On Your Mark, Get Set: Download 2024 Budget Suggestions!
This year marks the 80th year of our annual publication, Budget Suggestions, which provides the latest information about things that might impact your city, town, or county budget. The first edition was published August 3, 1943. You can now find the 2024 edition available for free on our website.
This year we have reorganized some of the information. Instead of discussing budget processes and shared revenues for cities and counties together, we now have separate discussions for cities/towns and for counties. Here are some highlights.
Legislation That May Affect Your Budget
There is not much to report on changes to city, town, and county taxes.
HB 1575 gives counties the ability to impose the 0.1% cultural access program sales tax instead restricting it to a vote of the people. If a county has not imposed the tax by December 31, 2024, cities and towns within the county can then impose the vote councilmanically as well.
SHB 1267 extends the expiration date of rural counties public facilities sales tax (aka the .09 sales tax) to December 31, 2054. Previously the tax expired after a maximum of 25 years.
We are also reminding local governments that many of the temporary “fiscal flexibility” expanded uses of tax revenues (including REET, criminal justice sales and use taxes, and criminal justice state shared revenue distributions) lapse December 31, 2023.
State Shared Revenue Estimates
Cities, towns, and counties receive various state shared revenue distributions. Some of these revenues are shared based on a strictly per capita (population) basis while others are shared using different formulas or factors. MRSC takes revenue forecasts from various state agencies and provides revenue projections for:
- liquor revenues,
- motor vehicle fuel taxes,
- cannabis distributions,
- city-county assistance,
- fire insurance premium taxes, and
- criminal justice appropriations.
New this year, we have provided tables for each shared revenue program showing the total distribution for last year (2022 actual), revised estimates for the current budget year (2023), projections for the next two budget years (2024 and 2025), and the percent change year-over-year.
For revenues based solely on population, MRSC also takes the Washington Office of Financial Management’s population estimates and provides per capita estimates. Multiply these numbers by your jurisdiction’s population (unincorporated population for counties) to estimate how much your jurisdiction can expect to receive.
As just one example, below is a table showing projected liquor excise tax distributions to cities and towns.
We hope that by providing this information, it will be easier for you to develop and adjust your own budget projections.
Implicit Price Deflator
Taxing districts with a population of 10,000 or more may increase their regular property tax levy amount by 1%, or the percentage increase of the Implicit Price Deflator (IPD), whichever is less. If the IPD percentage increase is less than 1%, then taxing districts are restricted to the IPD percentage unless they pass an ordinance or resolution of substantial need. The official IPD figure will not be calculated by the Washington State Department of Revenue until September 25, when we will publish it to our Implicit Price Deflator webpage and our Weekly Insights e-newsletter. But we already have a good idea of what that number will be — so if you want a sneak peak, download Budget Suggestions!
Population, Property Tax, and Sales Tax Distributions
As a reminder, MRSC has tracked Population, Property Tax, and Sales Tax Distribution Data for the last 10 years for all cities, towns, and counties in the state. Our spreadsheet contains population figures, assessed value, regular (general fund) levy rate and levy amount, and “regular” and “optional” sales tax revenues (not including restricted sales taxes). Many local governments have found these figures helpful when doing trend analysis and forecasting their revenues.
Other Budget Resources
You can find all of MRSC’s budget resources on our Budgeting in Washington State webpage. From checklists and calendars to sample budgets and budget ordinances, there are so many helpful items, especially for those new to municipal finance in Washington. Our finance team will also be growing — just in time for budget season — with the addition of a new staff member specializing in small local governments. Stay tuned for an announcement in upcoming weeks!
In the meantime, if you have any budgeting questions, as always, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.