Everett Mayor: Difficult decisions ahead to fill $18 million budget shortfall

The economic woes for the North Sound’s largest city are getting even worse.

The city of Everett already laid off staff and shuttered public programs to manage budget shortfalls for this year, but Mayor Cassie Franklin said more difficult decisions will be required for 2021’s budget blamed on the shutdown and dwindling tax revenues.

Boeing, the region’s largest employer, laid-off workers and other businesses are also facing struggles during the economic downturn.

At Judy Matheson’s gift store in Everett, staff have been taking pandemic safety protocols seriously. Matheson says business has been tight but nearly 3 decades of dedication to customer services is paying dividends by loyal customers. 

“If it weren’t for my great customers I wouldn’t be here,” she said.

But Matheson’s story may be an exception as other businesses haven’t been as lucky. The downturn is having an impact on the city’s bottom line.

Mayor Franklin says not only did tax revenues take a hit, a cap that limits what can be levied is also a challenge as a structural deficit is hard even in a roaring economy.

“I think it’s important that we look at the way we offer these services and see if there is something we could do,” she said.

“We are just riding that line,” said bartender Tasha Riedman who works at The Independent Beer Bar in downtown Everett.

Thanks to a city program that allows businesses to expand capacity by converting street parking into dining space, it could bring in more customers that will keep Tasha pouring.

“It makes me really thankful that I have a job,” said Riedman.

Matheson says she received a PPE loan but was denied grants from the city. And while the last time Boeing laid-off workers the impact to her gift shop was not dramatic. But as long as a virus impacts the economy, what happens at Boeing impacts many other businesses.

State law requires the city of Everett to operate with a balanced budget. The city council will hear public comment and public input for cuts to the 2021 budget at their next meeting next Wednesday.