A project that has been dreamed of since before the revitalization of N. Olympic Avenue more than 15 years ago, the city of Arlington’s 2019-20 biennial budget includes funds to repave the merchants parking lot in the 300 block of N. Olympic Avenue.

Funds from new development mitigation fees are also slotted for improvements to the terraces of Terrace Park, along with other park improvements.

Arlington City Council will take public input on the city’s 2019-2020 biennial budget next Monday, Nov. 5.

Including all sources of revenue, the city will collect over $50 million and will spend more than $54 million in 2019, with expenses increasing to more than $57 million in 2020. An ending fund balance of $3.25 million will be carried over from 2018.

Staff has been working on the budget since early summer based on council input at the spring retreat, with initial review at a first draft at a budget retreat meeting in early October.

The preliminary budget was posted for public review on Oct. 23.

After the Nov. 5 public hearing, the final budget ordinance will be presented for council approval on Nov. 19.

The annual property tax levy amount must be established by ordinance by Nov. 30 for the following levy year.

The $54 million budget is guided by the city’s mission, “to provide high quality services that are essential for a safe and vibrant community.”

Also guiding budget priorities is the city’s vision, recognizing that future growth is inevitable — due to its proximity to I-5 and nearby population centers — the city’s vision is not to be a bedroom community, but rather, “to preserve Arlington’s small town identity, with the support of a growing employment base from the expanding airport, a manufacturing industrial center and a thriving medical community.”

The 135-page budget document proclaims that Arlington is a caring city and its people need recreational activities, educational resources, cultural opportunities and entertainment for a full quality of life.

The 2019-2020 biennial budget is based on a population of 19,300 for 2019, up 3.6 percent from 2018. Population estimates are determined by the state Office of Financial Management to calculate the distribution of state revenues shared on a per capita basis.

Snohomish County Assessor’s Office estimates that Arlington’s assessed value for 2019 will be nearly $2.8 billion ($2,780,543,509), an 11 percent increase from 2018 — that determines how much property taxes the city has to spend. The city’s general expense levy amount for 2019 is estimated to be $1.6432 per $1,000 of assessed property value and $.3890 per $1,000 for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Fund. Revenue sources include utility taxes, liquor and marijuana excise taxes, real estate excise taxes, permits, land-use and other service fees, and state and federal grants.

The new ambulance utility fee of $15 per billable unit, established in August this year, is expected to generate $1.4 million in 2019 and $1.5 million in 2020, to help cover the costs of EMS services that are not covered by the EMS levy.

A 2/10 of a percent sales tax approved by voters in 2013 funds the city’s Transportation Benefit District (TBD), strictly for repair and improvements to city roads for a 10-year period. Mitigation fees collected from new development are also used on transportation projects, with $1.589 million transferred to the Transportation Improvement Fund in this budget cycle. Because, according to the city budget preamble, “the ability to move freight and people is essential in a sustainable community,” Arlington is planning more than $6.5 million in road improvements in the next year. Of that budget, $4.5 million is from state and federal grant funding. Along with reconstruction of the merchants parking lot, projects include the design and construction of 173rd Street NE, repairing the 67th Avenue NE/193rd Street NE Centennial Trail Railroad Crossing, improvements to the 204th Avenue NE/77th Street NE intersection, installation of the 40th Avenue NE/172nd Street NE intersection, improvements to the Smokey Point Blvd. and SR 530 intersection and $2.6 million in pavement preservation work.

A large portion of the city budget goes to staff — the people who keep the doors open and the machines running. The budget includes two new police officers and three firefighters/EMS, and two new administrative assistants.

Public safety consumes 53 percent of the general fund — a lot less this year, as EMS receives assistance from the new ambulance utility fee. New firefighters are being funded by a federal grant.

New expenses in this budget include per capita funding for Snohomish Health District, the Affordable Housing Alliance and the Regional Economic Development Agency.

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