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Federal Way faces $4.5 million budget deficit; layoffs are inevitable

As the city prepares to launch itself into budget deliberations, management staff has vowed to solicit public comment on the process at several open meetings.

Federal Way's 2011-2012 deficit is estimated at $4.5 million‚ roughly 11 percent of the operating budget. May and June were spent developing a preliminary budget. Management in each of the city departments — community development; finance and accounting; parks, recreation and cultural development; public works; human resources; information technology; law; police and the municipal court — were instructed to present an outline of where cuts can be made. City Manager Brian Wilson will decide what cuts will become final. The city council will have to approve Wilson's budget before it goes into effect.

Layoffs are inevitable and will come from all areas of staffing, including the police department. The department accounts for roughly 50 percent of the city's staff and employs administrative personnel and officers. Wilson said his goal is to present a fair and balanced budget that satisfies the city council and the public without increasing taxpayers' burden.

"We only have so much money; we are not asking for additional taxes or fees," Wilson said. "My task is to present a budget that reflects the revenue that we have."

Community involvement

In the upcoming months, the city plans to solicit feedback from the community. Staff will attend community group and commission meetings in August and September to speak about the budget process. Comments, input and questions are welcome. More information will be made available in August regarding the scheduled presentations.

In late fall, more about the proposed budget will be revealed by Wilson and management staff.

• Wilson is due to deliver his preliminary budget to the city council at the 7 p.m. Oct. 19 city council meeting.

• A special meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 27. A budget overview and presentations from the community development, public works and parks departments will be given.

• Another special meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 28. The police and law departments, as well as the municipal court will give presentations about the budget and how it is expected to affect their respective departments.

• On Nov. 2, the administration and support services departments will present budget information at a 6 p.m. special meeting. The city council will also begin the 2011-2012 budget deliberations.

• A public hearing about the proposed budget and property tax levy will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 2.

• A 6 p.m. Nov. 16 special meeting may take place if the city council needs time to deliberate the proposed budget and comments taken at the public hearing.

• At a 7 p.m. regularly scheduled city council meeting on the same day, the public hearing will continue and ordinances regarding the 2011- 2012 budget and property tax levy will be introduced for a first reading.

A final budget will be approved in December. The budget and property tax levy rate will be enacted at a 7 p.m. Dec. 7 city council meeting.

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