From the Edmonds Mayor: It’s the economy, stupid!

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Mayor Dave Earling
Mayor Dave Earling

Ah yes, the famous theme from the 1992 Presidential Campaign between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, coined by James Carville. Hard to believe it’s been 23 years ago, but the message still plays well for most any private company CEO or an elected leader overseeing a city, county or state budget.

We must pay attention to parks, the arts, streets, water, sewer, public safety, etc., but the bottom line is how do you pay for all the pieces? How do we keep meeting the quality of life expectations the citizens of the community have and want, and where does the revenue come from?

In case you haven’t noticed, we at the city have not asked you to consider a tax increase while I have been in office. The reason of course is we made very deep cuts in the budget in the 2012-13 budget process, including losing 12 staff positions, 4 percent across-the-board departmental cuts, renegotiating a staff health care package and a variety of other reductions. No fun, but necessary.

With those cuts, an improving economy and our efforts in economic development, we have come roaring back! Last year we had a strong rebound in sales tax, property values rebounded, home sales were brisk and new home and commercial construction were booming. The even better news is our revenue stream has improved yet again through May of this year.

Our downtown and waterfront have new energy and a sense of vitality which I have not seen in years… probably ever!

Highway 99 has made great progress with new businesses being added, a flourishing International District, the Swedish Edmonds expansion, busy car dealerships and the new Win-Co grocery store, which will be opening soon.

Westgate continues to thrive. A new Starbuck’s is under construction, and the council’s recent zoning changes in that area will allow a new and different look to the area.

Right now, things are looking strong for next year.

All of this is great news, right? You bet it is, so celebrate!

But now, a word of caution; the current economic expansion will not be endless. The ongoing dilemma I continue to stress, and worry about, is we must continue to seek new ways to generate revenue. Our city of 40,000 is more or less completely built out. We do not have “big box” stores or shopping malls, which generate substantial sales tax income. We have a fabulous city; the quality of life, the people who reside and work here, the schools, the port… the list is long!

As expenses rise over time, where does the long-term revenue come from to balance the expenses we know will happen? (I know with the previous sentence I will generate the comments along the line of “I smell a tax hike coming.”) Yes, I suppose a tax increase is a way to generate new revenue, but I’m not interested in new taxes now! The other option is to keep our local businesses healthy and find creative solutions to expand our economy, thus generating additional revenue.

Challenges indeed, but for now, let’s enjoy the many celebrations we will have this summer; the 4th of July, A Taste of Edmonds, the Edmonds Classic Car Show and the 125 Anniversary celebration of the founding of our city. Oh yes, and celebrate the arts by enjoying the annual Edmonds Arts Festival this weekend!

— By Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling

19 COMMENTS

  1. Soooo, Your Ideas to generate more income in the City’s Coffer is to Jam another 1200 people into the Westgate Neighborhood and Cut back on City Services ???
    That might work for your Developer Doner Friends & GOP cronies but not for the average working Joe/Jill in Edmonds.
    How about this Economic Plan instead ???

    1) Cut your OWN salary 1st before anybody else loses their job. The Buck stops with YOU
    2) Fire the Economic Development Committee for not doing their job.
    3) HigherTaxes – Banks, Pharmacies, and any Publicly Traded Companies located in Edmonds because they are the biggest Pigs at the trough, They didn’t suffer from Bush’s Economic A-Bomb. We did.
    4) Allow Marijuana businesses to operate in Edmonds.This is how you grow a region Economically by adding New types of businesses and filling existing Office / Retail Space.
    You and the Counsil should be ashamed to go against the will of the People of Edmonds. (Maybe we should let the losers of elections sit on the Counsil and in your seat because that is exactly what you have done).

    Why have elections anyway ? It’s now “whoever has the most money wins”

    No Mr. Mayor, Your vision for Edmonds looks more like Kirkland than Edmonds
    I love Edmonds, been here all my life & I’d run against you if possible but six figures is too high of a price to pay for your job. I believe in Democracy.

    If voters write me in then I would gladly accept and work for them not privleged few.

