Council approves mid-biennium budget

Tacoma City Councilmembers unanimously approved a mid-biennium adjustment to the city’s budget, resulting in increased funding for libraries, speedier improvements to city streets, and creation of a community-based services pilot program.

“It really is a new day for Tacoma,” said Councilmember Mike Lonergan, referring to $800,000 of one-time funds that would be split among the city’s eight neighborhood councils to fix streets, sidewalks, and lighting. Similarly, one-time funds of $268,000 will go toward traffic and pedestrian safety improvements in the city’s neighborhood business districts.

“We’ve taken great pains to reorganize city government without cutting front-line services,” Lonergan added.

The City will also set aside $130,000 of one-time funds to pay for consulting services in 2006, collectively add $13,500 to the neighborhood councils and $10,000 to the cross-business districts, and spend $222,700 to end the rolling closures at Tacoma libraries.

Still, the new general fund budget, which totals $369 million through 2006, comes with some sacrifices at City Hall. The City will eliminate 41 positions (21 of which are currently filled) as part of a reorganization that will keep the police department’s community liaison officer program, and prevent closing Tacoma Fire Department Station 13.

The mid-biennium budget also sets aside $800,000 for a community-based services pilot program in four Tacoma neighborhoods. The program will create a team of two code enforcement officers, two community development specialists, and two police officers to address neighborhood problems.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the council also authorized City Manager Eric Anderson to investigate a plan to eliminate property and B&O taxes, reduce the utility tax, and introduce monthly user fees for police, fire, and library services. The council voted 7-2 to create a stakeholder task force of representatives from the business community, neighborhoods, and non-profit and civic organizations to analyze the proposal and its impacts, and make recommendations to the council by next summer.

Councilmembers Tom Stenger and Lonergan voted against the authorization.

“I adamantly discourage us from spending time moving down this dead-end road,” said Lonergan. Though he said he supported the city manager’s work on the budget, he has also heard from a number of constituents who oppose the tax-for-service plan.

For more information about the city budget, visit