to take me a few days to research and answer.

  5. Kudos to Mayor Smith for getting Lynnwood “back in the black.” She has done a great job, including the hiring an award winning finance director who has helped put Lynnwood’s finances back together. In the recent past, Lynnwood had a debt of nearly 18 Million dollars. Now, through her leadership and sound decisions by the last couple of city councils, the ship has been righted. I don’t understand why a vocal handful want to criticize her? Very curious. Everyone who has actually worked with Mayor Nicola Smith likes her, respects her and recognizes her dedication and transparency. Her staff and the workers at the city of Lynnwood seem to love her. Additionally, almost all of the local elected officials support her re-election. So to me, her record speaks for itself.

  6. Red light cameras and a 10.4% sales tax are are just a couple items, bringing in big revenue, both helping to “right the ship”. That’s an incredible sale tax rate for the average income in our community. Do the math on buying a $30,000 vehicle in Lynnwood. It adds $3,120. Even driving up the road to Marysville would save a Lynnwood resident almost $400. And with the increased inflated tab fees, that certainly gives one pause on buying a new or newer vehicle. On another note, why are there so many empty buildings that are huge eyesores, such as Chevy’s on 44th, Alfy’s on 196th, Sports Authority on 44th, and many other vacant buildings? I would think getting them replaced or occupied somehow would be priority. People visiting this area see them, wonder why, and it puts Lynnwood in a negative light.

    1. Charlene, your question demonstrates the difficulty I have distinguishing the role between, public, voter and the different levels of government. 6.5% of the 10.4% is from the state and your right, the further away from Seattle you go it will be less. Leaving Lynnwood in a tough spot. The properties you speak of are private property and even with an great economic development team, government can’t force someone to rent space. However, the area you speak of will be a completely different when the light rail comes to Lynnwood. I encourage you check out City Center plans if you haven’t seen them already.

  7. Elizabeth, I appreciate your reply to my comment, but let’s be accurate. Getting farther out from Seattle has nothing to do with our ridiculously high 10.4% sales tax. Seattle just increased to 10.1%. Lynnwood and Mill Creek have the two highest rates in the state. This cannot continue without residents shopping elsewhere to get a lower tax rate, especially on big ticket items, and I’m sure that’s not what Lynnwood government wants to happen.

  8. Charlene, thank you for replying because you are right as soon as I hit send, I knew I could have been more accurate. I was comparing local sales taxes in Snohomish County. When you move more into rural areas the taxes do go down, as they go up in more urban areas. That’s why cities in south Snohomish local taxes are so much higher then cities in northern Snohomish County. Comparing local taxes to Snohomish County vs King County is not apples to apples. King county has more of a culture to focus taxes on property taxes then it is in sales taxes. So even though their local sales tax maybe lower, doesn’t mean their total taxes are lower. You’re also right that having a higher sales tax is not an incentive to buy bigger purchases, but it was not Lynnwood government that raised the taxes to be uncompetitive, it was the voters. Yet, Lynnwood government is left with the accountability and problem to resolve.

  9. Interesting. That must be why we’re not being told that we won’t have a say in the next big tax hike. We are to hand Millions of dollars of fire equipment to Fire District 1, have our taxes go up as soon as they take over the Lynnwood Fire Department. And then the Fire District gets to vote again to raise our taxes. Oh, I forgot, we don’t get a tax break from the City of Lynnwood once the Lynnwood Fire Department is booted to the curb – the Mayor still collects the tax dollars that use to go to the Lynnwood Fire Department. Mayor Smith’s priority is to have us depend on a couple of RACISTS to decide our fate. Hope you’re not Hispanic or any other ethnicity Fire District 1 Commissioners decide they don’t like because you may not get help when you need it – it might be very slow service. I also wonder when Mayor Smith will dump the Police Department, Parks and Recreation, licensing etc?