  2. Perhaps our Mayor envisions a town (oops, I should put “city”) that will in the near future look like Kirkland, a no longer quaint little town…..The small area of beach left there in Kirkland is shocking and thank you very much to $$$ and one particular industry.
    ……I think I read that the president of the Puget Sound Regional Council had been a real estate person……..and I beleive the person at our Port at the top responding to the Department of Ecology regarding the new Master Shoreline Act (Harbor Square) is a real estate person with real estate adds in the paper every week. Our tax dollars going to fight ecology and what is good for the environment in favor of development and those that make money off of that one industry, in my opinion
    It was not too long ago that a real estate business here had our Mayors name and phone number online to call regarding real estate business . This “mistake” was fixed with the removal of his name…..but I had to wonder had this not been pointed out by a citizen, how long it would have gone by uncorrected? and if it could have generated any business with the Mayor having his name on a real estate business less than 500 feet from City Hall and his office……..just wondering?…..

    These are all thoughts Im pondering in regards to the future of Edmonds and how we want Edmonds to BE and LOOK………I think I like that quaint town feeling and the “Main” street……..I know people that have left Kirkland and Ballard right here in my neighborhood in Edmonds…..They have left because of what was lost in their towns…….

    and call me picky, but yesterday I saw a zillion people (tourism, shopping, eating, etc.in our town, up and down Main Street, $$$) and many, many out of towners at the Edmonds Arts Festival, yet I have not found where the City of Edmonds actually supports the EDMONDS Arts Festival which I believe generates quite a bit of money……believe it is all volunteer and wondering why our city does not support this?……speaking of generating business….just wondering. Perhaps our Mayor could address this.

    I believe it is time for a change where the citizens are at the top, not the bottom…..and this town is not “used” to generate money for, yes, the select few……..

    Citizens at the top.

  3. Teresa-
    Now you allow personal attacks on business ownens and elected officials in Edmonds who try and make a living by Tere Ryder, when will these attacts be banished from my Edmonds News

    Fred Gouge
    Port of Edmonds Commission
    Realtor in downtown Edmonds

  4. Here’s the code of conduct that applies to the above comments:

    My Edmonds News users agree to not do the following
    — abuse, threaten or verbally attack other members, individuals, or My Edmonds News staff. We do not tolerate bullies, and we’ll do our best to spot them and get rid of them;
    – post libelous, obscene or pornographic material or content that contains racist, sexist, homophobic and other slurs;
    – deliberately post stories that are untrue, false or misleading or that make false representations about the poster him/herself;

    My Edmonds News readers will:
    – be accountable for stories they post and follow up by correcting known errors;
    – resist attacks, insults and threats and instead remain civil and focused on the ideas being presented rather than the individuals expressing them;
    – promote interactivity and dialogue that supports real community collaboration;
    – avoid the use of ALL CAPS in their comments as that is seen by others as shouting. At a maximum, we request no more than three ALL CAPS word per comment.

    Let’s review:
    Here is what in my opinion, as publisher of this website, falls under that category:

    1) “Quid Pro Quo for Westgate Huh ?” — that implies wrongdoing and no way to prove that…so it will be deleted.

    2) “…and if it could have generated any business with the Mayor having his name on a real estate business less than 500 feet from City Hall and his office……..just wondering?….. “that implies wrongdoing that has not been proven, so that will be deleted.

    3) As for the comment about the Port Commissioner “and I beleive the person at our Port at the top responding to the Department of Ecology regarding the new Master Shoreline Act (Harbor Square) is a real estate person with real estate adds in the paper every week.” The president of the Port Commission is not in real estate so that is factually incorrect. That has been so noted for those who have read this far…

    Also factually incorrect is the statement that the Edmonds City Council voted against marijuana businesses in the city. We have covered that issue for quite some time and the only reason that marijuana businesses were not allowed in Edmonds is because the locations proposed by those business owners did not comply with the buffers around schools, daycares, etc. that the legislation itself requires. That has been so noted.

    Oh, and may I just add that it IS election season, even though many candidates are running unopposed…

    Teresa

  5. Public officials and committee /commission officials must realize they are held to a higher standard because of their place REPRESENTING the citizens.

    Yes, this is election season and thats why matters regarding what appears to some could be conflicts of interest, as a democracy should be brought to the forefront.

    I guess it must have been somebody else I saw in the adds regularily…….If that is true I stand corrected.

