Council takes up 2018 budget tonight–“crossover point” (deficit spending) appears to arrive years early

The long-awaited “crossover point” when deficit spending occurs for the Sammamish city budget—in recent years projected to be early next decade—may be here now.

The City Council takes up the budget tonight and a comparison of revised figures by Council Candidate Mark Baughman shows proposed expenditures exceed projected revenues by $4m.

“This isn’t analysis, but for Excel junkies it will help guide you to where the big numbers are, what’s changed, and some interesting data like the amount of operating budget being transferred to capital budget, the fact that our expenses exceed our revenue (partly because of the transfer),” Baughman wrote on the Sammamish Watch group on Facebook.

The “crossover point” is when deficit spending for the operating budget occurs. This point has been debated several times in the past, most notably in the past two years.

Council Member Ramiro Valderrama has been pushing for two years for in-depth study of Sammamish’s spending.

Council Member Ramiro Valderrama began pressing in 2015 for an in-depth analysis of operating and capital spending vs revenues, but his clarion calls were ignored by the leadership of the Council (at the time, then-Mayor Tom Vance and then-Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay). Vance was running for reelection and Valderrama’s questions about the city’s fiscal health were not welcome.

Following Vance’s defeat and a change in the City Manager (Ben Yazici retired; Lyman Howard, the deputy city manager, succeeded him), the Council received an update at the January 2016 retreat and a promise for an in-depth finance retreat.

But this wasn’t held until last summer and even then, it didn’t achieve the in-depth analysis Valderrama had hoped for.

At every turn, Howard said the crossover point wasn’t projected until 2020-23. This is for the operating budget only.

The identified, potential expenditures in the capital budget—which is currently funded by the operating budget and through grants—far exceeds what the operating budget can support.

Bonds, new taxes, more grants or increased revenue from the emerging Town Center will needed to fund the ambitious projects. The Transportation Improvement Plan, which identifies road projects for the next six years, IDs $165m in projects. Storm water management, parks and other projects are on top of this.

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