    1. It breaks my heart thinking how people will throw accusation of being racist without taking the time to know the person first. I just can’t stomach people disrespecting fire fighters and sparking a racist witch hunt just to get votes. Congratulations, Team Hikel you broke me, you won. Go ahead recruit with your venomous hate against FD1 and Mayor Smith. You’re done hearing for me now, I’m just too sick, too sad and too depressed that people would go this low.

  10. I’m not making accusations just for the sake of making accusations. I do not blindly follow anyone, even Ted Hikel, who you have accused me of blindly following. These FD1 Commissioners did not apologize for making racist remarks they gave a non-apology apology because they got caught. Then they said they were victims because people said they should be held accountable for their remarks.
    FYI, I’m not running for anything.

  11. I never accused you of blindly following anyone, but I can spot Hikel rhetoric faster then I can spot out Trump’s. Hikel has been spewing hidden agendas, more taxes for less and repulsiveness against a region fire district since he lost his position on council. Like Trump he uses fear mongering and attacks the trust of government in order to get his friends elected. Sheri, you may not be running but your friend is. Let’s be clear what happened with fire district 1, there were three wrongs. 1) The commissioners comments 2) How the union handled the situation 3) People labeling the commissioners as racists bases on 10 second clip. The commissioners did not claim victims but they have every right to point out that rather then going to the commissioners or human resources the union emailed main stream media. The first time these commissioners heard that they offended anyone was in front of media stream cameras and an angry mob. This is the first insensitive incident these commissioners had and they have a history of advocating for a diverse workforce. There is only 1 apology out of the three wrong doings. I’ll be more then happy to accept your non-apology apology.

  12. Ms. Lunsford thank you for your comments. I also think you misread – I did not apologize.

    I have been the recipient of “insensitive remarks, bigoted remarks, racist remarks, and jokes that while they might seem insensitive were not.” I’ve been told to go home, I have to admit the monkey remarks and n**** were and still are quite interesting. Oh, I am as pasty faced as they come and I am thankful for freckles so I can claim to have color.

    When an apology comes with the “he did it too, so why am I in trouble” that isn’t an apology. Nor can someone claim that they couldn’t possibly bigoted against a group because – they know someone from that group – who is suddenly raised to friend – or because someone in their family married into the said group so they couldn’t be bigoted against that group is erroneous at best. I listened to what they said and to their apology non-apology. There apologies were not apologies, they said the words they came up with excuses to why they shouldn’t be held accountable. They even had the audacity to vote to not be held accountable for their actions. I guess they thought that because they were part of the Fire Fighter community they were above being held accountable. Your comments show you agree.

    As for the being blindly against FD1 because you “can spot Hikel rhetoric faster then I can spot out Trump’s.” Please understand this speaks loudly of your bias. Like many in the community I would like to know EXACTLY what is happening with the negotiations between the City of Lynnwood and FD1 unfortunately, the stake holders called in by the City to discuss whether or not to begin negotiations didn’t include citizens of Lynnwood; the Stake Holders were businesses. The open meetings for the public/ those not considered Stake Holders came after it appeared the decision was made and appeared to be scheduled to minimize who would be able to attend. When asked what was being discussed, we the public were given the proverbial pat on the head and told everything was fine.

    I don’t know if joining FD1 is beneficial overall for everyone or not because there is no real information, everything presented is done to confuse and divert our attention, so now I am suspicious that I and my neighbors are being sold a bill of goods. So yes, Mr. Hikel is being listened to, even when you are accusing him of spreading conspiracy theories, because he has been the only person who has given the public information. I don’t want to pay double taxes or have my taxes go up when there is no benefit for my community. I am not against paying more taxes if it benefits my community – I believe we have a duty as human beings to help each other. I’m also practical, we are only as healthy and as happy as a society as the least healthy and happy in our world.

