Balancing a City Budget - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Balancing a City Budget

KENNEWICK, Wash. - Figuring out how much it costs to run a city can be a daunting task. City staff members have a lot to consider to balance the budget.

Kennewick City Staff presented the 2007 - 2008 budget to city council Tuesday night. The city must account for millions of dollars and a myriad of services. As Richland and Pasco will tell you, it's much more difficult than balancing your checkbook.

Every two years the City of Kennewick hashes out how much it costs to run the city. This budget's bare operating costs equal $79 million, and that's up 5% from the 2005-2006 budget.

One objective is to maintain quality service without making citizens pay out the nose.

In Pasco, city staff said that's the main concern.

"How do we continue to improve different services from year to year without undertaking, without increasing significant financial obligations like through additional taxes?", said Gary Crutchfield, Pasco City Manager.    

Pasco's tried to keep taxes to a minimum for 2007, the budget sees only a 4% increase.

In Richland, they also see a 4% jump. City staffers said the budget is always something that needs tweaking.

"If we did nothing in terms of reducing or expanding the budget, if you will, our cost would go up approximately $1.4 million," said Ron D. Musson, City of Richland Administrative Services Director.   

But for Kennewick, staff said their biggest challenge is helping citizens understand how far their dollar is going.

"The environment now is value. I've never has anyone say I'm not willing to pay my taxes. I've heard many times, I wonder what my taxes really buy me," said Bob Hammond, Kennewick City Manager.