Special ordinances passed by Spokane City Council to achieve balance in 2024 budget

On Monday, the City of Spokane took action to rectify its 2024 budget by passing five special budget ordinances (SBO). The city aims to finalize the corrections before embarking on the process of drafting next year’s budget in the upcoming months.

Spokane’s $1.2 billion budget is comprised of various funds, and the recent ordinances have redistributed the funds to ensure a balanced budget by the end of the year. This approval marks a turning point for Spokane, breaking the cycle that led to its $50 million structural deficit.

Mayor Lisa Brown mentioned in a previous meeting that the General Fund may finish the year with a surplus of around $500,000. Nevertheless, instead of keeping the surplus, the city council decided to allocate the funds to Spokane’s Traffic Calming Fund.

In order to manage the city’s Enterprise funds, the initial SBO implemented some changes. The ordinance involved reallocating approximately $1.4 million to the Water-Wastewater Fund of the city to address the over-budget utility tax revenue. Furthermore, an amount of around $3.35 million was allocated to the Solid Waste Fund, which also accounted for some utility tax revenue.

In the second SBO, modifications were made to the General Fund which resulted in a boost of around $1.8 million in revenue. This additional revenue was allocated to cover expenses such as police overtime, three fresh job positions, and the “Non Departmental department.”

Roughly $2.8 million is added by the SBO to General Fund appropriations, covering a wide range of departments such as law enforcement, finance, budget, and more. The General Fund is known for its flexibility and is utilized for various purposes, with special attention given to police and fire departments.

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On the other hand, appropriations are reduced by more than $900,000 in the second SBO due to the elimination of positions, other cuts, and transfers to and from different departments, taking into account the wages.

In the third SBO, the city’s Internal Services funds are being adjusted. This involves increasing revenue in the Fleet Services Fund by $2.4 million to cover contracts, repairs, and maintenance. On the other hand, appropriations to the Management Information Services Fund will be decreased by approximately $206,000.

The Reprographics Fund will experience a decrease in appropriations by about $37,000, while the Utility Billing Fund will be reduced by $1,800, as per the decision made by the SBO.

In the fourth SBO, adjustments are made to the Special Revenue funds. The Public Safety and Crime Reduction Fund appropriations decrease by over $113,000 to accommodate the elimination of a position. Additionally, there is a combined decrease of $3,000 to the Library Fund and Park Fund.

The Forfeitures and Contributions Funds are set to receive a boost in appropriations of approximately $520,000 for various law enforcement expenses, while the Traffic Calming Measures Fund will see an additional $50,000 for fleet maintenance as a result of the SBO.

On Monday, the latest SBO was passed, which made several modifications to pay scales across the local government, taking into account the salary analysis of the city.

Erin Hut, the Director of Communications and Marketing for the city, provided clarification on the current state of the 2024 budget in an email to The Center Square.

According to Hut’s email, the budget situation is more complex than simply being over or under budget. The City is obligated to operate within a balanced budget by law, and they are currently doing so. The $50 million deficit being referred to is actually a structural gap caused by long-term commitments being made without identifying the necessary funds to uphold those commitments.

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In April, Brown revealed that the General Fund deficit had increased to $25 million since 2019, while the reserves had dropped from $28.4 million to approximately $7.6 million. However, despite this setback, the city remains optimistic about ending the year with a well-balanced budget and plans to address its structural gap in the upcoming year.

According to Hut’s email, the city remains within its budget, and there have been no changes to the city’s reserves. Additionally, the traffic calming fund has been slightly augmented.

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