After weeks of deliberation and many difficult decisions regarding the coming year, Blaine City Council members finally approved the 2013 city budget on December 10.
Facing a shortfall of more than $535,000 in revenue due to the closure of the Semiahmoo Resort, the city’s largest hotel/motel tax provider, the 2013 budget is a thin resemblance of its former self. With expenditures for the city expected to increase by 7 percent in 2013 and revenues expected to decrease by 5 percent, allocations for city services have been significantly reduced to address the lack of funds, and city officials have carefully whittled away at expenditures to make ends meet.
Budget cuts include significant decreases in funding for the senior’s center, the Boys & Girls Club, street maintenance, court services and the information technology program, among others.
It will also require the city to lay off several city employees and leave two open police officer positions vacant.
“We’ve put a lot of work into the budget and we’ve had numerous study sessions,” finance director Jeffrey Lazenby said of the process.
In order to increase revenues, the city opted to increase the levy increase by 3 percent and have upped the cost of a business license from $65 to $75.
Council held public hearings to discuss the budget on November 13 and 26.
The proposed budget of $31,951,716 was approved 7-0.