City of MLT teaches students about finances

By Nazia Khan

Mountlake Terrace City Manager John Caulfield came to MTHS to talk about the city’s finances on Oct. 13. Caulfield spoke about how property tax dollars are accumulated and spent.

Students who attended the presentation learned how restricted city revenues are and how they can be used. According to a document that was given out during the presentation, 77.3 percent of the general government, capital improvement and utility funds are legally restricted. For the 2011 year, $16,309,535  was part of the adopted budget of the general fund for the general government.

Street construction adopted $4,632,818 as part of the capital improvement. According to the Powerpoint presentation, a few of the city’s goals are to “protect and enhance the cities financial health and stability,” “generate economic development throughout the community” and “to maintain appropriate and essential public services in a cost effective manner.”

The utility, sales, gambling and admission tax has the highest percentage in supplying funds to the general government at 36 percent. The 2011 average property tax levy amount was $2,335, with $982 going to the Edmonds School District.

The government gets utility funds from “user fees collected for storm water, sewer and water.” Also, from revenue bonds and grants. Some capital improvement funds come from; real estate excise funds and investment interest, arterial motor vehicle tax, and voter approved bonds. Sidewalks, street reconstruction, park improvements, property management and public facilities are only a few things that the capital improvement funds pay for.

Other cities have had to cut back programs and lay off people from their jobs. Mountlake Terrace hasn’t been laying off people as abundantly as other towns in Snohomish County.

Technology teacher Craig Devine said, “I was encouraged because Mountlake Terrace as a city seems to be well, despite the difficult economy, and is not struggling financially.”

For the 2011 year, $18 million were for operation expenditures on public safety, street maintenance, recreation and parks, and debt services. It was also for community outreach and information, development services, land uses and zoning, finance, technology information and human resources.

Half of the $18 million goes to the public safety department of the city, such as police, fire, and court. About 26 percent of the money goes to park and recreation. Development services, land uses and zoning receive 8 percent of the money, while finance, information technology and human resources receive 6 percent.

There will always be challenges that the city has to deal with. So it is always a good idea to stay connected to the community.