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The Burien City Council adopted the 2023-2024 budget in December 2022. This budget strives to reflect priorities set by the City’s new Strategic Plan and City’s current financial resources as well as the plan to invest federal pandemic recovery funding. The City Council is continuing discussion of the long-range financial plan, with a focus on addressing a projected budget gap in a few years. They adopted a mid-biennial update on December 4, 2023.

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Background Information

2023-2024 Budget
Glossary of Terms

Accounting System. The methods and records established to identify, assemble, analyze, classify, record and report a government’s transactions and to maintain accountability for the related assets and liabilities.

Accrual Basis. The recording of the financial effects on a government of transactions and other events and circumstances that have cash consequences for the government in the periods in which those transactions, events, and circumstances occur, rather than only in the periods in which cash is received or paid by the government.

Ad Valorem Tax. A tax based on value (e.g., a property tax).

Annual Budget. A budget applicable to a single fiscal year.

Appropriated Budget. The expenditure authority created by the appropriation bills or ordinances, which are signed into law, and the related estimated revenues. The appropriated budget would include all reserves, transfers, allocations, supplemental appropriations and other legally authorized legislative and executive changes.

Appropriation. A legal authorization granted by a legislative body to make expenditures and to incur obligations for specific purposes. An appropriation usually is limited in amount and time it may be expended.

Assessed Valuation. A valuation set upon real estate or other property by a government as a basis for levying taxes.

BARS. Budgeting, Accounting & Reporting System. Refers to the accounting rules established by the Washington State Auditor’s Office, including a prescribed chart of accounts.

Basis of Accounting. A term used in reference to when revenues, expenditures, expenses and transfers-and the related assets and liabilities-are recognized in the accounts and reported in the financial statements. Specifically, it relates to the timing of the measurements made, regardless of the nature of the measurement, on either the cash or the accrual method.

Benefits. Costs paid by the City on behalf of its employees. Examples include: medical and dental insurance, retirement, deferred compensation, life insurance and worker’s compensation.

Budget. A plan of financial operation embodying an estimate of proposed expenditures for a given period and the proposed means of financing them. Used without any modifier, the term usually indicates a financial plan for a single fiscal year.

Budget Document. The instrument used to present a comprehensive financial program to the appropriating governing body. The budget document usually consists of three parts. The first part contains a message from the budget-making authority, together with a summary of the proposed expenditures and the means of financing them. The second consists of schedules supporting the summary. These schedules show in detail the past years’ actual revenues, expenditures and other data used in making the estimates. The third part is composed of drafts of the appropriation, revenue and borrowing measures necessary to put the budget into effect.

Budget Message. A general discussion of the proposed budget as presented in writing by the budget-making authority to the legislative body. The budget message should contain an explanation of the principal budget items, an outline of the government’s actual financial experience during the past period and its financial status at the time of the message, and recommendations regarding the financial policy for the coming period.

Budgetary Control. The control or management of a government or enterprise in accordance with an approved budget to keep expenditures within the limitations of available appropriations and available revenues.

Capital Assets. Long-term assets, normally exceeding $1,000 in value and having a useful life of more than one or two years, such as major computer equipment, buildings, and land.

Capital Expenditures. Expenditures of current financial resources for constructing or purchasing capital assets. Under the modified accrual basis of accounting, these acquired assets appear as expenditures in the fund statements, however, under the current reporting model these acquired assets are recognized as assets in the basic financial statements

Capital Improvement Plan. A plan for capital expenditures to be incurred each year over a fixed period of years to meet capital needs arising from the long-term work program or other capital needs. It sets forth each project or other contemplated expenditure in which the government is to have a part and specifies the resources estimated to be available to finance the projected expenditures.

Capital Project Fund. A fund created to account for financial resources to be used for the acquisition or construction of major capital facilities.

Debt. An obligation resulting from the borrowing of money or from the purchase of goods and services. Debts of governments include bonds, time warrants, and notes.

