Edmonds City Council to discuss levy options Tuesday night

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Tuesday night’s Edmonds City Council agenda includes a discussion of levy options that could be presented to citizens in the upcoming election cycle. Mayor Mike Cooper sent his proposal for a $2.26 million levy to the council March 30, but it’s likely that councilmembers will propose their own ideas.

In addition, the council is scheduled to:

– Hear a report on the New Energy Cities action plan.

– Hold a public hearing on a plan to surplus city utility assets.

– Review and approve an agreement for legal representation of indigent defendants.

– Consider a request to authorize issuance of a Request for Proposal (RFP) to develop a citywide strategic plan.

– In anticipation of more pedestrian-friendly development in the Westgate neighborhood, consider a proposed interim zoning ordinance that would reduce the minimum 20-foot street setback to 5 feet in the BN zone.

In addition, on the council consent agenda is final approval of a site lease for roof space on the Frances Anderson Center and an Energy Services Agreement with the Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative to facilitate construction of a community solar energy system.

The complete council agenda is here. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N. The council’s Public Safety and Human Resources Committee will meet prior to the Council meeting, starting at 5:30 p.m

 

21 COMMENTS

  1. The mayor’s levy proposal fails to completely fund street maintenance, yet adds a crime prevention officer.

    Do we really need a crime prevention officer? Take a look at what a crime prevention officer does:
    http://www.ci.mukilteo.wa.us/page.asp?navid=74

    While it might be nice to have one, this just doesn’t sound like an essential service.
    By failing to completely fund the street overlay program, we will spend much more money in the future to repair the results of inadequate maintenance. Street overlays should be completely funded before we fund non-essential services.
    Unfunded street overlays are equivalent to a leaking roof. Pay now, or pay a lot more later. It’s a sneaky way for a city to borrow money and we shouldn’t allow Edmonds to do it.

    p.s. I’m reposting this message under this article so it doesn’t get lost in the arguments over who did what when in the now defunct Transportation Committee.

  2. The 2010 levy committee will be meeting in April to finalize its recommendations. We support a specialized levy funding the entire amount as you are correct – half a job will only get more costly in the future.

    At least the Mayor has gotten the conversation started.

  3. I agree that the Mayor deserves kudos for showing leadership and getting the conversation started. I should have given him credit for that. I do like the guy!

    I’m pleased to hear what you think the actual levy should look like.

  4. I CANNOT SUPPORT ANY LEVY UNTIL COUNCIL HAS FIRST DONE ALL THAT IS APPROPRIATE WITH EXPENSES. I DON’T BELIEVE THAT EXPENSES CAN BE CUT BY AN AMOUNT THAT WOULD NEGATE THE NEED FOR A LEVY, BUT THE CUTS WOULD EITHER REDUCE THE LEVY AMOUNT OR PROVIDE MORE FUNDS FOR ROADS AND SIDEWALKS.

    EXPENSES CANNOT BE MEANINGFULLY BROUGHT UNDER CONTROL IF COMPENSATION GOES UNTOUCHED. COMPENSATION IN THE 2011 BUDGET, FOR ALL 213 EMPLOYEES, AMOUNTS TO 53% OF ALL EXPENSES. THAT’S DOWN FROM OVER 70%, ONLY BECAUSE THE FIRE DEPARTMENT WAS MERGED INTO FD1.

    REGRETTABLY, COUNCIL MEMBERS HAVE SPENT NO TIME, AT LEAST BEFORE THE PUBLIC, SCRUTINIZING COMPENSATION.

    BECAUSE OF THE CURRENT ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT, I HAVE FREQUENTLY URGED THE CITY COUNCIL TO REVIEW WHAT’S HAPPENING IN OUR CITY WITH EMPLOYEE CONCESSIONS COMPARED TO WHAT’S BEING NEGOTIATED BY OTHER GOVERNMENTS. SOME EDMONDS WORKERS (NOT POLICE OR FIRE) TOOK FURLOUGHS IN 2009, AND SOME WERE NOT GIVEN MERIT INCREASES, BUT ALL EMPLOYEES DID RECEIVE COST OF LIVING INCREASES OF 5.8%.

