On Monday, Nov. 19, the Snohomish County Council adopted the 2019 budget. 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 Snohomish County’s history. It began early this year when Executive Somers began meeting regularly with Council Chair Stephanie Wright and I 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 the taxpayers of Snohomish County that we recognize the growing tax burden which 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 which 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% fund balance (up from 11% 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 County Council to spend these funds. This ensures that we are only spending the money when it is absolutely necessary. The adopted 2019 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 this, 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 budget for Snohomish County reflects our commitment to fiscal responsibility and public safety that North County residents expect from their county 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 taxpayers throughout Snohomish County. I hope to continue to work with my fellow Councilmembers as well as the County Executive in future years to find ways to save money and keep Snohomish County government running efficiently.
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.