KENNEWICK — Kennewick's next biennial budget will be based on priorities, not simply on finding enough money to do business as usual, the city council learned at Tuesday's workshop.
City Manager Bob Hammond and Marie Mosley, director of support services, told the council that the 2011-12 spending plan that must be adopted by Nov. 16 will consider what the council has determined as priorities, which will determine what programs will be included, expanded or pared back.
Finding alternative revenue sources and new ways to work with the other Tri-City communities will be important to making the most of resources, Mayor Steve Young said.
"We need to work together. All four cities are shuffling through ideas, trying to come up with ways to solve problems," Young said, commenting about what he heard at a recent meeting of the mayors.
"Anything we can partner on with other cities can save us money. For example, Richland plans to build a new fire station. So do we, so why not use the same architect and save $300,000 or $400,000?" said Councilman Paul Parish.
Councilman Bob Parks said the city should consider forming a metropolitan parks district as a way to pay for what citizens want, if they will support it.
Hammond said the council and staff will look at the baseline budget and budgeting priorities to produce the next budget.
"Everything has to be viewed together," he said.
The combined approach means everything will be evaluated to best identify costs and to determine how to provide services, Hammond said.
Tuesday's workshop was the second of five planned for this summer and fall to receive public input.
But there also will be council committee meetings to further define priorities that will help the council in creating the budget.
Mosley noted that the new budgeting process has seven key areas: tourism and recreation; community safety; community planning; transportation and infrastructure; economic development; community health and environment; and excellence in service.
The council also needs to keep focused on its stated top priorities as identified this spring at a council retreat.
They are: developing a work plan for the Southridge area as it develops; extending Steptoe Street; further development of the Three Rivers Entertainment Center; the biennial budgeting process; and establishing a new cash reserve policy.
The good news, Hammond said, is the city has seen better than expected sales tax revenues this year, at 6.6 percent better than a year ago, and that building permit fees are approximately 50 percent better than at this time in 2009.
* John Trumbo: 509-582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org