The Edmonds City Council Tuesday night reversed course and voted 5-2 to not pay off bonds with the $1.3 million Public Safety Reserve Fund. After limited public comment — one citizen — and a presentation from the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, the Council engaged in some prolonged discussions about the issue.
Councilmember Lora Petso thanked all the citizens who had spoken to her as well and also thanked My Edmonds News for its recent survey on the subject. She disagreed with the survey results (which showed citizens against the idea) and still pushed to pay down the bonds. Joining Petso was Councilmember Steve Bernheim, who tried to divert the argument away from what might happen once the bonds were paid down to the $100,000 in interest the city would save by doing so.
Council President Strom Peterson and Councilmember D.J. Wilson maintained their position that in these uncertain economic times it didn’t make sense to take a ready liquid asset and use it up on a long-term debt reduction. Meanwhile, Councilmembers Michael Plunkett and Diane Buckshnis reversed their earlier positions supporting the bond payoff and joined the vote against. Plunkett said he felt more information was needed regarding future projections and also supported the idea that the city should maintain flexibility with its cash, particularly with the possibility of self insuring for employee medical insurance. Buckshnis said she had also decided against the concept of the city using up the cash.
Needing a 5-2 super majority to pass, the vote was actually 5-2 against.
In other business, the council narrowed the list of City Attorney candidates from four to two: the incumbent firm Ogden Murphy Wallace and the Lighthouse group. Expect fireworks on this decision as it seemed the council was pretty evenly and adamantly opposed between the two groups. More public comment is being taken at the Feb. 15 council meeting with final decision scheduled for Feb. 22.