Mayor's Corner


OCTOBER 3, 2022

The purpose of this statement is to advise everyone connected with the budget process of the plan for this community and of the priorities we have set to achieve our common goals.

Zillah continues to be a community where people want to live and raise their families.  We know that Zillah has tremendous potential and that growth will continue to increase in the coming years.  Our schools are of the highest caliber, and our fire and police departments continue to keep the community safe and well cared for.  We’ve worked hard to enforce solid building and land use codes which have kept Zillah an outstanding community within the Yakima Valley.  Our administrative staff is proactive and has implemented software for electronic payments and online purchases.  We have nice parks, a cemetery, and roadways that are continually being improved.  The city has a court system which the patrons of Zillah appreciate.  City Council has been proactive and wise in approving policies and laws for the city that build Zillah strong.  I believe our administrative staff have dealt wisely in running their departments and have kept a watchful eye on their budgets.  I want to see this continue.   

The effects of COVID have reached the city in some unexpected ways.  Finding vehicles for our fleet has been challenging, as the manufacturing of the electronic chips shut down at one point, and they are now trying to catch up.  On a labor level, it has also been challenging to get people to apply for open positions.  There are many job openings in our region right now, that good and experienced employees are going to larger entities and organizations that pay more.  Some of our smaller businesses continue to struggle, most recently with some product shortages again.  We continue to deal with unfunded mandates and regulatory requirements that affect many areas the city has jurisdiction over.  Some of those requirements include additional reporting to the various state and federal agencies with mandatory compliance elements as well as increased licensing requirements.  There are also tracking and recording requirements tied to potential liability issues.  Those requirements affect the city at a staff (labor) level, as well as monetarily, due to new or increased fees. 

The city has experienced some staff changes in the past few years.  As the current staff resigns and moves on, or as they reach retirement age, new hires will need to be capable of meeting the departmental demands and to be a good fit for the city.  We will continue to seek and hire new staff who are proactive and sensitive to the needs of the public.  They need to work well with a team and be confident as an individual.  Training is essential for current and new employees.  There are many free and low-cost training opportunities available.  Department Heads should be diligent in educating themselves and their employees in ways that will enhance their ability to perform the job.  

We realize our best strategy during 2023 is to continue our efforts to maintain quality city services and to conserve where we can.  We continue to button down the hatches on our spending where possible.  If we carry out a conservative spending plan, we believe we will continue to weather the storm and will get through this unique time in history, successfully.

BUDGET.  In building your 2023 budget, I am directing staff to monitor spending closely within the framework of the current budget.  If the City continues to “stay the course” in keeping a watchful eye on spending, the City may have resources available to fund what is needed in the future.   Zillah has adopted financial policies which designate contingency reserve fund balances in the event of unforeseen circumstances.  Those balances are monitored and adjusted annually.  When possible, we also plan to reserve funding for long-range capital needs.

Salaries and benefits through 2023 were negotiated in 2021.  Department heads need to continue to carefully monitor their departmental programs within their budget. 

Considering these objectives and constraints, I am requesting departments to submit their 2023 budgets.  Revenues will continue to be projected conservatively.  Expenditures need to be based on current staffing levels and current levels of other budget items.  2023 budget requests should only be increased over the 2022 budgets to consider anticipated inflationary increases keeping in mind that if budget line items can be decreased, please do so.  If you feel strongly that adjustments to your current budget allocations should be made for 2023, a separate sheet, “Request for Program Enhancements” may be submitted. I caution you to submit these requests only for items that you feel are necessary for the effectiveness of your operation, and which can be cost-benefit justified where feasible.