Public safety, additional staff highlight 2014 budget
December 4, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
The Newcastle City Council wrapped up its 2014 budget deliberations in early December, finishing a process that began with a July retreat, and ends with a sizable projected surplus.
Boosted mainly by incoming development revenue, and improving sales tax funds, city finances appear relatively sound for the short-term future, with an anticipated surplus of more than $100,000 in 2014.
The budget does not add any new taxes, with the council deciding against taking an allowable 1 percent increase in property tax for the second straight year.
“It is generally speaking inappropriate to ask for tax increases when you have a surplus forecasted,” Councilman Bill Erxleben said.
Next year’s budget will improve public safety, bumping Newcastle Detective Christy Marsalisi’s position to a full-time role, a decision that was made in June.
Newcastle is the only King County partner city that does not have its own full-time detective, though the council did increase Marsalisi to a 50-50 shared position for 2013.
In the current system, Marsalisi spends half of her time working for the city, and the other half working for the unincorporated areas of King County. Once she is bumped to full time, which will likely occur Jan. 1, 2014, she will focus solely on Newcastle cases.
Moving Marsalisi to full time costs an additional $86,000 annually, but it is something that Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine said is important.
“In order for us to investigate all the crimes, we have to have a detective that can commit the time to Newcastle, and when she’s split between Newcastle and various areas of unincorporated, and different responsibilities, it’s spreading really thin and it’s tough,” Irvine said in June.
The 2014 budget also calls for three additional full-time staff members.
A surface water maintenance technician will help with the city’s growing drainage infrastructure, while a senior development review engineer will assist with the review of documents connected with Newcastle’s development projects, such as Mutual Materials.
The technician’s salary would be about $45,000 plus benefits, and the engineer would make about $80,000 plus benefits.
Finally, a newly created community activities liaison will assist in the planning of city events, and work alongside the Community Activities Commission, while providing outreach to city volunteer organizations.
The liaison’s salary would be about $47,000 plus benefits.
The city will spend significantly less on pavement overlay in 2014, just more than $280,000, one year after it expended more than $1.5 million. A majority of those funds were necessarily used to fix a deteriorating Coal Creek Parkway, though.
Staff will also work on 125th Avenue Southeast sidewalk improvements and conduct a Southeast 89th Place bike and pedestrian improvement study.