Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon presented his proposed 2013 budget Friday.
The proposed General Fund budget remains relatively flat at just more than $211 million with expenditures projected to grow by less than 2.5 percent. The overall county budget for 2013 is expected to be about $649 million, including increased capital expenditures at the airport and Brightwater mitigation funds for parks.
“The budget I present today is marked by necessary restraint and discipline,” Reardon said. “Our resources are limited and our spending plans must be as well.
“This discipline is key to our ability to continue making important investments in our community’s economy and infrastructure,” he added.
Public safety spending still accounts for the largest portion of the general fund budget at more than 73 percent. It also accounts for the largest gains in staffing with the inclusion of 15 new deputies to account for a contract approved earlier this year with the City of Snohomish.
“Since 2001, the county’s general fund commitment to public safety has grown by more than $54 million,” Reardon said. “During that same period, while our population has grown by more than 100,000 people, expenditures have grown by only $2 million for all other non-law and justice services supported by the general fund. This includes services that provide for veterans and seniors, park operations, community development, elections and all of the basic internal services that keep our county operational.”
General fund staffing levels in other departments will remain essentially the same as in the 2012 budget. Across all funds, staff will increase by about 1 percent with some new positions in the county’s Planning and Development Services Department due to increased permitting activity.
Improvements to the county’s airport in 2013 will allow for the continued expansion of the region’s aerospace industry, adding jobs to the already growing field, Reardon said. Parks additions, paid for predominantly through mitigation funds, also highlight the community’s desires for improved quality of life, he said.
Reardon also cautioned county leaders that lean times would continue for the county but noted that Snohomish County has consistently overcome the fiscal challenges presented by the Great Recession.
“Showing the discipline to save and plan for the future is critical to future investments and protecting core services,” he said. “While I understand how difficult it is to show such restraint when we always wish to do more, I once again urge the Council to join with me in maintaining this important principle.”
Reardon also thanked the other separately elected officials and county employees for their sacrifices during these difficult years.
“From our elected officials and appointed department heads to front-line staff, each and every county employee’s commitment to service is vital to our current and future success,” he said. “Once again, each of these leaders has stepped up to the challenge of delivering the services our people demand within the confines of tightly constrained funding.”
To view the Executive’s proposed 2013 budget or to read his comments, go to www.snoco.org.