Debt Service Fund. A fund established to account for the accumulation of resources for, and the payment of, general long-term debt principal and interest.

Delinquent Taxes. Taxes remaining unpaid on and after the date to which a penalty for nonpayment is attached. Even though the penalty may be subsequently waived and a portion of the taxes may be abated or canceled, the unpaid balances continue to be delinquent taxes until abated, canceled, paid, or converted into tax liens.

Encumbrance. Commitments for unperformed contracts for goods or services.

Expenditures. Decreases in net financial resources. Expenditures include current operating expenses requiring the present or future use of net current assets, debt service, and capital outlays, and intergovernmental grants, entitlement, and shared revenues.

Fiscal Year. A 12 -month period to which the annual operating budget applies and at the end of which a government determines its financial position and the results of its operations.

Fixed Assets. Long-lived tangible assets obtained or controlled as a result of past transactions, events, or circumstances. Fixed assets include buildings, equipment, and improvements other than buildings and land.

Fund. A fiscal and accounting entity with a self-balancing set of accounts in which cash and other financial resources, and related liabilities and residual equities, or balances, and changes therein, are recorded and segregated to carry on specific activities or attain certain objectives in accordance with special regulations, restrictions or limitations.

Fund Balance. The difference between fund assets and fund liabilities of governmental and similar trust funds.

General Fund. The fund used to account for all financial resources, except those required to be accounted for in another fund.

General Long Term Debt. Long-term debt expected to be repaid from governmental funds

General Obligation Bonds. Bonds issued the repayment of which the full faith and credit of the city is pledged.

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Uniform minimum standards and guidelines for financial accounting and reporting. The primary authoritative body on the application of GAAP to state and local governments is the Government Accounting Standards Board.

Governmental Funds. Funds generally used to account for tax-supported activities. There are five different types of governmental funds, of which the city uses four of these. The general fund is the main operating fund of the city. The special revenue funds, are used to account for proceeds from specific sources to be used for legally restricted purposes, but normally not for major capital projects. The debt service fundsare for the accumulation of resources to pay principle and interest on the City’s general long-term debt. The capital project funds are used for the acquisition or construction of major capital facilities.

Legal Level Of Budgetary Control. The level at which spending in excess of budgeted amounts would be a violation of law.

Level Of Budgetary Control. One of the three possible levels of budgetary control and authority to which organizations, programs, activities and functions may be subject. These levels of budgetary control are (a) appropriated budget, (b) legally authorized non-appropriated budget process or (c) non-budgeted financial activities, which are not subject to the appropriated budget and the appropriation process or to any legally authorized non-appropriated budget review and approval process, but still are relevant for sound financial management and oversight.

Levy. (1) (verb) To impose taxes, special assessments or service charges for the support of government activities. (2) (Noun) The total amount of taxes, special assessments or service charges imposed by a government.

Modified Accrual Basis. The basis of accounting associated with the governmental fund-type measurement focus. Under it, revenues and other financial resources are recognized when they become susceptible to accrual that is when they become both “measurable” and “available” to finance expenditures of the current period. Expenditures are recognized when the fund liability is incurred except for inventories of materials and supplies that may be considered expenditures either when purchased or when used. All governmental funds, expendable trust funds and agency funds are accounted for using the modified accrual basis of accounting.

Operating Budget. Plans of current expenditures and the proposed means of financing them. The annual operating budget is the primary means by which most of the financing, acquisition, spending and service delivery activities of a government are controlled. The use of annual operating budgets is usually required by law. Even when not required by law, however, annual operating budgets are essential to sound financial management and should be adopted by every government.

Operating Transfers. All interfund transfers other than residual equity transfers (e.g., legally authorized transfers from a fund receiving revenue to the fund through which the resources are to be expended).

Program Budget. A budget wherein expenditures are based primarily on programs of work and secondarily on character and object class.

