Edmonds City Council approves 2014 budget, debates Sunset Walkway and rail overpass options
In a long meeting, the Edmonds City Council approved the 2014 budget. With no changes since the amendments brought forward in last week’s meeting, the vote was unanimous.
The budget showed an increase in revenue of $2.3 million over 2013 projections. This revenue will come from $300,000 in increased EMS property tax, a $725,000 carryover of under-expended funds in 2013, $200,000 in increased permit fee revenue and another $200,000 from reimbursements from utility funds for engineering services.
The budget showed an increase in expenses of $5.2 million over 2013. This included $1.1 million to “restart” the contingency and general reserve funds, $370,000 for engineering and development hires that will be funded by increased revenues, and $1.4 million in one-time projects such as street paving and other smaller items.
The 2014 budget will have expenses in excess of revenues by $1.6 million. However, this is possible due to a surplus that has built up over the past several years. It allows the city to do some deferred maintenance projects that have been put off for the past several years.
The council delayed action on the Point Edwards Building 10 appeal, as the attorney hired by the city to conduct the hearing, Carol Morris, was unable to attend Tuesday night to present a recap of the findings of the hearing held last month. The action has been rescheduled until Dec.17.
The council approved the city’s comprehensive sewer plan and the capital facilities plan with the caveat that the capital facilities plan could be amended after further consideration of the Sunset Avenue Walkway Project.
The Walkway Project had substantial public comment and discussion earlier in the meeting. The public comment ran 11 to 1 against the project with nine of the commenters residing on Sunset Avenue. The main concerns were that the project would narrow the roadway and put pedestrians, bicyclists and skaters all on a narrow walkway. Both ideas were thought to create safety issues. The counter was that the current situation, with people walking in the roadway, is already a safety concern. There are additional issues related to what the railroad’s reaction would be to bringing pedestrians closer to the tracks.
There also was a public hearing on a study to analyze the options for dealing with the downtown railroad crossing and emergency services in the event of crossing blockage. A lively debate came about over whether to do a study looking for a less expensive but more expeditious solution for getting emergency services to the water side of the tracks or to do a more comprehensive study dealing with traffic across the railroad tracks and implications on the ferries, commerce and the emergency situation. The debate was kind of split evenly and there will certainly be more discussion on this topic in the future.
In addition, the council approved a 27-lot plat development to the west side of Hickman Park. Council President Lora Petso recused herself from this discussion to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. The vote was 5-1 in favor, with Joan Bloom voting no.
The Council also delayed discussion and action on a “Code of Conduct” and a change in the city code dealing with confirmation and duties of City Officers.
Even delaying those items the meeting still went until 11 p.m.
– By Harry Gatjens