Changes in Olympia would impact city budget

Apr 07, 2017

Members of the Mill Creek City Council voted unanimously to encourage citizens to speak out against the state transferring its pension obligations to cities.

The Senate’s budget, SB 5048, as passed on March 23, would eliminate the state contribution rate to the pension plan for all full-time commissioned law enforcement officers and fire fighters. Since the pension plan’s inception in 1977, contributions have been split three ways: the employee covers 50 percent; the employer covers 30 percent; and the state covers 20 percent.

The senate’s version of the budget moves the state’s responsibility to the cities, which would now be responsible to cover 50 percent of the pension contributions. If approved by both legislative chambers, this new allocation would take effect this summer.

The council made its plea to residents at the March 27 meeting.

“We continue to carry more of the state’s financial burden as they eliminate funding and reduce revenues that historically have gone to cities. Fiscal responsibility doesn’t mean transferring financial obligations to others,” said City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto. “So we are asking the community to share their concerns with legislators now and require the state to honor its obligations.”

For just the second half of this year, such an adjustment would increase the City of Mill Creek’s cost from $55,793 to $93,344. For the 2017-2018 biennium, the increased cost for the City to cover just full-time commissioned police officers is $116,019.

“To put this in perspective, this biennium increase averages out to about $5,273 per employee,” Polizzotto told the council. “It’s already a struggle to cover cost of living increases, but this is significantly more.”

Legislators for the 44th Legislative District can be contacted at:

  • Sen. Steve Hobbs, steve.hobbs@leg.wa.gov, (360) 786-7686
  • Rep. Mark Harmsworth, mark.harmsworth@leg.wa.gov, (360) 786-7892
  • Rep. John Lovick, johnlovick@frontier.com, (360) 786-7804
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