    I don’t know about you but in order to be happy, I need to feel SAFE, I need to TRUST those in positions of power will not to abuse that power which includes denying lifesaving services to those in need because of race, color, creed, religion, nationality, origin, age, gender or sexual orientation. These FD1 Commissioners do not make me feel safe based on their comments, their non-apology apology and vote to protect themselves from being held accountable. The City of Lynnwood under the leadership of the Mayor don’t make me feel safe because of their response to these FD1 commissioners. I understand that you are among the privileged who feel safe because the comments weren’t aimed at you and you are certain that if the comments were about you there would have been real action taken. Just remember, by the time they get to you there may not be any of us left to defend you because you didn’t think we were worthy.

    I have spent a lifetime fighting against bigotry and I know those who haven’t been the recipient of it rarely understand the harm it cases and minimize or dismiss it by blaming the victim. They even go so far as claiming the perpetrator is the real victim because he/she was caught and were really just nice people so they should get a pass. After all hadn’t they been punished enough.

    1. I am sorry you had those horrible life experiences; no one should ever have to experience them. As much empathy I can possible have, please note that you have no idea what my life has been like. Even people you know, you do not know what type of hardships they have occurred. This included David Chan, a true immigrant who story will not be told under the label of racist you are eager to label him as. The phrase “You know” that Bob ending his offensive joke about was not included in main stream media. Bob does know the hardships that David experienced and they joke about in order to cope with it. David truly wants to hire immigrants from Mexico in order to diversify the workforce, how does this make the Hispanic community feel unsafe? This unconventional method is the base of his joke, but people like yourself don’t hear that contexts. It’s understandably why; the world is filled with hate and injustices. However prosecuting to the max is not going to bring justice, it brings revenge and I believe will bring backlash. I acknowledge your fear and you absolutely have reason for it. I am an advocate that understanding, education and forgiveness is the best way to end racism. I recommend you meeting with these commissioners if they make you feel unsafe. As you may agree, fear is no way to run a country and I hope you can see fear is not away you should be judging local government. Again, I can hope you take the time to know these commissioners before you label them as racists.

      1. I wanted clarify what I mean by backlash because it was not meant to be a threat. The backlash from punishing to the max is adding fear to the cesspool of breitbart readers, fueling P.O.S like Steve Bannon and giving reason for this war on P.C which was part of Trump’s hateful rhetoric that got him elected. In my media feed, this article about unfairness came up today that hit close to me, It made me realize I have to “unhook” from people unfairly labeling people as racists. To share a little bit about myself I was raised on the southside of Chicago and was the only white kid on my block. I had a great childhood and everyone was nice to me. I admit to having white privilege for example I was not recruited by gangs or labeled as “getting into trouble” as a kid playing around. However, to say I wasn’t subject to be unfairly labeled as racist would be denying myself of my experiences. Being labeled as a racist is very hurtful for me. It’s in this hurt why I battle people labeling these commissioners as racist. You made me realize you have your right to label people as racists. It’s not the label of racists that I want to fight. However, I am ready to fight and take a lead that understanding, education and forgiveness is the way to end racism.

        1. I really wish there was an edit feature on these comments because I feel the need to clarify my gang remark. I had friends who felt the pressures of gangs and this is something I never experienced. It was not easy seeing this struggle. Childhood friends with similar background as mine ended up behind bars. I definitely do think part of my success is not being labeled as a criminal which is why I say it’s a white privilege. Kids I grew up with were labeled gang members just because the way they dressed. Being labeled as a gang member rather then an innocent kid like I had the privilege of does have an influence on you. It saddens me that kids had to grow up with these labels.

  13. Marylou if my memory serves me well, what actually happened in 2015 was that Van AuBuchon surprised the council during “new business” with a resolution to put that matter on the ballot. There had been no previous discussion by the council on that matter, no vetting, which was a violation of the spirit of the council rules. “Surprise proposals” dropped like a bomb during the new business segment, without first running them through the proper channels as council rules requires, has always been considered “railroading” and inprudent. The democraticly elected council rightly voted that down 5-2 if I remember correctly with only Van (the sponsor) and Ian Cotton voting for it.

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