Editor's Note: The following press release is from the city of Lake Forest Park.
City Hall was the place to be Monday night, October 8, 2012. Lake Forest Park's Mayor Mary Jane Goss, City Administrator Pete Rose, and Department Directors invited the community to a Budget Open House to help plan for the City budget for 2013 -2014.
The Budget Open House included a presentation on Municipal Budget 101 by Finance Director Steve Nolen. The City's largest revenue source, the regular property tax levy, can only grow by 1 percent per year by law. Other revenue sources such as shared liquor excise tax from the state have been reduced by the State Legistlature. As City expenditures such as salaries, benefits, and supplies grow with or faster than inflation, the City faces a challenge referred to as a "structural deficit". With little commercial property available to generate sales taxes, the City has limited ability for economic development and very difficult choices in order to maintain legally required services and citizen-desired programs, funding and level of service.
Pete Rose, City Administrator, said that while there are new eyes examining the City's finances, the challenges remain the same, namely revenues not keeping up with expenditures. Staff cuts have been successful in the past as a strategy, but the City is now at minimum staffing levels in many areas. While the administration must balance the budget, there will be tough choices ahead as the 2013 - 2014 budget is drafted.
Citizens were able to view 2012 Budget & Activity Summaries for each City Department and ask the Mayor, City Council, the City Administrator, and department managers questions concerning City operations. Citizens gave feedback on flip charts, a confidential comment box, and comments during an "open-mike" session.
The Mayor's recommended budget for 2013 - 2014 is due to City Council on October 25, 2012.