Budget implications of Skippers plan concern Edmonds police chief

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Two weeks ago, when the Edmonds City Council began debating a proposal to buy the vacant Skippers Restaurant property for $1.1 million, Councilmember D.J. Wilson expressed many reservations, not the least of which was how the purchase might impact funding for the city’s police department.

As it turns out, Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan also has concerns about the timing of the Skippers purchase, and its implications on the police budget as well as the city’s general fund.

In an interview Monday, Compaan reflected on funding cuts and the additional workload impacting his department in recent years due to city budget constraints, including the elimination of the crime prevention officer (along with the neighborhood block watch program she coordinated), as well as two part-time employees who oversaw the city’s vacation watch program. The department now has one member of its clerical staff devoted to handling public records requests — which range from police reports to training and personnel records — which have nearly doubled in the past five years.

“We’ve kind of gone back to the basics without a lot of frills,” Compaan said. “We’re going to do the very best that we can to provide excellent, responsive 911 service, but our ability to be proactive in the area of crime prevention in particular has been unfortunately diminished because of the cuts.”

With 56 commissioned police officers, Edmonds’ ratio of 1.37 police officers per thousand population is one of the lowest in the Puget Sound region, a figure that Councilmember Wilson cited when he argued against the Skippers purchase two weeks ago.

“We need more help,” Compaan agreed. “A staff assistant, more police officers, a crime prevention unit of some sort. “We’ve had an excellent group of employees who have been very dedicated to the department and the community. Because police staff have been willing to wear a variety of hats, the department budget cuts haven’t been visible to general public, he said, “but that’s become increasingly difficult. You can only do so much before it gets tiring.”

Regarding the Council’s vote that could potentially cost the city $1.1 million, “I’m concerned about the potential impact that (the Skippers property) purchase or any other significant purchase will have on the general fund,” Compaan said. “I mean, $1.1 million for the city in the financial position that it’s in right now is a fair chunk of change. It’s a fair chunk of change even on a good day.

“I’d be just as concerned if mayor said, ‘I need 10 additional parks department people,'” he continued. “It all may be needed, but is it the right time?”

8 COMMENTS

  1. Apparently the five council member want to spend the fire department sale money on this .37 acre piece of land, with the balance coming from general funds. Analogous to buying an expensive piece of jewelry when you really should be paying for health insurance.

    Or putting yourself in debt by the purchase of a new home you can’t afford…by cashing out your 401k and asking your parents for a loan…

  2. I agree completely. Any councilperson who votes in favor of this purchase is not only ignoring the overwhelming public opinion AGAINST the purchase, but is showing themselves to be fiscally irresponsible and, therefore, unqualified to even be on the council. This vote will not be forgotten when the next election comes.

  3. The attempt by opponents of a potential Skipper’s purchase to paint a hardship for city employees is a typical illogical scare tactic. Factually this approximate 3.5% of the budget will have minute if any effect on wages. And there are many options available to the Council to grab this once in a lifetime opportinity, many totally independent and/or partially independent of the General Fund.

    A common scare tactic used by this Mayor and his friends in case of levy failure has been to threaten a reduction of funds for the Police and Fire Depts. Now that Fire Dept. is out of the picture the Council must insist on a hold the line police budget. Public safety is paramount.

    Edmonds employee generally enjoyed a 2% “cost of living” raise this year even though there was no real increase in costs, and of yes, that includes the furlough days–Pretty good deal in this tight times, 2% raise and more days off. How much did your Social Security increase?

    Purchasing Skipper’s is a great opportunity with virtually no risk. It could very well be an beginning building block for the citizen’s view of what THEY want THEIR city to be. Remember the winning plan for that area suggested by the high school students? And how the developer reneged on their prize? Its not hard to understand how these thoughts bother the Mayor, Wilson, Peterson, their high rise buddies and their SECRET agreements and meetings.

  4. Mr. Martin,

    Ms. Fraley-Monillas did a fine job trying to spin what has been said to put words in people’s mouths. I haven’t heard anyone threaten a cut in wages. What I have heard people say is that city employees have ALREADY taken furlough days.

  5. You’re not listening Ray! The CITIZENS don’t want the City to buy Skippers. Fortunately you are not the only citizen in the city!

  6. The real problem is that the city council is not listening! Most citizens at the April 20 and 27 council meetings spoke in opposition to the purchase; additionally, the poll on this website has only 15% of citizens favoring the purchase. There is no indication that the Gang of Five will change their minds.

  7. “Purchasing Skipper’s is a great opportunity with virtually no risk. ” – There is a ton of risk. Why should the city engage in land speculation? Plus considering many experts, not cranks that sit in city meetings, feel that commercial land is about to crash the way home ownership did a few years ago. Remember when people said home values would never go down? Why is this property for sale again? Ahhh yes, it is in foreclosure. Surely there was and is a risk there.

    “It could very well be an beginning building block for the citizen’s view of what THEY want THEIR city to be. Remember the winning plan for that area suggested by the high school students? And how the developer reneged on their prize? Its not hard to understand how these thoughts bother the Mayor, Wilson, Peterson, their high rise buddies and their SECRET agreements and meetings.” – Stop with the conspiracy theory and smokescreen junk Ray. No one thinks the Queen of England is in cahoots with anyone to destroy Edmonds. And there has been no talk of buildings on the Skippers property at all, let alone of tall buildings, except by you and your pals that desire to spend money we don’t have on something we don’t need and don’t know what we are going to do with. Seriously, stop with all the fear mongering and whispers and lies. Give it a rest.

    If you quit blathering about SECRET meetings (not accurate) I’ll quit bringing up the illegal quorum (accurate) that your pet council members held.

    Finally, keep your hands off our city staff. I doubt they enjoyed extra time off, as you put it, when they were forced to take unpaid leave so the city didn’t go bankrupt. Our city staff does a great job while at one of the lowest ratios of employees to citizens in the country. So quit trying to pay for this 1/3 of an acre using their family’s wages.

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