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Fund Yourself in Edmonds

by on 05/19/2011

I have repeatedly heard it said that “We do not have an expenses problem, we have a revenue problem”. I have also heard that the operation of the City of Edmonds is lean with no room for cuts in the budget. This is the justification that the Mayor, and some council members, have used in pushing for a levy.

The statement “We do not have an expenses problem, we have a revenue problem” is not true. We have a revenue problem AND we have an expenses problem.

An article in the March 31, 2011 Seattle Times stated the following:
“Last year, to close the $67 million shortfall in the $895 million budget, the city [of Seattle] eliminated about 300 positions, reduced hours at community centers, cut park maintenance, raised some fees and won wage concessions from unions (emphasis mine).”

And, in a Times article on April 1, 2011:
“Ferry workers, after forfeiting $18.3 million in raises the past two years, will accept a 3 percent PAY CUT for the next two. They’ll also be paid less for overtime and travel time.”

These are only two examples of concessions being made by public employees in response to budget crises facing our entire state, and nation. And yet in 2009, ALL Edmonds employees received a COLA of 5.8%. It is my understanding that they also received COLA increases in 2010 and in 2011. As of 2007, the average salary of our 45 non-represented employees was $87,500 a year compared to $55,000 average Edmonds HOUSEHOLD income. It has been estimated that the average pay for those 45 employees is now over $90,000 a year.

As to staffing levels, in 2002, the Development Services Department processed a high of 188 land use applications. Land use applications must be processed in 120 days, and a chart of adherence to the processing time must be posted on the city website. In 2009, only 56 land use applications were processed, less than 1/3 of those processed in 2002. The figures for land use applications in 2010 are not yet posted on the city website, but new construction expenses in 2010 were 1/4 of the expenses in 2009.

The Development Services Department continues to be staffed at 2002 levels, despite the dramatic decrease in land use applications, which are likely the most complicated applications processed by that department.

(A side note on transparency, most of this information is not available on the city website. The information that is available on land use applications is not up to date.)

I urge you to immediately stop trying to figure out how to manipulate the citizens of Edmonds into voting for a levy and INSTEAD focus your attention on addressing these issues. Using a levy to solve our expenses problem is like using a bandaid to treat internal bleeding.

Until compensation and staffing are addressed, I will vote no on ANY levy that is put forth to the voters.

From → Edmonds

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