Proprietary Fund Types. Sometimes referred to as income determination or commercial-type funds, the classification is used to account for a government’s ongoing organizations and activities that are similar to those often found in the private sector. The GAAP used are generally those applicable to similar businesses in the private sector and the measurement focus is on the determination of net income, financial position, and changes in financial position.

Revenues. (1) Increases in the net current assets of a governmental fund type from other than expenditure refunds and residual equity transfers. Also, general long-term debt proceeds and operating transfers in are classified as “other financing sources” rather than as revenues. (2) Increases in the net total assets of a proprietary fund type from other than expense refunds, capital contributions and residual equity transfers. Also, operating transfers in are classified separately from revenues.

Special Assessments. A compulsory levy made against certain properties to defray all or part of the cost of a specific capital improvement or service deemed to benefit primarily those properties.

Special Revenue Fund. A fund used to account for the proceeds of specific revenue sources (other than expendable trusts or major capital projects) that are legally restricted to expenditure for specified purposes. GAAP only require the use of special revenue funds when legally mandated.

Taxes. Compulsory charges levied by a government to finance services performed for the common benefit. This term does not include specific charges made against particular persons or property for current or permanent benefits, such as special assessments. Neither does the term include charges for services rendered only to those paying such charges (e.g., sewer service charges).

Tax Levy Ordinance. An ordinance through which taxes are levied.

Tax Rate. The amount of tax stated in terms of a unit of the tax base (e.g., specified amount per $1,000 of assessed valuation of taxable property).

Tax Rate Limit. The maximum rate at which a government may levy a tax. The limit may apply to taxes raised for a particular purpose or to taxes imposed for all purposes, and may apply to a single government or to a class of governments operating in a particular area. Overall tax-rate limits usually restrict levies for all purposes and of all governments, state and local, having jurisdiction in a given area.

Project Timeline

July-September 2022

Budget Development

City staff work with with City Manager and Finance Department to develop a proposed budget.

October-November 2022

Council Review and Public Hearings

The City Council reviews proposed budget and holds public hearings.

December 2022

Adopt Budget and Financial Policies

The City Council adopts the final budget ordinance and financial policies. Statutory deadline is December 31, 2022.

October-December 2023

Mid-biennial update

The City Council approves a mid-biennial update to the budget to reflect adjusted revenues and expenditures.

On October 23, 2023, the Burien City Council adopted a five-year strategic plan to help both the City Council and staff identify areas where we need to focus our efforts. The plan will set the tone for budgeting priorities and staff work planning. The strategic planning process was a collaborative effort between the City Council and City of Burien staff. Feedback from community gathered through public workshops and the Community Survey guided the strategic planning process. Progress will be regularly reviewed by the City Council and the City staff and updates will be shared with the community on this dashboard.

Burien’s Focus for the Next Five Years

Through 2028, the City of Burien will prioritize:

  • Achieving Financial Stability
  • Achieving Racial Equity
  • Centering Community Accountability
  • Reshaping Community Through Smart, Mindful Development

We will continue to strive to deliver core services, meet regulatory requirements, and ensure the community’s key infrastructure needs are met. This strategic plan identifies how the Burien City Council and City of Burien staff will advance these shared commitments through 2028. A forecasted revenue gap, however, may affect our ability to meet community needs. This strategic plan identifies how the City of Burien staff will advance these shared commitments through 2028.

Strategic Direction Progress:

GOAL: Define current and future financial outlook and budget needs

Confirm structural deficit and define long-term budget needsComplete
Evaluate and present councilmanic and voter-approved revenue options, including ballot measures, permit fees, utility taxes, solid waste fees, B&O tax, etc.In progress
Work with the community, City Council, and staff to determine service-level cuts that will be required if voter-approved ballot measures failNot started

GOAL: Implement Councilmanic revenue options

Act on revenue optionsIn progress

GOAL: Implement voter-approved revenue options

Develop a ballot measure plan that involves the development of an advisory committee, gathering community feedback on defining services that new revenues would fund, and creating a community education campaignIn progress
Consider creation of a Metropolitan Parks DistrictNot started

