Lynnwood faces rough road

By Terrah Short

The renovation of the Lynnwood Recreation Center has been underway for some time now, but do residents really know all the things affected by the money spent?
The Recreation Center plans began in July 2007. There were 15 community meetings, and there has been a high amount of community support. The largest single capital project in the Lynnwood’s history, in November 2008, the $22 million renovation was approved.
The construction alone would be $17 million, but the total cost was around $25.5 million – $3.5 million over budget.
As a city, Lynnwood is facing a $20 million deficit, though in part caused by the recession, will likely extend itself over the next two years with a small chance of anything changing to shorten that span. Expecting income of $87 million, the city had requested $102.6 million, resulting in the deficit; the city also violated its own city resolution made in 2005 to maintain a $4 million cash reserve.
The 2010 budget is stable as of now and employees have been budgeted through Dec. 31, but it is necessary for city administration to consider position reductions because they have to present a balanced 2011-12 budget early next month.
The city recently informed 102 employees that their positions are at risk for a layoff in January 2011.
In order to help lessen the burden of this deficit and to help pay for the renovation of the Recreation Center, utility taxes have gone up on electricity and television cable, and the cuts are hitting public safety departments the hardest.
The Lynnwood Police Department is expecting about a $9 million budget cut, that being 25 percent of their already minimalist budget, and will cost about 20 officers their jobs, along with three confinement officers, three police cadets, four police clerks, three reserve officers, four crime prevention specialists, and two animal control officers
Additionally, the fire department is facing heavy cuts as well; the jobs at risk are 12 fire fighting positions, one fire inspector, and one fire station paramedic. Their budget is being cut by $4.3 million, which is crippling and may lead to two of the fire stations to close in the upcoming years.