It was a short meeting for the Edmonds City Council Monday night — one hour and one minute, to be exact — but during that time the council observed the swearing in of new Police Corporal Michael Richardson; appointed pro and con committees for the three property tax levies that will appear on the November general election ballot; listened to a report from Mayor Mike Cooper on the New Energy Cities contract and received an update on the city’s fiber optic project. The meeting was held a day earlier than usual to accommodate Tuesday’s primary election.
Richardson, who has been with the Edmonds Police Department since 1991, has served four years as a detective with the South Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force and since 2003 has been the special assault and crimes against persons detective. He also spent five years as an investigator on the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team and was named the department’s Officer of the Year in 1993.
Regarding the committees formed for and against the levies, Council President Strom Peterson announced the names of those who have signed up so far, but noted that the “Con” Committees could use a few more members. Here’s the list of those named Monday night:
City Services Levy
Pro: Strom Peterson, Dave Page, Kelly Schwarting
Con: Councilmember DJ Wilson, Harry Gatjens
Pro: Walter Peale, Graham Marmion, Darrol Haug
Con: DJ Wilson
Parks/Building Maintenance Levy
Pro: Steve Bernheim, William Keppler, Daniel McMillin
Con: DJ Wilson
Anyone who wants to participate in a committee can be added by emailing Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Members will need to sign a form (their names will appear on the ballot), attend a meeting, and participate in email conversations to finalize the statements, which must be finished by the end of August.
The New Energy Cities report presented by Mayor Cooper, which is attached here, focused on efforts to create an action plan to help the city and its residents save energy and money. The plan was reviewed by the Mayor’s citizen-based Climate Protection Committee, which along with staff prioritized 2011 action items that included: community outreach and involvement, the creation of an electric vehicle infrastructure for both the city and the public, and analysis of retrofitting both municipal and residential buildings to be more energy efficient.
On the community involvement front, the city developed a new website, EdmondsEnergy.org, aimed at helping citizens find ways to save money through conservation. As for the vehicle infrastructure, the city’s new car-charging stations are already in place in the parking lot south of City Hall and will be operational soon, with two more to be added soon in the public safety building parking lot as well as additional stations on Main Street.
Cooper was quick to note that the city’s recently acquire hybrid Toyota Prius and electric Nissan Leaf vehicles were subsidized by federal energy block grant dollars that paid the difference between the cost of a gasoline-powered vehicle and one powered with alternative energy. The cost of a Leaf, for example, is $34,000 but the city paid $17,000, Cooper said. In addition, the city will save about $7,000 annually on fuel costs with the new vehicles. “Regardless of which side of the climate debate you are on, it’s real savings to the taxpayers,” he added.
The next step is for the New Energy Cities team to assist the City in developing an energy-efficiency program focused on retrofitting single-family homes. The idea is for the city to become a clearinghouse of information about what is available for residents who want to save money on their energy bills, from subsidized or free energy assessments to low-interest loans. The city has also been talking with the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce and local business owners about commercial retrofits to make businesses more energy efficient as well, Cooper said.
In the final item of business, Chief Information Officer Carl Nelson provided an update on the city’s efforts to market its 24 strands of fiber optic cable, which so far have been largely unused by anyone other than the city itself. Nelson told the Council that SNOCOM, Southwest Snohomish County’s local 911 communications center, returned a signed interlocal agreement for the City to provide Internet services, with approval expected this week.
While the city has spent $492,000 to activate the broadband network, it is saving approximately $97,000 annually because it doesn’t have to purchase fiber optic services, and is expected to recoup its investment by 2015. Target markets that the city is looking at include other government entities, private sector businesses, education and medical facilities.