Success Metrics for Achieving Financial Stability

Financial consultant has completed financial outlook

Staff and financial consultants have made presentations to the City Council

Councilmanic options and ballot measure implemented

Strategic Direction Progress:

GOAL: Understand current programs, hiring, and practices through an equity lens

Develop equity impact tool for all departments and City Council to support identification, evaluation, and communication of potential impact, both positive and negative, of a policy, plan, or program on equityIn progress
Audit current programs and practices using an equity impact toolNot started

GOAL: Establish internal framework and structures to support equity goals

Finalize the charter for the Advancing Racial Equity (ARE) CommitteeComplete
Develop an ARE Action Plan with metrics (inclusive of internal and external audit and community engagement)Not started

GOAL: Establish a training program for the City of Burien organization

Implement a training program for the City of Burien organizationNot started

Success Metrics for Advancing Racial Equity

Committee has clarity about focus, goals, roles, and responsibilities

Burien policies, plans, and programs advance opportunity and reduce harm to our community members

All staff have a common understanding of anti-racism and their role in that work

Burien has clarity about a vision and action steps for the 2025-26 biennium

Strategic Direction Progress:

GOAL: Customer service experience improved in prioritized areas

Launch online permit systemComplete
Launch and maintain new community service request system and internal customer service workflow (issue reporting)In progress
Launch external Laserfiche electronic content sharing and management systemIn progress

GOAL: Strengthen citywide community engagement and communications capacity

Internal Community Engagement Committee formedComplete
Community engagement training opportunities offered to staffIn progress
Community engagement and communications plan co-created with community stakeholders developed and implementedNot started
Maintain Burien Community Connectors programIn progress
Contract with community-based organizations to collaborate on engagement activitiesIn progress
City 101 virtual program launchedIn progress

GOAL: Digital engagement infrastructure maintained, expanded, and adapted to meet community need and expectation

New Burien website ( launchedIn progress
Update digital communications and engagement strategyNot started
Launch and maintain capital projects public dashboardNot started

Success Metrics for Centering Community Accountability

Time to respond to issues reduced

People impacted by projects, programs, and policies are more engaged

New and more members of community participating in civic processes

Community can find essential information and access online City services easily in formats that are accessible and meet their needs

Strategic Direction Progress:

GOAL: Achieve major planning and policymaking efforts

Economic Development Action Plan approvedIn progress
Comprehensive Plan update approvedIn progress
Transportation Master Plan approvedIn progress
Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan approvedIn progress
Critical area policy updates approvedNot started
Comprehensive Plan for five-year anniversary underwayNot started

GOAL: New zoning and design standards approved

Ambaum and Boulevard Park zoning code amendments with design standards adoptedIn progress
Expansion of Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) or affordable housing zoning adopted as part of Ambaum Boulevard Park Subarea PlanNot started
Subdivision section of the zoning code amendments adoptedNot started
Citywide middle housing zoning code amendments adoptedNot started
Urban Center/downtown zoning code amendments adoptedNot started
Critical area zoning code amendments adoptedNot started

GOAL: Increase the number and type of affordable housing units

Maintain affordable housing governance partnershipsIn progress
South King Housing and Homelessness Partners (SKHHP) affordable housing monitoring program establishedNot started
Extend or expand the Affordable Housing Demonstration ProgramNot started
Align City policy and planning documents with Washington State Affordable Housing Finance Commission scoring criteria for affordable housing tax credit awardsNot started
Advocacy with state and federal delegations for increased Low Income Housing Tax Credit funding for development of affordable housingNot started
Consider or create an inclusionary affordable housing code standard when market conditions would make such a program feasibleNot started
Deepen the affordability requirements associated with MFTE when market conditions would make such a change feasibleNot started
Create a shared parking program in downtown to reduce the cost of building new parking in new housing developmentsNot started
Attract developments that benefit the local community, including walkable amenities and servicesIn progress

