Bothell approves its $217.3 million budget

For Bothell residents and property owners, regarding the city’s just-passed two-year budget, the good news is the spending plan includes no increased property taxes for 2011.

City Council passed on the 1-percent increase it is permitted to take under state law. Legislators also turned down an administration suggestion for creation of a transportation benefit district. Creation of the district would have allowed Bothell to collect a $15 license-tab fee for every vehicle registered in the city.

“There was just no support for additional taxes at this time,” said Mayor Mark Lamb.

As previously announced, some bad news includes rate increases of 4.5 percent and 9.5 percent in water and sanitary sewer rates, respectively. Lamb and City Manager Bob Stowe have said those rate hikes are in direct response to increased water and sewer charges coming from King County.

“The issue here is we are essentially passing on a cost... When their rates go up, our rates go up,” Lamb said.

According to figures released by the city, Bothell’s water rates still would be the lowest in the immediate area. Assuming household consumption of 200 gallons per day, the average Bothell resident will pay $30.92 for water next year, an increase of $1.33.

In Kirkland, the same figure is $41.79. In Woodinville, the bill would be $39.21. For those living in the Northshore Utility District, the price is estimated at $35.33.

Regarding sewer rates, in 2010, the average Bothell residential bill was $49.56 per month, right in the middle of local rates.

In 2011, the same bill will increase to $54.27, still in the middle of the pack among local utilities. The figures again assume water usage of 200 gallons per day.

Overall, Bothell approved a $217.3 million budget, with $78.1 million going to the general fund.

The final plan contains nothing unexpected, Lamb said. Stowe had proposed the transportation benefit district as a means to replace a streetlight fee the city stopped collecting in 2009.

The light fee had brought in about $300,000 annually. The money was used to cover the cost of powering street lights, as well as some street programs. Stowe said Bothell had simply absorbed that loss of dollars in the past, but when recent budget talks began, he said the city could not continue to do so. Still, council simply balked at creating the district and imposing any license fees.

For now, in materials released by the city, Stowe said staff will monitor affected revenues and expenditures and determine if and when budget adjustments become needed.

On another front, Lamb said that despite the generally sluggish economy, mostly because of prior planning, the city will be moving forward with its ambitious capital improvement projects. That work includes the Crossroads and Wayne Curve projects already under way.

“Those projects already are fully funded,” Lamb said, referring to work that will realign the intersection of the city’s two state routes and revamp the roadway around the intersection of State Route 522 and 96th Avenue Northeast. Lamb said funding is coming from a combination of grants and money saved by the city for the work.

Moving forward, Bothell officials look to build a new municipal complex or so-called “city hall block.” According to Lamb, Bothell will be soliciting about 13 plans from potential developers.

After some debate, council settled last year on the current location of Bothell City Hall as the future location of a new Bothell city hall. To date, plans call for a roughly 50,000-square-foot building and a plaza for public events along with space for retail and housing. The project is slated to get under way in 2012, though the start could possibly be moved forward to 2011.

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