Home USA News Tacoma Council passes budget, funds fire department, police, homeless

Tacoma Council passes budget, funds fire department, police, homeless

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On Nov. 22, the Tacoma City Council passed a $4.3 billion budget.

On Nov. 22, the Tacoma City Council passed a $4.3 billion budget.

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The Tacoma City Council passed a two-year, $4.3 billion budget on Nov. 22, plugging a nearly $24 million deficit.

To address the shortfall, council members approved an increase in business license fees and a junk bill tax. The city will also delay maintenance and delay filling vacant positions.

The council adopted the budget unanimously.

“Council is united in its support of this budget and is committed to responding to our community’s challenges fairly and compassionately and to show our residents that a vibrant and livable Tacoma is not an afterthought, but an asset to us.” The mayor of the city, Victoria Woodards, announced this in a press release.

The largest recipient from the city’s general fund is public safety, with $215.5 million for the Tacoma Police Department and $245.12 million for the Tacoma Fire Department. They make up about 60% of the total fund of the city.

For Budget of the Police Department, $147 million is for personnel, up from $124 million in the current biennium. Five new positions are foreseen in the budget for 2023-2024. It also includes $1.1 million to increase the number of medical examiners to provide 24-hour coverage of crime scene services, $75,000 for employee wellness to increase an existing contract with a psychologist, $600,000 to replace aging unmarked vehicles, $365,000 to increase the budget for equipment and training and $494,000 in recruitment costs for the academy and in new equipment and uniforms.

For Budget of the fire department, $186.6 million is for personnel, up from $165 million in the 2021-2022 biennium. Four positions will be added in 2023-2024. TFD’s $5.9 million budget is for replacing the fire fleet with three fire engines, nine transport units, a mobile air unit and eight secondary responses. His budget also includes $842,000 for an alternative response team, $550,000 to adjust emergency medical personnel, $170,000 to expand mental health services and $180,000 for on-site renewable diesel.

The people of Tacoma called out $2 million for the Alternative Mental Health Response Teambut the board said it would consider providing additional funding in the spring from the Save the America Act money.

At the Nov. 15 council meeting, several residents said the city needs safer public transportation and better infrastructure to get around Tacoma without a car. Councilwoman Christina Walker proposed an initiative that was approved by the council to save up to $500,000 under the USA Savings Plans Act for additional non-motorized bicycle and/or pedestrian projects.

The budget included $4.5 million in pedestrian improvements and Vision Zero, a commitment to end road traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2035and $3.6 million for maintenance projects such as funding for unserviceable and unsafe sidewalks, increased funding for pedestrian beacon maintenance and funding for road maintenance.

In homeless services, the budget is $34 million to add two staff members to the Homeless Outreach and Alternatives Team, maintain and expand emergency and temporary shelter capacity, and expand the Tacoma Rescue Mission Men’s Shelter Project and project operating costs TRM shelter. The it is planned to create 150 beds in the city and add 120 units of affordable housing in the next two years.

Solving the city budget deficit

Council approved the business license fee increases which will take effect on January 1, which are

  • $25 will remain for businesses with less than $12,000 in gross annual revenue.

  • $130 for businesses with gross profits between $12,000 and $250,000.

  • $300 for businesses with gross profits between $250,000 and $1 million.

  • $1,000 for companies with $1 million to $5 million in gross revenue.

  • $1,500 for businesses with more than $5 million in gross revenue.

The council also voted to increase business license fees again in 2024 and use this additional funding to provide resources to the business community, which will be decided at a later date.

The council also adopted a 6 percent excise tax on customers’ solid waste bills. Customers will see a $3 per month tax charge per 60-gallon container on their bills. The tax revenue will be used to clean up the removed camps and remove trash and debris from the existing camps and establish a dedicated litter team.

Liz Mummy covers the city of Tacoma for The News Tribune. She previously was a member of the Report For America corps, covering Eastern Kentucky for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

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