Yakima's five-year financial forecast reveals big deficits - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima's five-year financial forecast reveals big deficits

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YAKIMA, Wash.-- Yakima City Council members got a look at a five-year financial forecast Tuesday. 

Inside it breaks down the city's revenue streams, as well as where they're spending most of the money.

Unfortunately, if things continue to go the way they have been the city is looking at some significant deficits.

An estimated $4 million in the red. That's the reality of Yakima's financial situation by 2016.

"The forecast is kind of the first step to see where are we at and where are we going if we do nothing," said Cindy Epperson, director of finance and budget.

But with this new financial forecast, City Manager, Tony O'Rourke hopes changes will be made now, to protect the city's future.

"Now is the time by forecasting out, in this case four years ahead, what we're looking at so we can take steps today to eliminate those problems in the future," said O'Rourke.

The 12 page report outlines where the city is spending most of its money, compared to where they're bringing it in.

And the biggest offenders, in terms of spending, is salaries and wages and personnel benefits. Those two portions account for about 72% of city spending, and O'Rourke says that's about 7% more than most cities. 

"Regardless of how we got there, we have to address it, and clearly business as usual will not align with fiscal sustainability," said O'Rourke.

And the city council sees the problem too. Mayor Micah Cawley says it's something they've been putting band-aids over as of late, but he realizes some tough decisions will have to be made. 

"We have to balance our budget but what it means to sustain it is to set up the new reality for the City of Yakima and what services should we be doing, what shouldn't we be doing, and what can we afford to do," said Mayor Cawley.

The next step is a city council meeting on August 21st, when the city manager and his staff will present some potential ideas for solving these problems.

At that point, it's up to the city council to vote to make any changes.

Of course we will keep you updated as the story unfolds.

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