On November 12th, the Snohomish County Council adopted its first $1 billion budget. In this month’s column, I will highlight how that money is appropriated and where the revenue comes from.
The General Fund is where most of the attention is paid during the budget process. The General Fund is home to many of the critical functions of county government including public safety, courts, human services, planning, parks and recreation, assessor, auditor, finance, human resources, and the treasurer. This year, the general fund will spend just over $268 million with more than 75% of that amount being spent on law and justice. For the third year in a row, we were able to balance the general fund without increasing the general property tax levy. I am proud of the work we have done for the past three years to balance the general fund without raising the general property tax levy on residents who are already feeling a significant tax burden.
The adopted 2020 budget includes funding for Prosecuting Attorney Adam Cornell’s “Innovative Justice Initiative.” Under this program, Cornell will reverse the “2-gram policy” which refused prosecution of individuals in possession of less than 2 grams of illicit drugs.
The budget allocates $1.6 million into the County’s revenue stabilization fund (rainy day fund). This fundwill help the County maintain our levels of service when revenues might dip based on the economy. The Council has shown fiscal responsibility by putting money away while the economy is good and revenues are at a surplus. Over the past three budgets, Council has put nearly $4.4 million into the revenue stabilization fund. I am proud that we have shown fiscal restraint and taken these steps.
The budget also includes the County Roads Fund which funds the projects our public works department does on the over 200 bridges and 1,650 miles of roads that make up our county roads network. The county plans its transportation projects in a 6-year plan called the Transportation Improvement Plan. In the 2020-2025 plan, there are major investments in North Snohomish County including:
- $4.9 million for major intersection improvements at 67th Ave. NE/152nd St. NE.
- $1.5 million for capacity and safety improvements on 88th St. NE (in partnership with the City of Marysville).
- $1.3 million for drainage improvements on Sauk Prairie Road.
- $710,000 for safety improvements at 84th St. NE/115th Ave. NE.
In addition to roads projects, the budget includes significant investments in North County Parks. Many of these projects are funded by grants and our Parks Department does a great job at leveraging local dollars to fund these projects. The 2020-2025 Capital Improvement Program includes:
- $1 million for Whitehorse Trail Improvements.
- $1 million for Whitehorse Park Improvements.
- $1 million for the SR 530 Memorial.
- $16.5 million for Kayak Point Park.
I am proud of this budget and thank the County Executive and rest of Council for their work on making it a success.
Nate Nehring is a member of the Snohomish County Council and represents District 1 which includes Arlington, Darrington, Granite Falls, Marysville, Stanwood, and unincorporated north county. He can be reached by email at Nate.Nehring@snoco.org or by phone at (425) 388-3494.