Council Roundup: November 18, 2021

Special City Council Meeting on Mid-biennium Budget Update
Posted on 12/02/2021
Illustration of document with dollar sign. City of Burien logo.

The Burien City Council hosted special meeting on the mid-biennium budget update. They adopted an increase to surface water management fees and property tax levy. They also discussed increasing the per capita rate for the Human Services Fund and changing the policy to re-evaluate the rate from every two years to every year. The City Council also discussed key areas of the budget with final adoption of the budget scheduled for December 6, 2021.

New Surface Water Management Fees Reflect Inflation and New Regulatory Requirements

Surface water fees are the primary revenue source for the maintenance and improvement of the City’s stormwater system. The stormwater system helps manage water that flows across impermeable surfaces to prevent flooding, prevent and mitigate habitat loss, and improve water quality before water reaches the Puget Sound.

Staff provided a detailed overview of the current system’s operating and maintenance needs. They also detailed how they use these fees to leverage grants from state and federal sources, many of which require a local financial match, to pay for larger stormwater infrastructure projects. The City is also required to provide education to comply with the City’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. New state requirements to implement stormwater management action planning and to implement a new pollutant source control program will go into effect in 2022 and will require significant staff time and resources to comply. Additional budget will be needed in 2023 to meet these new permit requirements. 

To keep up with inflation and not erode purchasing power, cities across the region are raising their surface water management fees. These fees are paid by all property owners as part of their property tax bill. Burien’s rates, even after the 5.5% increase, are much lower than neighboring jurisdictions such as Des Moines, Auburn, and King County.

Adoption of Ordinance No. 785, Property Tax Levy

The City Council increased the property tax levy by 1%, changing the new rate to $.92818 per $1,000 assessed value. The annual increase is set by the City’s financial policies and is limited by state law.

Homes that are valued the same as the median home value of King County ($458,000) will owe approximately the same amount of property tax.

People who have disabilities and older adults who meet certain income requirements can apply for a property tax exemption through King County Assessor’s Office.

New Human Services Fund Rate to Help Funding for Essential Social Services Keep Up with Inflation

The City Council discussed an update to the City’s financial policies, increasing the rate for the Human Services Fund from $6.56 per capita to $6.92 per capita. They also voted to review this rate annually to better help human services funding keep up with inflation.

Mid-biennium Budget Update Reflects Priorities Identified in City Council Retreat and ARPA Funding Opportunities

Finance staff presented an overview of key updates to the budget and how they matched priorities identified by the City Council during their retreat held in March. The City Council also discussed increases to building plan review revenues and proposals for use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. Staff presented more information about a proposal to use ARPA funding to pay for network infrastructure improvements, upgrades to City Council chambers and City facility meeting rooms to support a hybrid workforce, and a cybersecurity audit to protect the City from cyberattacks. Money has also set aside for other major infrastructure projects including a joint public works, parks, and emergency management facility.