    THE CITY HAS DONE ITS REGULAR COMPENSATION SURVEY FOR 2011, AND AS A RESULT OF THOSE FINDINGS THE PAY RANGES HAVE BEEN INCREASED. HOWEVER NOT AT ALL CONSIDERED IS THE FACT THAT THE EMPLOYEES OF MANY OF THE SURVEYED CITIES ARE HAVING THEIR COMPENSATION REDUCED BY CONTINUING FURLOUGHS, PAY CUTS, ETC,

    FOR THE YEARS 2009, 2010 AND 2011, LET’S LOOK AT
    WHAT’S HAPPENING IN COMPARABLE CITIES. I ALSO BELIEVE THAT IT WOULD BE VALUABLE TO HAVE SNOHOMISH COUNTY, KING COUNTY AND STATE WORKERS INCLUDED IN THE BENCHMARKING, AS THOSE WORKERS HAVE MADE CONSIDERABLE CONCESSIONS. THE RESULTS OF THAT BENCHMARKING WOULD BE A GOOD INDICATOR FOR WHAT SHOULD BE
    DONE WITH THE COMPENSATION FOR EDMONDS EMPLOYEES

  5. I have heard that we have settled the police union contract. Would be nice to know what the results of that contract were. Maybe some one human resources or an elected official would inform us.

  6. Here’s the status of police union contract negotiations, according to Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan: The police officers/sergeants contract is valid through the end of this year. Negotiations will start on a new agreement mid-year 2011. The contract covering civilian police employees expired at the end of 2010 and negotiations on that contract are ongoing – no settlement yet.

  7. Why don’t you create your own website for these files? It’s free and pretty easy. You get 10 gigabytes of space. Then you can provide links in a message here. To get started:

    http://sites.google.com/

    Maintaining a public file server could get pretty time consuming and/or expensive for Teresa. I’d rather see her spending her time bringing us news about Edmonds.

  8. I just re-read my comment and I now see how it might have been misinterpreted. I did not intend to comment on the newsworthiness of Ron’s message or the files that have since been posted. This information is clearly newsworthy and deserving of publication.

    I only intended to comment on the suggestion that Teresa set up an FTP server where people can upload files. It sounds like a significant amount of work, and that’s not where I think Teresa should spend her time. We have the existing alternatives of emailing them to Teresa (which Ron did) or setting up a personal website as I suggested.

    Ron, I apologize for my poor phrasing.

  9. Ron and Joe:
    It is easy for me to post documents here and make them available — and I will do it for any citizen who has something of general interest they want to share.

  10. Ron,

    I couldn’t agree more that we need more transparency in government and I applaud your efforts to demand it. But I think the biggest obstacle to transparency is not that citizens fail to demand it, though that IS a problem. The biggest problem is that transparency is nearly always punished and is rarely rewarded. We’ve all witnessed on this forum how citizens and city councilmembers advocating for transparent accounting get severely attacked and criticized. I’m not going to say their efforts are above criticism, but I can see why so few attempt to fix that problem.

    Transparency in government costs time and money. Are we willing to pay for it? I know I am. Secrecy brings ample rewards. How do we reward transparency?

    So if anyone does create a citizen’s union website, I would encourage you to have a prominent place where courageous acts of those in government are recognized. It might turn out to be the most valuable thing you do.

  11. Thank you Joan and Ron B. for your support with this critical issue. The examples of compensation cuts that you have given, Joan, could be followed up by many more. Those who do not want to deal with the issue will debunk the examples that we give as being only anecdotal – not a scientific analysis.

    So I say to the mayor, city council members, and to the officers of the various unions, show us some coureagous leadership by determining just how the concessions given by the employees of Edmonds stack up against other government workers in our state. The union negotiators do a thorough job learning how the compensation of their members stacks up against their peers; it’s very likely that they’re also well acquainted with the concession data.

  12. 5.8% reflects the Cost of living increase from the Bureau of Labor in 2008 and the adjustment is made in early 2009. For 2009 and 2010 it was 0. However considering the fact that Edmonds was already known to be in poor financial shape in 2009, it sure is questionable. Perhaps it is tied to the unions. Maybe someone can shed light on why they had such a big increase in light of the financial picture.

  13. Great discussion, should be required reading for Mayor Cooper and the City Council. I’ve learned much from following the back and forth of some pretty sharp citizens.

    It appears we may have a bit of a Wisconsin problem in Edmonds.

  14. I opposed the current compensation policy ever since it was implemented in 2006, because the policy has been designed to be easily administered and defensibility was sacrificed. The policy is not my issue at this time. The budget provides for retaining a compensation consultant; and that’s what’s needed to correct the flawed policy.

    My issue at this time is the need to assess the concessions being given by government workers around our state in order to determine what needs to be done here in Edmonds. That is something that I’ve been talking about for nearly one year; potential savings have now been lost for that period of time.

    Finally, I believe that there is merit in Ron B.’s concern about the staffing level of Development Services. The number of construction projects started to crash 3 years ago. Further evidence of the sharp reduction in construction is the frequent cancellation of Architectural Design Board (ADB) meetings. Yet the staffing level of those departments involved with construction activities has not been reduced. One of Murphy’s Laws says tha work expands to fill the time available. So we are not only not benefiting from reduced staff savings, there’s a good possibility that staff will have to be increased when construction activity returns to a more normal level.

    The Administration’s answer to all of this is more taxes.

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