Reports of Normandy Park’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, according to city officials.
Normandy Park officials, responding to reports in other media outlets, that the city may disband or seek annexation to Burien or Des Moines, issued a statement on the city’s website Thursday.
The statement emphasized, “Disincorporation is not an option under consideration by the City Council or City management as reported recently by media sources.”
The statement said Normandy Park’s financial problems had first been identified in 1998 by a consulting firm. The consultant recommended about 40 ideas and solutions to address the city’s structural financial problems.
But the City Council, at that time, only implemented a few of the recommendations, “kicking the can down the road for a few years,” according to the statement. A good economy between 2000 and 2007 helped mask some of the structural problems.
But with an economic downturn the solutions have become more difficult.
Officials said city staffers have been working closely with the current City Council members to identify both short and long-term solutions.
One possible short-term solution for the budget’s $1.2 million shortfall is a levy lid lift that will be before voters in the Nov.6 election. If approved, property taxes could be raised 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value. City Manager Dough Schulze said that would raise another $300,00 each year.
The City Council voted 6-1 on June 12 to place the levy lid lift on the ballot. Newly elected Councilwoman Stacia Jenkins was the lone dissenting vote. She argued that lawmakers should identify a long-term fix before asking for more taxes.
Other ideas for the short-term are creation of a Transportation Benefit District, imposition of franchise fees on utilities and levying a 6 percent tax on the Stormwater Utility Fund.
The council has formed an Economic Development Committee chaired by Councilwoman Susan West, a former TV news reporter. The committee would seek to attract new businesses and enhance existing businesses. Most Highline cities have an economic development director on staff.
The lack of businesses and multi-family housing have hurt Normandy Park financially, leading to a possible over-reliance on property taxes from single-family residences for city revenues.
Staffers had hoped that the creation of the Normandy Park Towne Center at First Avenue South and South 200th Street would bring in significant extra revenue. However, like the Burien Town Square project, it opened just as the economy turned sour.
The city is working to expand the area around the Manhattan Village shopping center to allow for more retail and multi-family uses.
The city projects it needs about $1.2 million in new funding to provide a moderate level of service. Going ahead with the short-term solution, including the Levy Lid Lift, would bring in about $600,000 annually.
Fortunately, Normandy Park does not have a significant amount of debt, according to city officials. They say Normandy Park will not have any bonded indebtedness by the end of 2015.
The council set a 2012 general fund budget of $3.9 million to operate police, parks community development, administrative and finance services.
Nearly $1 million has been cut this year.
As in most cities, public safety takes the biggest bite out of the budget. The annual budget for police is $1.9 million, about 49 percent of the general fund budget.
City officials point out that during the past six years, over $2.1 million in expenditures have been cut. Eleven staff positions have been eliminated and the city has deferred maintenance of facilities, streets and sidewalks, staffers add.
Here is our previous coverage:
The city of Normandy Park emphasized Thursday night that city officials are not planning to disband the city or seek annexation to Burien or Des Moines, contrary to stories in other media outlets.
The statement, in part, said, ”Disincorporation is not an option under consideration by the City Council or City management as reported recently by media sources.
Here is the complete statement from the city:
City Strategies to Address Financial Distress
The City’s financial problem was first identified in 1998 when Henderson, Young and Company completed a Financial Plan and Outlook for the City of Normandy Park. The recommendations from the Plan included approximately 40 ideas and solutions to address the City’s structural financial problems.
However, the City Council at that time only implemented a few solutions, which resulted in
“kicking the can down the road” a few years. During the period from 2000 – 2007, economic growth was significant and exceeded the projections. Today, the problem is even more difficult to solve because of
the poor economy. Members of the Normandy Park City Council have worked closely with city management to identify several short-term solutions as well as long-term solutions to create a sustainable financial position for the City of Normandy Park. Disincorporation is not an option under consideration by the City Council or City management as reported recently by media sources.
Possible short-term solutions include the levy lid lift, creation of a Transportation Benefit District, imposing franchise fees on utilities and a 6% utility tax on the Stormwater Utility Fund.
In addition, an Economic Development Committee, led by Councilmember Susan West, has been formed to attract and enhance new and existing businesses.
City management projections suggest new funding of $1.2 million is needed to provide a moderate level of service. Implementation of the short-term solutions is projected to generate approximately $600,000 annually.
Fortunately, the City of Normandy Park does not have a significant amount of debt. By the end of 2015, the City will have no bonded indebtedness.
The City’s 2012 adopted operating budget included $3.9 million in expenditures, which provides funding for police, parks, community development, administrative and finance services, of which nearly $1 million has been cut in 2012.
The annual budget for the police department is $1.9 million or, 49% of the operating budget. During the past six years, over $2.1 million of expenditures have been cut from the
budget, which includes reduction of eleven staff positions.
The City has also deferred maintenance of facilities, streets and sidewalks – a practice that is likely to increase costs in the future, but without adequate funding cannot be avoided
A Levy Lid Lift Fact Sheet, public informational meetings and focus groups are planned over the next three months to involve the community in discussions about the City’s financial situation and possible solutions.