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City tightens its belt, maintains current levels of service
MARYSVILLE — The city of Marysville is not immune from the tough economic times looming over the rest of the country, but thanks to the foresight of the city’s finance department, Finance Director Sandy Langdon hopes that most citizens will barely even notice the difference in their city’s services.
“About two years ago, I looked at the real estate boom, and I didn’t know where all these people could be coming from,” Langdon said. “I knew the construction had to end sooner or later.”
In anticipation, the finance department began ramping down its revenue estimates from real estate excise taxes and various fees associated with real estate buying, selling, developing, permitting and inspections, to meet its averages from the previous three years, before the boom.
Because less people are moving into town, Langdon expects that the city will hold its four vacant positions in the planning department open. There will be a new prosecutor, as required by the state.
“We’re not acquiring any new equipment,” Langdon said. “Our capital projects are already covered by other funding sources, so there won’t be any new taxes.”
Thanks to a levy passed two years ago, the Marysville Fire District’s budget is covered through 2009, and Langdon stated that the city’s budget for 2009 is balanced.
The first half of the year, we were about 3 to 5 percent off,” Langdon said. “But now, we’re only 2 to 3 percent off. It was a little bit more than we expected this time. Usually, the economic waves start on the East Coast and end with us, because we have that ‘Boeing buffer,’ but this one was too big for the buffer to handle.
“Our philosophy is to stay without our means,” she added. “Sometimes we’re too conservative, but it’s paid off this time. We want to see the money in the bank before we spend it.”
department wins ‘Distinguished
Langdon reported that the city’s finance department has won the Washington Finance Officers Association’s “Distinguished Budget Award” for 2008.
Langdon explained that the Distinguished Budget Award program was created to help WFOA members draw up budget documents that are both complete and comprehensible to government officials and lay-people in the general public alike, without skimping on financial planning.
She elaborated that this is the first year the city of Marysville has submitted its budget for a DBA, because they wanted to make sure they would receive the award before they even bothered to apply for it.