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City Councilmembers unanimously approve -$450,000 budget deficit with tax increase

What’s happening: On November 29, 2022, the City Council unanimously passed a budget that will result in Clyde Hill running a budget deficit of approximately -$490,000 in 2023. Spending will total $5.68 million, with expected revenue totaling $5.19 million. That’s the most significant deficit on record.

Why it matters: Balancing the budget requires a transfer from the City’s reserve fund. The City resorted to pulling from the reserve fund in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Four years of relying on the reserve fund to balance our budget is unsustainable and will make hard economic times harder.

What must be done: Our City Councilmembers must accept responsibility for the unsustainable budget deficit. They must then take clear and transparent action to adjust the problem. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be happening.

What they’re saying: Certain City Councilmembers are resorting to finger-pointing and attacks to evade responsibility for the budget deficit. Councilmember Hachamovitch publicly complained about the budget he voted for and which passed unanimously. He tried to blame – which, to reiterate, he supported – the Mayor’s Office.

Yes, but: While the Mayor’s Office is responsible for drafting an initial budget proposal, councilmembers are ultimately responsible for passing the budget. They can completely ignore the mayor’s budget proposal and draft a budget independently. They didn’t. Now they’re finger pointing.

The reality is that the City Council unanimously approved a budget increase with full knowledge of an impending deficit. The Council also approved a Property Tax increase of 1% as part of the budget. Minutes from the City Council meeting read:

Consideration of Ordinance #990 to adopt the 2023 Budget & Capital Facilities Plan for the fiscal year beginning on January 1, 2023.

By motion of Mr. Friedman and second by Mr. Muromoto, the Council approved Ordinance #990. The vote was unanimous.

The big picture: It’s the height of dishonesty to attempt to blame the deficit on the Mayor when the Council failed to write their own sustainable budget and voted to approve the draft budget unanimously. Any Councilmember participating in gaslighting the public should cease immediately.

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