Community Update from Kenmore Mayor and City Manager

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Photo courtesy City of Kenmore

Kenmore Community, 

We are proud of our community continuing to stand strong together as we are experiencing the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We are deeply concerned for those who have been suffering and have lost loved ones. 

It is vital that we continue to be on our guard and do our part to help slow the spread of the virus and keep it from resurging. 

Your health and safety are our top priorities as we navigate through this crisis.

We are also very concerned about the pandemic’s effect on the economy. We know that many Kenmore residents, business owners, and employees are also going through great stress and anxiety as their businesses and places of employment are shuttered. As a city organization, we are moving forward and focusing on ways to support our community as we face these challenging times together.

City Goals and Priorities

The City of Kenmore has shifted its priority and focus to responding to the pandemic, and have developed the following thematic goal:

Lead and support employees and the community through the social, mental, health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

We are working towards this goal with the following objectives:
  • Help slow the spread of the virus in our community
  • Maintain essential city services
  • Keep city employees safe
  • Communicate like crazy
  • Respond to budget impacts
  • Look after each other
  • Develop a recovery plan

Budget Impacts and the Financial Forecast

We have been keeping a close eye on the city’s revenues as well as regional and national economic indicators. We are currently projecting a decline in operating revenue in the General Fund and Street Fund of 11.5% to 13% in 2020. This decline amounts to a $1.7 million to $1.9 million loss in revenue out of $14.9 million in budgeted revenues for 2020. It is a difficult task to make up for a loss in revenue of this magnitude in the remaining eight months of the budget year; however, we are moving forward with a two-phased approach:
  1. Cut discretionary expenditures (contracts, supplies, equipment, travel, etc.) down to essential services and preserve essential city services (public safety, maintaining basic transportation and city building infrastructure, etc.).
  2. Reassess our budget situation after we have two or three more months of revenue data and economic indicators; then respond accordingly.

We have combed through and scrutinized the budget reports and have already cut approximately $1.024 million in discretionary expenditures for the remainder of 2020. Many of these cuts are unprecedented and far from easy to make, and these discretionary expenditure reductions down to essential services will result in noticeable service level reductions.

Thankfully, the City has relatively healthy cash reserves and a rainy day fund. While the reductions in the discretionary expenditures get us more than halfway toward the 2020 projected deficit, we may need to access our reserves for the difference.

Summer Event Cancellations

One example of a difficult discretionary spending reduction was the decision to cancel most special events for the remainder of the year. While 4th of July Fireworks, Movies @ the Square, the Holiday Tree Lighting, and most summer concerts are canceled, we are holding out a ray of hope that we will be allowed and able to have two concerts in the second half August at Saint Edward State Park. 

We know these events provide meaningful community connections and are beloved traditions. Staff are already being creative in finding ways to host virtual events that still bring us “together” at little or no cost to the city. Stay tuned for these updates.

Other Reductions
  • Street banners on SR 522 and in our downtown will be discontinued for the remainder of the year. 
  • Responsibility for landscape maintenance on several arterial roads will be transferred back to the adjoining property owners, as this property owner responsibility is already required in the City’s code, and property owners on collector roads and residential streets already comply with this requirement.
  • The City’s Kenmore Business Incubator will be discontinued by the end of this year, and are working to transition this program to a solid and qualified operator so that services can continue. Other economic development services will also be reduced. 

We have also cut the budget in other areas, including training, supplies, and equipment, as well as a hiring freeze (we currently have one vacant position that we are not filling at this time).

Work Continues

Despite these developments, Kenmore city employees continue to serve our public by keeping essential city operations running during the stay at home order. Park and road capital project design and development, surface water facility inspections, park safety and road safety maintenance, responses to public records requests, policing, permitting, building inspections, and much more continue today.

Work on essential public infrastructure, such as the West Sammamish River bridge replacement project, is moving forward with safety measures in place. This week, we opened bids on one of the Walkways and Waterways Bond Measure projects: Juanita Drive sidewalks and bike lanes project. These capital projects are funded separately by grants, bonds, and other revenues that can only be spent on capital projects (not on city operations).

City parks remain open, although park amenities, including play structures, sport courts, and restrooms are closed. City Hall remains closed for the time being, although the public can still contact us and request city services through the City’s website.

We are also continuing to keep a watchful eye on potential grants and other funding sources that may be coming to cities like Kenmore through federal and state channels.

Silver Linings

On a positive note, we are inspired by what we affectionally call “love notes” throughout Kenmore—many wonderful people have been stepping up to help neighbors and those who are less fortunate. For example, many of you have made masks from your home and have donated them to human services agencies and the city. Thank you! We will be calling on you for more assistance like this.

Looking Ahead

With anticipation, we await the Governor’s direction on what will begin to reopen and what will remain closed after May 4th. As a partnering member of the Northshore Emergency Management Coalition, we will consult with our neighboring agencies, including King County Public Health and King County Department of Emergency Management to respond as conditions change. We will have you, our Kenmore residents, at top of mind when we do so.

These are undoubtedly very difficult and heart-breaking times. It’s a sad day when we make the decision to cancel many of our city events for the year or discontinue street banners on our main thoroughfare. Nevertheless, I have been more encouraged than ever by the acts of dedication and kindness that I have observed from City staff and the community. I know that our organization and our city will be better and stronger on the other side of this pandemic. With such an amazing community, I know we’ve got this.


David Baker, Mayor
Rob Karlinsey, City Manager


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