City of Brier Budget FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Brier's primary source of tax revenue comes from property taxes. Brier's taxes make up about 13.6% of your total tax bill. Of that 13.6% amount, about 27.8% is voter-approved for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The remaining 72.2% goes to the city's General Fund. However, 5% of this property tax is transferred to our Streets Fund since that fund no longer supports itself due to voter-approved State tax reductions that had previously provided funding for streets.
At the beginning of 2021, the Brier had about a $9.5M balance. Of that amount, about $2.7M was in the General Fund which is used to run city operations such as staff salaries, legal expenses, facilities, public safety and similar expenses. The remaining ~$7M is in funds that are restricted for particular use. For example, money cannot be taken out of the Capital Facilities fund or the Parks Mitigation fund to pay for police services.
Brier's budget is based on City-levied taxes (those that are not voter-approved). Per state law, the budget increase for each year is limited to 1% per year. This is true even if property values increase by more than 1%. In other words, if your property assessment increases by 10%, this does not mean that your Brier taxes will increase by that same amount. The 1% cap still holds. Because of this 1% cap, our budget increase from 2020 to 2021 was only about $12,000.
To see the effect of the 1% cap on Brier's budget, it is useful to consider how our budget grows with respect to inflation. The average yearly rate of inflation from 1990-2019 has been 2.46%. Since Brier can only increase it's budget by 1%, this means Brier's purchasing power is being eroded over time. As a simplistic example, pretend this 1% cap had been enacted in 1990. If Brier's budget in 1990 was $1000, by 2019 the 1% restricted budget would be no more than $1334.50. However, the inflation-adjusted cost of goods and services for the City would have increased to $2023.37. The City's shortfall would be $688.87. Brier's options would be to reduce services, ask voters to approve a levy for additional taxes, or a combination of these.
It is worth noting that Brier has one of the lowest levy rates in Snohomish County. The table below shows how Brier compares with other city in the County. For additional information, see, 2021-Annual-Report (snohomishcountywa.gov).
For information about how property taxes are determined, this helpful guide on the Snohomish County website provides a good explanation (beginning on page 13).
For information on how the 1% property tax levy limit works, click here.
Also See - Our General FAQ Page