At first glance, the city of Longview’s proposed budget for the next two years reveals that the city intends to spend a greater amount of money from its general fund, which is the fund that pays for the majority of city services.
During their meeting on Thursday, the members of the Longview City Council conducted the first public hearings for the upcoming 2023–2024 budget as well as the tax revenue for the general fund.
What is the anticipated additional revenue from the general fund?
It is anticipated that annual contributions to the city’s general fund will increase to approximately $45 million, while expenditures will increase to $46.3 million in the coming year and $48 million in 2024. The shortfalls would be made up for with the money that was cut from the original budget.
The Longview Police Department continues to receive the largest allocation of money from the general fund of the city. The budgeted amount for the department to receive this year is 13.7 million dollars; however, it is expected to receive over $15 million in each of the next two years, which is an increase from this year’s budgeted amount.
The Longview Fire Department is expected to receive slightly more than $11 million on an annual basis.
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According to Assistant City Manager Kris Swanson, one of the primary reasons why spending was going to increase more than planned was because of inflation. This year, the increase in gas prices alone caused the city to incur costs that were $500,000 higher than they had originally planned.
The budget would increase by approximately $750,000 per year if budget enhancements, also known as new things added to the city’s budget in the future, were implemented.
The majority of these additions were the result of new hires, including a systems analyst, a community outreach coordinator, a parks maintenance supervisor, two maintenance technicians, and a maintenance technician.
When discussing general revenue on Thursday, the majority of the conversation focused on how home prices and property taxes continue to rise. The assessed value of a home in Longview experienced a 14.6% increase between the years of 2019 and 2023.
The city of Longview’s levy rate per $1,000 of assessed value will decrease as a result of the growth, but the total amount that homeowners will owe in taxes may not change by very much. During the presentation that took place on Thursday evening, it was demonstrated that the “typical” single-story home in Longview that was modeled by the Cowlitz County Assessor’s Office will pay an additional $1.82 in property taxes to the city.
The few people who spoke up during the meeting, the majority of whom were concerned about the effects a recession would have on the city’s revenue, expressed their concerns.
If the city had to make cuts to its budget for the next year, a number of residents asked the city to find the places where savings could be made with the least amount of work.