City plans for less spending in 2014

Megan Wilkinson

The City of Kent spent just over $46 million in 2013 with the bulk of funds going to basic utilities, public safety and transportation, based on the city’s budget records.

City council approved the 2014 budget proposed by David Coffee, director of the Budget and Finance Department, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday prior to the city council meeting with minor adjustments to the budget plans.

City Budget for 2013 and 2014


City Budget for 2013

City Budget for 2014

Basic Utilities $10,122,476 $8,529,937
Public Safety $11,623,364 $11,893,425
Transportation $4,292,504 $3,376,805
General Government $3,182,431 $3,331,649
Debt Service $11,619,641 $6,072,196
Community and Environment $1,955,440 $1,933,160
Leisure Time Activities $3,091,945 $2,105,285
Health Services $577,185 $591,397
Contingency Operating $250,000 $250,000
Non-Departmental $1,000 $1,000
Total $46,715,986 $38,084,854

Top Three Sources of Revenue:

  1. Income Taxes
  2. User Charges (such as gas bills, electric bills, water bills)
  3. Other Revenue

Click here for the 2014 Recommended Budget Overview.

“We are optimistic that we won’t be having to dip at all, perhaps, into our reserves,” said Dave Ruller, city manager, at the meeting. “I’m still pleased it looks like we’re trending in the right direction.”

Brian Huff, CPA controller for the Budget and Finance department, said the city will spend about $38 million, according to the city’s 2014 budget plan, significantly less than what was spent in 2013. He said the city’s spending will stay close to that level for the next several years.

Huff said spending levels were more in 2013 with more ongoing projects such as completing the redevelopment of downtown Kent.

“We’ve had several years of spiked investment,” Huff said. “But next year is a relatively normal year, if there is such a thing as a normal year.”

Huff said the proposed 2014 budget did not include plans for funding the new police station based on whether Issue 4 passed. The issue, which passed, will implement a .25 percent increase in income taxes to fund a new police department.

Huff said because it passed, there will likely be an increase in spending in public safety for Kent compared to what was in the proposed budget.

Coffee said it is better for the city financially that Issue 4 passed.

“Had it not passed, we would have been working at severely adjusting the 2014 budget with no additional revenue, yet still needing a new police facility,” Coffee said.

While there will be a cut in spending city revenue, Huff said there are still some big expenses to be made in 2014 such as the following:

  • Fire Vehicle Replacement: $850,000
  • Community Development Grant: $275,277
  • Redmond Bridge project: $171,800
  • Summit Street Traffic Signal Coordination: $90,000

Note: ** These numbers are not exact but are an estimate made by the Budget and Finance Department of what will be allotted for each project. **

The $850,000 fire truck replacement expense was not a surprise to council members. Huff said the city has a capital plan that schedules when city vehicles will be replaced unless there is an accident that throws the schedule off.

“Things such as fire engines are expensive,” Huff said. “That’s why there is a plan to assess what’s needed to be replaced which we review every five years and as needed.”

Kent Fire Chief Dave Manthey said the Fire Department will be replacing truck number 1813, a 1991 engine that includes a 65-foot ladder.

“We try to get 20 to 25 years out of the trucks due to the price,” Manthey said. “This vehicle is due up.”

Manthey said the Fire Department contracted Pierce Manufacturing Inc. in Appleton, Wisc., to custom-build a replacement fire truck for $660,000, which is less than the allotted $850,000 for the project. He said the money not going to the new fire truck will be saved for future vehicle replacements in the city.

“We understand the financial situation of the city, and we do what we can to help that out,” Manthey said.

The main source of revenue in Kent is from income taxes, followed by user charges and other revenue sources. With income tax, Huff said he estimates the city will receive about $12.4 million in income tax in 2014 but said that number would also be adjusted with the upcoming .25 percent increase in that tax from Issue 4.

Although students might not think the budget affects them, Coffee said the city’s budget has an impact on everyone who visits, lives, studies or works in Kent.

“The budget reflects the quality of life in the Kent community in terms of things to enjoy, safety, protections and services,” Coffee said.

Contact Megan Wilkinson [email protected].