The Edmonds City Council spent a considerable amount of time amending and massaging Mayor Mike Cooper’s proposed 2011 City of Edmonds budget, but in the end councilmembers weren’t happy enough with it to adopt it.
Instead, they voted 4-3 against budget approval, delaying passage until the last Council meeting of the year — Tuesday, Dec. 21 — to allow time for formatting issues and other unanswered logistical questions to be resolved. Of those who voted no:
– Councilmember Diane Buckshnis reiterated her long-standing complaint that the City’s Finance Department was not transparent enough in how it reports budget numbers, making it confusing for both councilmembers and citizens to understand.
– Councilmember Michael Plunkett said that before he voted for the budget, he wanted to see a final document that included various amendments that had been passed Tuesday night by council.
– Councilmember Lora Petso noted that she had never before in her council career actually voted for a budget, but she might do so this time, if she had an opportunity to take a closer look before the 21st.
– And Councilmember D.J. Wilson said he was “philosophically opposed” to a budget that focuses on short-term fixes and isn’t sustainable in the long run.
Among the amendments the council approved to the nearly $35.6 million draft budget:
$100,000 to hire a consultant to develop a strategic plan for economic development in Edmonds, as recommended by the city’s 17-member Economic Development Commission.
$100,000 to be used for future bond debt for the Edmonds Center for the Arts. (The Council earlier in the meeting had separately approved $100,000 be allocated to the ECA from the City Lodging Tax.)
A reduction of $100,000 budgeted to pay for City Attorney’s fees, from $597,000 to $497,000. “It’s one area we can control,” noted Plunkett. “I’m all for making an attempt.
$50,000 to fund a compensation consultant.
A reduction of $50,000 in “prisoner care” – essentially room and board for those put in jail.
$30,000 to complete the area designated for a park in front of Old Mill Town. The project has been delayed due to lack of funding required to prepare the land, add utilities and do landscaping.
$5,000 to the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce to help fund its annual Fourth of July Fireworks show.
The council did approve the Mayor’s choice to fill the vacant position of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director. Carrie Hite, currently deputy director of the City of Kirkland, starts her new job in January. Hite has Edmonds roots; she graduated from the former Woodway High School and her mother still lives in Edmonds.
The council also:
– Agreed to increase fines for illegally cutting down trees. The penalty will go from $500 per tree to $1,000 per tree, for those 1 to 2 inches in diameter, and to $3,000 for trees 3 inches or larger in diameter.
– Approved amendments to update the City’s civil enforcement procedures regarding code violations.