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2019 Budget Suggestions is Here – 75th Anniversary Edition!

July 25, 2018 by Toni Nelson
Category: Budgets and Budgeting

2019 Budget Suggestions is Here – 75th Anniversary Edition!

By Toni Nelson and Steve Hawley

It’s late July, which means the weather is heating up, cherry season is in full swing, the Mariners are in the hunt for the postseason (wait, what?), and the local budgeting season is about to begin – so it’s time for MRSC’s annual Budget Suggestions publication!

Today, we are proud to announce the release of 2019 Budget Suggestions. This year is special – not only is it a biennial budget year so all cities and counties are preparing budgets, but it’s also the 75th anniversary of the original 1944 Budget Suggestions publication. (And MRSC has been serving local governments even longer than that!)

Highlights This Year Include:

Analysis of new legislation. We’ve included information about a few bills from this legislative session that might impact future budgets, including an optional levy lid lift exemption for senior citizens and people with disabilities and a one-time PERS 1 COLA of 1.5%. In addition, we’re including several bills from previous sessions that will have a fiscal impact beginning in 2019, such as the Marketplace Fairness Act and elimination of SST mitigation payments, the model business license requirements, paid family and medical leave, and sick leave and minimum wage increases.

Detailed discussion of proposed initiatives. There are three proposed initiatives this year that appear likely to make the ballot and may have impacts on local government budgets. (Hint: “affordable groceries” means “no more local government soda taxes.”) The signatures haven’t been officially certified yet and there may still be some legal challenges. I-940 may also appear on the ballot regarding law enforcement de-escalation and deadly force, depending on the results of a court challenge.

New section on budget hearings. We’ve added a new section this year addressing that perennial question, “How many budget hearings do we need to hold?”

Expanded emphasis on “core revenues.” We’ve expanded our look at core revenues and especially sales taxes, including the Marketplace Fairness Act and the coming elimination of streamlined sales tax (SST) mitigation payments by October 1, 2019.

Key dates for voted revenues. If you’re considering a voted revenue increase, we’ve added a new calendar showing key dates for voted revenue measures in 2018-2019 so you can work backwards from your desired implementation date. For instance, if you want a sales tax to take effect at any point during 2019, it must appear before voters no later than the February 2019 special election, which means you must file the resolution no later than December 14, 2018!

More discussion of the state and national economies. The national economy is very strong right now, and unemployment is very low in much of Washington (although local context matters a lot). But there are major questions looming on the horizon.

Improved narratives and more graphics. We’ve clarified a few sections, such as eligibility and requirements for criminal justice and marijuana excise tax funds, and we’ve added more graphics to help explain key information, including a new shared revenue distribution calendar showing when the various revenues are distributed throughout the year.

A preview of the implicit price deflator. The IPD will not be officially calculated until September 25, but it appears to be safely above 1% for 2018, which means that local governments with a population of 10,000 or more should not need a resolution of substantial need this year. (But we’ll let you know once the official number is set.)

And much more!

Plus, Look Back in Time to 1943/1944!

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of this publication, we’ve also written a chapter taking a look back in time at the original 1944 Budget Suggestions, including some excerpts! Learn how World War II was impacting Washington’s local governments, how state shared revenues were calculated back then, and how a new shared revenue appropriation that AWC had lobbied for was about to change all of that and usher in our modern system of population estimates.

And in 1943, the Revised Code of Washington hadn’t been adopted yet – so how many official legal codes did the State of Washington have at the time?

A lot has changed in the last 75 years, but as always MRSC is here to help local governments out. We look forward to serving you and helping local governments develop their budgets for many more years to come!

Don’t Forget About MRSC’s Other Budgeting Resources

As a reminder, we have lots of other information related to every aspect of budgeting on our website, including city and county budget procedures, key questions to consider for updating your financial policies, tax and population data, communicating your budget to the public, and more.

You can view all of our budget-related materials at

Questions or Comments?

If you have any feedback on Budget Suggestions – such as ways we can improve it, or whether you found the new information useful – let us know! You can contact Toni Nelson at

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Toni Nelson

Toni Nelson joined MRSC in 2014 as the finance consultant. She has worked in local government finance since 1990 and was previously the “Small Cities Specialist” with the State Auditor’s Office (SAO), Clerk Treasurer for the Town of Twisp, as well as an independent financial consultant working with small local government across the state. Toni's area of expertise is "Cash Basis" accounting and reporting, budgeting, and the financial responsibilities and challenges of smaller local government.

Toni is a board member of the Washington Finance Officers Association (WFOA) and longtime member of the WFOA Education committee. While with SAO, Toni wrote the Small Cities handbook and she annually prepares the MRSC - Budget Suggestions publication. Most recently Toni co-authored the comprehensive update of the Revenue Guides for WA Cities, Towns and Counties, in 2019.

Toni conducts workshops on local government financial reporting, budgeting, and the essential duties of finance staff in smaller jurisdictions, with an emphasis on cash basis accounting and the challenges of small local government.



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