    Well again, I stand correctecd. I am looking at an ad in a local news source from June 18, with the same name plus a picture.

    This is an election season and people have the right to know who represents them.

    These are not personal attacks and please do not call them that

  6. Regarding “efforts in economic development” (regarding housing) I hope all of our officials, elected, non elected, commission people, committees, City Council, Mayor, etc. are well aware of the landmark reaffirmation of the 1968 FAIR HOUSING ACT made recently this past week by our Supreme Court.

    It is against the law to take Federal Housing money for subsidized/low income housing that perpetuates segregation……And as this has apparently occured now for decades all over the country, one does not have to have proof that it was intentional…….perpetuates segregation.

    Yes, it is about the economy, but also more important for a community about fairness, trust and following the rules of law representing a whole community, each and every citizen equal. . .

    • Obviously, lenders, real estate agents, and City Codes should be reflective of an environment that promotes diversity – what is creating disparity in Edmonds is the housing market itself. People want to be in Edmonds. It offers a vibrant, active, peaceful, and progressive (for the most part) community that every family wants to be a part of. Having been looking for a new home for the past six months – the market is prohibitive – the options are limited, with an entry point of $550,000 for a gut to $50k rehab – that makes it prohibitive. The fact that housing prices are that high – it reflects good community government and leadership – not crappy government that runs the city into the ground. We have placed multiple offers on homes throughout the City – and every single one of them has had at least a 10% above ask – and the ones we have not bid on – the sellers are doing the right thing by getting every single dollar they can.

      Multi family developments are difficult in a town with limited land – but in my opinion, the only way Edmonds is going to get to a more diverse community is to promote affordable multi-family developments in the right areas. With multi-family come impacts, and the City and the Staff need to work with developers to make sure that those impacts are fairly and equitably paid for.

      I suspect that the fair folks of Edmonds are not going to lower their housing prices per square foot to the average prices in Meadowdale or Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace to promote more diversity – and I suspect if they did, the market would quickly buy up every home and sell it for the value they could receive – and placing the blame on city government about fairness – well that’s just not true either –

      This is a difficult balancing act for any City – look at Vancouver, BC – and the ruin that has happened along Grandville as folks have come in, bought the beautiful old mansions, and thrown up 30 story condominiums – obviously, Edmonds cannot sustain that – but zero lot line developments, townhomes, quads, and six unit buildings, and even multi-use developments do create more affordable housing as an entry point for young professionals in the community, older professionals done with lawn care and home maintenance, and bring some ability to make the community more diverse. I sold two homes in Florida to be in Edmonds – once you get sucked in, the appeal and benefits continue to keep you here.

      Like I mentioned in an earlier reply – it is about the economy. The Edmonds segment of the greater housing economy is extremely strong – and getting a fixer upper for $500K isn’t my idea of opening the market and reducing barriers to entry. In order to sustain, build, and have businesses locate in Edmonds and strengthen the tax base – there has to be housing –

      The difficulty our elected officials and staff have is promoting that environment and mitigating the negative impacts to our community. Or, they can just raise taxes on all of us, commensurate with the increase in inflation and wage rates for City employees, and contracted services, and let us keep things just the way they are…

      • George:

        ” Or, they can just raise taxes on all of us, commensurate with the increase in inflation and wage rates for City employees, and contracted services, and let us keep things just the way they are…” The voters would have to authorize doing that. Elected officials cannot raise property taxes more than 1%.

        • I agree Ron – my point being that they can, and probably in some cases, should raise the taxes to the extent that they have to, meet the shortfall for critical budgetary operating items that keep Edmonds vibrant – my preference is to build a higher tax base – and grow the community – but do it intelligently – it is possible, but doing nothing to be proactive about vibrant businesses, communities, infrastructure, leads to decay – and cutting back of government services – to me, it seems counter intuitive to preserving Edmonds, and promoting Edmonds.

