By Harry Gatjens
After an hour of discussion about the refunding and potential payoff of City of Edmonds bonds, the Council finally decided to do more research on REET (real estate excise tax) allocations and make a final decision on Feb. 8.
It seemed like the vote split at the end of the discussion was the same as it was at the beginning, 4-3 in favor. However, as this decision requires a special “off-schedule” budget amendment, the vote needs to be 5-2 or better in order to pay off the City Hall bonds. A bond refinance can be done with the 4-3 vote, but not the payoff.
The main point of contention is what is the best way to make use of the City’s $1,319,000 Public Safety Reserve Fund. There is still disagreement over whether the City has adequate reserves; by paying off the bonds could we then leverage new bonds and get a multiplier effect and can the allocation of REET funds be altered to reduce the emphasis on parks? The discussion also included a disagreement between ex-councilmember Ron Wambolt and current councilmember Michael Plunkett over whose memory was better.
Several members of the public spoke up about the payoff issue, some for it and some against. Some of those testifying liked the idea that money from REET could be used together with matching fund grants in order to multiply their value. Council President Strom Peterson then mentioned that you can get the same matching fund grants, if not more, if you used the cash.
So it was proposed that the council discuss REET allocations at its retreat next week, and then bring this up during a special, one-agenda-item meeting of the full council at 6 p.m. Feb. 8.