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Tag: Budget news


Tacoma: City Council questions discrepancies in revenue forecasts for budget

Blame it on La Nina – or perhaps just radically divergent budget philosophies.

Whichever the case, the Tacoma City Council is now questioning a $6.6 million discrepancy of projected utilities tax revenues built into City Manager Eric Anderson’s proposed city budget for the coming two years.


And, judging by reaction from at least one council member Tuesday, the disputed figure in Anderson’s spending plan should be changed before the council ultimately approves the 2011-12 general fund budget by year’s end.

“I think we have to go back to the drawing board on our revenue assumptions,” Councilman Jake Fey said. “… The proposed budget from the city manager needs to be reduced by $6.6 million.”

If that happens, Anderson likely will need to find trims equaling that amount elsewhere.

“If the council wants me to reduce it, I’ll do what they want me to do,” Anderson said. “I just don’t know how yet.”

The discrepancy at issue comes in projections for so-called “gross earnings taxes” – a business tax levied on total revenues garnered from the city’s power, water, rail and Click! utilities. When putting together their respective budgets for the coming two years, the city’s general government and Tacoma Public Utilities budget officials separately estimated similar tax revenues from all of the utilities – except power.
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Tacoma’s city budget: $43 million of “revisions” — and counting?

In today’s TNT, I covered the latest city budget briefing, presented Tuesday to the Tacoma City Council by City Manager Eric Anderson and Finance Director Bob Biles.

Stagnant revenue collections in the last quarter of 2009, combined with shortfalls carried over from the previous three quarters, left the city facing a $12 million budget gap heading into 2010, the second year of the city’s biannual budget cycle.

On Tuesday, Biles and Anderson detailed for City Council members the latest round of $12 million in budget “revisions” to get the General Fund flush heading into the New Year.  The bulk of the latest adjustments came from reducing  surplus contributions to police and firefighter pension funds by $8.6 million.

When added to adjustments made during the first three quarters of 2009, the latest round of trims brings the total of downward adjustments made so far to the $443 million 09-10 budget to $42.8 million.

“We do not believe these cuts reduce services to the community,” Anderson told me yesterday.

If that’s the case, does that mean the city’s budget was $43 million fatter than it needed to be?
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