Our online utility bill pay system is currently down. The software vendor is looking into the issue. In the meantime, we will not proceed with shut-offs as scheduled for 2/28/23 and will update the timeline when the system returns. You can still pay by credit card, check or cash at City Hall.

We always recommend you review the full 2023-2024 Budget for specific details about funding, staffing and the projects that will happen because of this budget. This Budget in Brief gives you a quick overview of Sumner’s numbers and key strategies.

Budget Process

Chart of steps showing the budget process from public feedback to council priorities to staff needs to draft budget to council review and approval to work proceeding to evaluation which starts the process over again.
The budget drives everything we do, and your feedback throughout the year drives the budget.

Budget Principles

  1. Our budget cycle runs January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2024.
  2. We must balance our budget. For large capital projects, we save revenue over many years, crossing multiple budgets. In this budget, it initially looks like expenses are higher than revenue because we’re using balances saved from previous years to complete large capital projects.
  3. We use ongoing revenues to pay for ongoing expenses, and use one-time revenue to pay for one-time projects.
  4. Salaries and benefits remain our largest expense, meaning employees are the city’s most valuable asset.
  5. Each year, State and Federal regulations require more of cities with no additional funding, putting constant ongoing pressure on City budgets.
  6. The City’s budget is broken into General Fund, Special Revenue Funds, Enterprise Funds, etc. Each fund operates as an independent business. We cannot simply move funds from one to another. We routinely do studies to ensure funds like the utilities are healthy with revenues covering expenses while keeping rates as low as possible. These technical fund names make it difficult for most people to understand, so this document breaks out spending based on more identifiable functions such as public safety, utilities and streets.

Strategic Priorities

Graphic showing city's strategic priorities.
Community Character, Effective Transportation, Excellent Government, Protection of Natural Resources, Public Safety

Staffing by Function

Full-time equivalent city employees

Many staff fill multiple functions. For example, one Public Works Operator can work on a water main in the morning and a pothole repair in the afternoon. These breakdowns are estimations of how our time is spent.

Chart showing staffing FTEs by function with 32.375 for public safety, 36.75 for utilities, 35.4 for general government. 16 for community development, 2 for community services, 11 for streets & transportation for a total of 133.52 full time employees.


Projected Revenues

Taxes are the source of revenue most people think about, but they are not the only source. The City earned far more grant funding in 2023-2024 than in previous years. Charges for Service include permit fees.

Chart showing projected revenues: $42 million or 33% from charges for service, $50 million or 39% from grants & shared revenue, $35.7 million or 28% from taxes and $1 million or 0.1% from other.

Revenues by Year & Category

Chart showing revenue from 2021 actual to 2023 forecast for taxes, grants/shared revenue, charges for service and other.

Sales Tax Revenues

State of Washington sales tax is based on the destination in which a customer takes possession of the item. The graph starts at $6 million to better illustrate changes year over year. Sales Tax remains the most volatile source of income as it can fluctuate with the economy, so we budget conservatively.

Chart of sales tax revenue over years: $6.7 million actual in 2018, $6.7 million actual in 2019, $7.1 million actual in 2021, $9.1 million in actual in 2022. Forecast for 2023 is $8.3 million and for 2024 is $8.6 million.

More About Taxes

Taxes are not the City’s only source of revenue and the City is also not the only recipient of your tax dollars. See where your property tax and sales tax bills go.

Graphics showing the breakdown by percentage of jurisdictions receiving property tax revenue from a dollar and jurisdictions receiving sales taxes from purchases.

Current Economic Climate

Graphic showing statistics for the local economy including the Washington unemployment rate going from 5.1% to 4.1%, Pierce County unemployment rate going from 6.2% to 4.9%, city sales tax collection increased an average of 13.4% annually since 2019, city's total assessed valuation increased 16% to $4.97 billion and with new growth, 1,646,272 square feet permitted for building or renovation in 2022.


Budget by Expenditure Type

We have relatively low debt service for cities our size. This biennium, most funding is going to capital investments, which are one-time infrastructure expenses and operating costs, which are day-to-day activities.

Real World Examples

  • Utilities takes a lot of both capital infrastructure (like the streets torn up downtown for new water lines) and day-to-day staffing. Operating increased as issues like water rights have been taking time in the Legal department.
  • What’s a capital cost for Community Development? It’s parks & facilities! Upgrades like adding the Portland Loo restrooms add capital costs.
  • Capital costs are not just construction. Public Safety has a small capital budget for fleet, keeping police vehicles in top working order.
  • General government has no capital costs but takes a large portion of operating. Why? This portion includes a variety of primarily staff positions focusing on things like Legal staff responding to public records requests, Information Technology staff training to avoid a cybersecurity breach, Finance tracking the budget, and Communications informing you about it.

Operating Budget by Function

Total $78 Million

The Operating Budget includes the funding for day-to-day costs of delivering city services. As with most things, costs have increased for the city’s daily needs, from the price of gas to the cost to bring a crew in on overtime to repair a broken water main over the weekend.

Chart showing expenses for 2021-22 compared to 2023-24 for public safety, utilities, general government, community development, community services and streets and transportation.

Capital Budget by Function

Total: $89.5 million

The Capital Budget focuses on building infrastructure that will last for years to come. Because these are one-time costs for large projects, we did not show a year-to-year comparison.

Graph showing capital budget by function with percentages and dollars public safety, utilities, community development, community services, streets & transportation.

How We Are Making Lives Better:


  • Replace playground at Rainier View Park & redesign Heritage Park.
  • Paint the Sumner Senior Center
  • Celebrate a broader range of cultures in arts and events.
  • Rehabilitate Ryan House for broader, consistent use.
  • Secure funding for Seibenthaler Park & Bennett property development.


  • Grow community court to provide alternative resources to criminal defendants struggling with
  • underlying addiction or mental health disorders.
  • Add position for Emergency Manager/Safety Coordinator.
  • Build new Operations Facility to respond to broken water mains, filling potholes or plowing snow.
  • Partner with Co-operative Cities to provide specialized police services.


  • Improve explanation for when/why projects need a permit & offer a fee calculator.
  • Update the Comprehensive Plan.
  • Focus on employee cross-training to add staffing depth to department.
  • Review and update the non-represented Salary Study.
  • Configure and implement new mobile device management solution.


  • Build Habitat project of White River Restoration project to provide flood protection & wildlife habitat.
  • Offer green burial options at Sumner Cemetery.
  • Update the Parks, Trails & Open Space plan.
  • Replace back-up generators that keep the treatment plant working in power outages.
  • Complete design and advance permitting for a fish passage culverts along Salmon Creek.


  • Complete the construction of the Academy Street Bike Lane Project.
  • Relaunch public/private sidewalk program.
  • Finish Town Center: Main & Wood intersection construction.
  • Continue replacing plastic pavement markings every 7 years, restriping lane lines annually, patching potholes as needed, and chip sealing roadways every 15 years.
Categories: Around Town

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