Dollars and sense

The culmination of thousands of hours of work and a depressing amount of paper is ending as I finalize the 2019 budget I will submit to the Council in September.

Creating the budget every year may be a bit daunting but it’s a critical exercise in aligning the funds taxpayers provide with our priorities and our residents’ needs and expectations.

It probably would not surprise you to learn that we received many millions more in requests than the funds we will have available to invest and spend. As a result, a work group from Finance and the Executive team has been spending much of our last two months in a windowless conference room on the 7th Floor.  We have been evaluating department plans and budget requests, assessing where our scarce resources must be invested.

Our conversations around the conference room table remind me a bit of the conversations some of you may also have had around your family kitchen table growing up. Do you remember the old “want” versus “need” chat? I certainly do.

It’s my responsibility to make sure we are on firm, stable financial footing not for just next year but for the next 5, even 10, years from now.  We may have had a nice rebound from the Recession but I also realize that economic conditions move in cycles and we must prepare for a potential slowdown ahead.  In fact, we’ve already seen signs of a softening housing market.

My thanks to Gary Robinson, Jim Dickman and Julie Demuth for their tremendous work and long hours on developing the 2019 budget.  I also appreciate the time and effort of our department directors, and their financial managers, as they prepared their budgets – and responded to numerous questions and explored options. We will formally introduce the budget to the Council on September 18th.

Perhaps the budget process will be easier in future years should voters approve the biennial charter amendment.

Switching gears, it’s also that time of the year where we celebrate and recognize some stellar performances by our colleagues and co-workers!  The nominations for the annual Standing Ovation Awards have been released, and I want to add my hearty “woo hoo” to the chorus of cheers.

There were 37 people nominated in the Innovation category, 5 individuals in the Leadership category, 25 people nominated in the Partners in Service category and 2 in the Sustainability category. You can check out the full list here.  I hope you will join us at the reception on Thursday, October 24th to congratulate our award recipients and recognize those celebrating a milestone work anniversary.

Finally, I know you join me in wishing Godspeed and good luck to our Washington Task Force 1 (WA-TF1) as they prepare to support Hawaii residents expected to be impacted by Hurricane Lane.

WA-TF1 is a specially trained and equipped Urban Search and Rescue Task Force consisting of 26 participating agencies from three primary jurisdictions: Seattle Fire, King County and Pierce County.

This week, we had 35 people fly out to Hawaii from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Mount Rainier Emergency Physicians, South King Fire & Rescue, Seattle Fire, Tacoma Fire, Shoreline Fire, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue, Redmond Fire, Woodinville Fire, Mercer Island Fire, Tukwila Fire, Valley Regional Fire & Rescue, and Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) Fire.

My thanks to our Emergency Management team who facilitated the deployment process.