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Arlington City Council considers city budget

 

Christopher Andersson

Potential improvements to Haller Park's bathrooms and the potential addition of a splash pad are two of the capital projects included in the 2017-18 proposed Arlington budget.

Arlington staff have proposed the 2017-18 budget for the city which they say will "hold the line" on current services, provide room for some transportation projects and have a small increase in property tax.

The proposed 1 percent increase would be around $6 per year for the average homeowner.

"It's a small amount of revenue in the scheme of things, but it adds up over years," said Arlington City Administrator Paul Ellis.

Overall rates are projected to go down as assessed values of houses continue to rise.

In 2016 the total tax from the city was $1.8639 per $1,000 assessed value for property owners, while the projected 2017 rate is $1.7816 per $1,000 currently.

Ellis was hopeful that this will be the first budget in the last few years that sees a bigger increase in revenue than in expenses.

Currently the 2017-18 budget projects a 7 percent increase in revenue with a 6 percent increase in expenses.

The majority of that revenue comes from the recovering economy, said Ellis.

"Most of it has to do with the economy and more sales tax coming in, because the retailers are doing better than they have in the past few years," he said.

The 2016 budget saw a 1 percent increase in revenue and a 3 percent increase in expenses.

Increases in expenses mainly come from factors that are "outside of the control" of the city, said Ellis, like the rising healthcare costs for employees.

Ellis said one of the main goals of the budget was to maintain the current services provided by the city.

"We really tried to still hold the line," he said.

Many capital projects are part of the budget, including many which could become a reality if the city succeeds in obtaining grant funding.

The Arlington Valley Road and the 173rd Street projects are both "in the critical path of economic development," for the city, said Ellis.

The city currently has a grant application out for a 173rd Street project "that we're hopeful we'll get," said Ellis.

The street in the Smokey Point area would be "mainly a way to take pressure off of 172nd [Street]," he said.

The Arlington Valley Road is currently funded through grants and the city is developing the road and currently acquiring property for it.

The road is meant to help one of the city's manufacturing areas by connecting 74th Avenue and 67th Avenue.

"It opens up some property in there that will help with industrial development," said Ellis.

Haller Park improvements is another big capital project that could receive grant funding.

"This has been a very community-driven project," said Ellis, as the Arlington Rotary Club has made past improvements as has raised around $550,000 toward a splash pad.

A state recreation grant could add another $500,000 if the city is awarded it.

The city is also building a new set of restrooms higher up, near the new set of play equipment.

"The current bathrooms are old and in desperate need of repair, but they're also in the part of the park that floods, so it's hard to keep them properly maintained when they flood," said Ellis.

This is the first time the city is constructing a two-year budget. Ellis said it helps the city look further ahead with their plans.

"Just to keep us in a nimble position, because like any other business we need to watch the economy and be able to make adjustments in the organization," he said.

A public hearing about the budget was held on Nov. 7 and the Arlington City Council is expected to make a decision on the proposed budget at their Nov. 21 meeting.

 

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