By Ken Armstrong, Mill Creek City Manager.
Editor’s note: This article is being published with the permission of the City of Mill Creek at no cost as a service to the community.
As I mentioned in a previous column, a lot has been written about the City’s Strategic Plan. Unfortunately, much of what was written portrays the Strategic Plan as being a tax instrument and that by approving the Strategic Plan, City Councilmembers were “indicating their support of the utility tax by including it in the Strategic Plan.” Actually, that is not the case.
The Strategic Plan appropriately includes a fiscal strategy that presents several funding options for maintaining the City’s economic and social health and vitality. In developing this fiscal strategy, the City Council maintained its approach of being fiscally prudent while also exploring ways to ensure adequate funding for future City services and facilities. The council was very specific that it wanted to see “that Mill Creek’s residents are assessed taxes and fees only as necessary.” One of the options that the City Council explored included ways to enhance and diversify City revenues, which primarily consist of local fees and taxes. The fiscal strategy provides a list of funding alternatives that “the City may wish to consider” [emphasis added]. The list of funding options examined includes:
- Seeking Local Revitalization Financing
- Implementing Utility Taxes
- Creating a Transportation Benefit District
- Banked Property Tax increases
- Increasing Fees
- Direct Sponsorship and Advertising
- Instituting a B&O Tax
As you can see, the Strategic Plan simply lays out and explores all funding options open to the City – a fiscally responsible thing to do. It makes no statement regarding which funding source(s) should or will be pursued in the future. With regard to a Utility Tax, the Strategic Plan states: “While the City Council is not eager to impose such a tax, even a relatively modest assessment can raise enough revenue to align the budget. And it can be terminated if and when revenues from other sources increase. It also spreads the burden across both owner occupants and renters.”
I will write more later about those funding options – the pros and cons of each – and let readers determine their relative merit. In the meantime, I will return to the topic of strategic planning. As stated previously, strategic planning is an effort that virtually all successful organizations conduct. Mill Creek’s 2012 strategic planning process resulted in the promulgation of a strategic plan that articulated six broad goals:
- Maintain Mill Creek’s Community Character
- Provide an adequate level of quality public facilities in a fiscally prudent manner
- Provide a high level of quality public services to the citizens of Mill Creek
- Ensure that Mill Creek maintains a stable fiscal footing
- Enhance economic and employment opportunities in Mill Creek
- Ensure that new growth and development is high quality and provides a benefit to Mill Creek
In the next few issues I will talk about what the City’s Strategic Plan says about each of those goals, how they were developed and how they will help guide the City in the future.
As always, please feel free to contact me or drop by – I welcome your feedback!
You can contact Ken at 425-921-5724 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.