The Snohomish County Council adopted the 2019 budget Nov. 19.
The budget reflects North County values of fiscal responsibility and prioritizing public safety. This budget process has been hailed as one of the most collaborative and bipartisan in county history. It began early this year when Executive Dave Somers began meeting regularly with Council Chairwoman Stephanie Wright and me to discuss budget priorities and guiding principles.
Throughout the process, all council members were heard and the resulting budget strikes a balance of freezing the general property tax levy while funding important functions, particularly public safety.
For the second-consecutive year, we voted to not increase the county’s general property tax levy. This is a commitment to county taxpayers that we
recognize the growing tax burden that residents face from ever-increasing state and local taxes. I will continue to look for ways to cut costs and reduce the tax burden on our residents.
Another element from last year’s budget that we built on this year was adding five new deputies to the Sheriff’s Office. I believe that public safety is the top priority of local government and am proud that we have added 10 deputies over the last two years.
I am also proud of the work in this year’s budget to build up our fiscal resiliency for the years to come. We now have a 14 percent fund balance (up from 11 percent last year), which puts us in a better position for the next economic downtown. In addition to increasing our fund balance, we also dedicated a significant amount of money into the county’s revenue stabilization fund. This fund is essentially the county’s “rainy-day fund” and requires a supermajority vote of the council to spend these funds. This assures that we are only spending the money when it is absolutely necessary. The budget contributes approximately $2.5 million into the revenue stabilization fund, which is the largest investment into this fund since its inception. When there are years of economic growth and positive revenues such as this year, there can be pressure to spend those dollars on new initiatives. Instead of doing that, the County Council, in collaboration with the executive, have decided to store that money for a rainy day. This way, we will be in a much-better position when the next economic downturn occurs and will be at a lower risk for potential layoffs.
In summary, the adopted 2019 county budget reflects our commitment to fiscal responsibility and public safety that North County residents expect from their government. I am proud of the collaborative and bipartisan manner in which this year’s budget process was conducted, and I strongly believe that it has resulted in a benefit for the county taxpayers. I hope to continue to work with my fellow council members as well as the county executive in future years to find ways to save money and keep county government running efficiently.
Nate Nehring represents District 1, which includes Marysville and Arlington.