GOAL: Attract new businesses and development

Permit system goes live for improved permit tracking and customer serviceIn progress
First round of targeted investment attraction campaign completeIn progress
Developer and property owner economic development opportunity sessions: Boulevard Park, Urban Center, AmbaumNot started
Outreach to regional developers to consider Urban Center development in advance of rezonesNot started
Boulevard Park targeted development attraction campaign to begin once zoning code amendments are in process or completeNot started
If MFTE program is expanded, a targeted marketing campaign to inform developersNot started
Redesign of Burien’s gateway at 1st Ave S and SW 148th StNot started

GOAL: Optimize opportunity sites

King County issues request for proposals for downtown transit-oriented development siteIn progress
Kinect@Burien development complete and openComplete
Mary’s Place affordable family housing under constructionNot started
Evaluate highest and best use for downtown City-owned propertiesIn progress
DESC permanent supportive housing construction completeIn progress
Port of Seattle issues RFP for a 10+-acre site on S 152nd St and Des Moines Memorial DriveNot started

Success Metrics for Reshaping Community through Smart, Mindful Development

Increase in the quality and diversity of jobs citywide

Increase in housing citywide

Increase in housing affordable to all income bands

Preservation strategies in place for naturally-occurring affordable housing

Comprehensive Plan (Burien 2044), Transportation Master Plan, Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan, Economic Development Action Plan approved

Increased development potential for commercially-zoned properties

Middle housing zoning in place

Urban Center and 1st Ave S mixed use/commercial zoning in place

Ambaum and Boulevard Park zoning in place

Design standards for residential/commercial sites in neighborhood centers in place

Affordable housing monitoring staff capacity and systems in place through SKHHP

Integrated, online permit system/customer service system launched and supported

Increase in number and valuation of commercial development permits issued

Increase in sales tax revenue

New housing development that meets community needs

More development for government-owned lands in the pipeline

How was the Strategic Plan developed?

The strategic planning process was a collaborative effort between the Burien City Council and City of Burien staff. Feedback from community gathered through public workshops and the Community Survey guided the strategic planning process. See Background below for more details.

How will the Plan be implemented?

The Strategic Plan will be central in guiding our actions and investments in the coming years, helping us:

  • Stay focused on what is most important, keeping community priorities in front of elected officials and City staff, partners, and community members
  • Establish aligned efforts across the City organization
  • Prioritize the use of resources, guiding staff development on budget proposals and framing the City Council’s adoption of a final budget

Progress will be regularly reviewed by the City Council and the City’s Leadership Team and updates will be shared with the community.

Burien Community Vision

A vibrant and creative community, where the residents embrace diversity, celebrate arts and culture, promote vitality, and treasure the environment.

Our Five-year Vision

In the next five years, as a result of our efforts we will see:

  • Smart, mindful development that equitably accommodates growth
  • Equal access to opportunity and quality of life
  • Resources to meet our community’s level-of-service needs
  • Informed, engaged, connected, diverse community
  • A sustainable budget that accounts for future growth
  • Root causes of homelessness addressed and housing in place for all

Our Obstacles

We recognize that we are blocked from our vision by:

  • Undefined and differing priorities about level-of-service standards
  • Limited public awareness of how government works and the need to partner externally in many areas
  • Ineffective and outdated systems
  • Limited revenue sources, fear about affordability, and honesty about what we need to fund core services
  • Incomplete and outdated approaches to community engagement
  • Ineffective ways of hearing from our diverse community


The City Council adopted a four-year strategic plan in 2016, with updates in 2017 and 2018. The priorities that were identified included nurturing a safe, healthy, and dynamic community and supporting a strong City organization.

In 2021, the City Council approved budget for strategic planning. Creative Strategy Solutions was hired to facilitate the strategic planning process.

City Council Special Meeting Materials