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Budgets and buildings the focus at council meeting

  • Written by Don Mann
There were two pieces of ongoing business at Tuesday’s regularly scheduled Woodinville City Council meeting.

First, the council continued the public hearing on the 2011-2012 mid-biennial budget review and modification.

In his report, Woodinville Finance Director Jim Katica said there were only minor changes to the assumptions made when the two-year budget was adopted in December 2010, some of them more positive than others.

City revenues, he said, are $1.2 million, or three percent, more than projected as the city anticipated $39.5 million and now expects to take in $41.7 in the time frame.

Sales tax makes up $750,000 of the $1.2 million increase in revenue, he said, and the city in 2011 received nearly $400,000 more than anticipated from taxable events, mainly construction related. Additional sales taxes were also received from new businesses such as Panera, Ross and Big Fish Grill that filled vacant storefronts in the past year.

Property tax revenue, the second largest source of revenue, is at $2.9 million and about where it was projected, Katica said. Another significant source of general fund revenue is SST (streamlines sales tax) mitigation, budgeted at about $500,000 per year, though Katica said that source is always a concern because future state legislators may consider it an expenditure needed to be cut.

The finance director provided a quick look at other sources of revenue: Gas tax receipts are off a bit from forecast and the city may receive $50,000 less than expected. Revenue from development services, or permitting, is slightly higher than expected.

Revenue from the rental of the ball fields is less than expected as the city projected to receive about $135,000 annually from rentals but has taken in about half that amount. Utility taxes, admission taxes, park impact fees, traffic impact fees and surface water assessments are all in line with expectations, Katica said.

Second, the council had another go at Ordinance No. 524 which amends and clarifies development regulations for the downtown master plan area.

It was the ninth time council opened the public hearing and discussed first reading of the item, dating back to May 17, 2011.

At its previous meeting the council remanded a number of items to the planning commission for additional action and recommendation, including building height, residential density and where retail would be mandatory for new development at street level.

No citizen spoke during the public testimony portion of the hearing, which focused largely on the building height issue.

Existing code limits building height to 45 feet (with incentives) in the central and general business districts.

In an effort to lure development and tax dollars, it’s been recommended by the planning commission and city staff to extend the height limit to 51 feet (with incentives) and 60 feet with structured parking, plus 10 additional feet for a pitched roof.

After more discussion, the council, with several members admitting “heartache” over the issue, moved to continue the discussion to its December 6 meeting.

The next council meeting, November 8, will feature a discussion on summer concerts.

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