Potholes get priority in Tacoma budget survey

Given an imaginary budget to divide, council members lean toward street maintenance

ryan.tarinelli@thenewstribune.comJune 18, 2014 

Tacoma City Council members want to increase funding for street repairs and maintenance in the two-year budget that begins in January.

They also would consider reducing funding to city-sponsored special events such as Freedom Fair and First Night and other city services.

Those were among the findings from a council survey conducted by the city budget office. The results were presented at a council meeting Tuesday.

Tadd Wille, city budget officer, said the feedback helps inform the proposed budget that will be given to the council in early October.

“It is a key part of our budget development process,” Wille said.

Council members were asked to rate the importance of specific city services and to say how they would divvy up a mock budget of $10 across city departments.

In the budget exercise, council members said they wanted to spend less in nearly every department except public works.

The survey showed the council hopes to spend money on a backlog of maintenance on city property and to fund some new projects such as the Eastside Community Center.

Council members also said they would support reducing funding to senior centers, as well as “fire prevention, education and emergency management.”

Results were less conclusive in some areas, with council members disagreeing about the importance of city services such as housing and homeless services, code enforcement and small business support, said Katie Johnston, a budget analyst with the city.

Councilman Ryan Mello said the survey did not take into account revenue options, something he anticipates the council will consider in the next budget.

Johnston said citizens can give input on the budget at five public meetings that will be held in July and early August.

She said the budget department also will create a website where citizens can comment on the budget and fill out a survey similar to the council member survey.

Ryan Tarinelli: 253-597-8670 ryan.tarinelli@thenewstribune.com

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