EVERETT, Wash. — The City of Everett is facing an $18 million deficit heading into 2021 and more big cuts could be made to some of the city’s most beloved services.
“We were facing a $15 million deficit, because of the impacts of COVID, and our businesses being closed, it is up to about $18 million,” said Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin in an online Q & A session.
In May, the city indefinitely shut down the Carl Gipson Senior Center, Forest Park Swim Center, city-sponsored events like the Fourth of July, and laid off employees in an effort to help with COVID-19 budget issues.
Those services are the ones at risk of permanent closure, as well as others.
They’re even looking into a regional fire authority.
But there could be a saving grace for some of these programs, and it comes in the form of partnerships with non-profits, public and private organizations.
“We’re seeking public and private partnerships to help look at opportunities where we could find a great partner to work with us, to provide some of these programs that we’re having a harder and harder time affording,” Franklin said.
While some services are at risk, others could be growing.
As cities like Seattle cut police budgets, that is not the case in Everett.
The city wants to hire more officers.
“Right now, we’re understaffed, we’re really not operating at best practices for the health and safety and well-being of our community,” said Franklin.
Instead of cutting vacant positions in the police department, the city is moving forward in filling them.
There is even a discussion of adding to the police budget to expand the pilot program for body cameras.
“We are incorporating body cameras into the budget as we’re planning ahead, and hope to be able to expand it. But it is a significant expense, so I’ll be working through that with city council,” she explained.
The budget is still in the planning phase, but Franklin hopes they can save some of the programs that help make the City of Everett what it is.
“We have to figure out how we’re going to continue to provide the core services to our residents to the best of our ability with the limited resources we have,” she said.