          I am on the sidelines as far as Edmonds politics go – there are things that frustrate me, and I speak up – but not everything frustrates me. Painting the picture that the Edmonds council and city government intentionally create an environment that segregates is untrue, unfair, and a wholly biased opinion – that ignores the reality of the market and the forces that shape the community. The reason housing is vibrant in Edmonds is that the City has invested and protected the investment for all of its members, and is challenged to find ways to open that market up to a more diverse group. The market has priced out not only minorities, but many others who cannot afford to live in as an affluent a community as Edmonds. Edmonds is roughly 79% White, 9% Asian, 5% Hispanic, and 3% African American. The nation, as a whole is roughly 64% White, 12% African American, 16% Hispanic, and 5% Asian. I don’t make the numbers – it is the way the community has shaped itself. Perhaps those numbers reflect a bigger issue on income inequality and opportunity – and not Edmonds alone.

          So how does the City government promote diversity? Like I mentioned earlier – Homeowners are not going to lower their housing prices to accommodate diversity, the market does not promote that. Governments have limited ability to provide assistance in housing prices in affluent communities to remove financial barriers to entry. I posed the argument that multi-family or mixed use mid-rise residential in the RIGHT areas could create entry points for a more diverse group of individuals within our community – reducing those barriers to entry brings more income, more business, more diversity – and adds to our vibrant community. If I knew the answer to the problem, I certainly would run for council – but I know the answer isn’t calling Edmonds residents and council a bunch of racists who intentionally skirt the laws to keep folks out.

          I am by no means a fiscal expert in government policy – I do have a checkbook though, and if you don’t have money coming in, you either borrow, stop spending, ask for assistance, or find a way to get more money. I think Edmonds promotes all of those approaches – they cut the budget, they seek funding from grants, and they look for ways for an increase to the tax base – all while preserving and protecting the future of our City – and for the homeowners who really receive the cash benefit of investments in the community at sale – not to mention the ongoing benefit of living in a wonderful City!

          I still think that an arbitrary 1% tax increase would be counterproductive to growing a community – but it may be a minimal cost to keep everything just the way it is…preservation has a price – and if those who want to keep things exactly the way they are just the way they are – then let’s do it!

  7. Edmonds is not unique regarding structured segregation. Had this not been going on across the United States for the past 40 years (interesting in itself since it has been the biggest boon for real estate and building and development since after World War II….the past 40+ years) the Supreme Court would not of had to REAFFIRM the 1968 Fair Housing Act………This time adding to it that one does not have to prove it is intentional………segregation

    When whole municipalities segregate populations, the whole community suffers. When our Mayor refers to the “other” Edmonds, our whole community suffers and quite frankly it is embarassing and shocking to me. When high profile community members make comments regarding subsidized/low income housing and actually refer to it as the “projects” and something along the lines of they don’t want it in their front yard, this is segregation rhetoric according to the 1968 Fair Housing Act

    We have to go quite far to find some real diversity here…….not the branded rhetoric kind which we witnessed after the hate crime that occured here….

    This issue in Edmonds is not about a wealthy community that cannot afford to have fair housing for ALL and a vibrant diverse community…….our elected officials and staff have no problem getting those grants they need …..Now they have to follow Federal law and cannot segregate communities……..

    Our government and staff need to keep this in mind while studying ideas of development on 99 and particularily getting Federal grants for subsidized/low income housing which can no longer be used to segregate……99 being the perfect example of segregated low income housing all the way into Seattle

    I remember some of this same rhetoric only too well from the 1960s. Interesting the response to reporting the Supreme Courts reaffirmation of the Fair Housing Act…..I just have to say, Wow! This speaks volumes.

    Edmonds needs new leadership and a change of its ways.

  8. The Feds and the FBI put out notifications EVERY day now of violators of Federal Law and I can guarantee they are not missing much……May take time but they are definately going after all of the violators…..those that think they can skirt our laws.

    We are a country of laws that keep us civilised.

    • Your points are circular. I believe strongly that our council members, even the ones I disagree with, are focused on a safe, diverse, vibrant community for all Edmonds residents. There is a spirit in your comments to state the obvious. Your comments imply that they are racist.

      You are right that Edmonds needs new leaders, and Council is the best place to start, so we do agree. Neil Tibbot is well suited to bring that new leadership you seek.

      So how about promoting solutions or proposing solutions? What do you recommend? What are you willing to sacrifice to keep from contributing unintentionally to segregation. Remember, you are a part of this community, and are complicit in what you call forced segregation.

      You offer no solutions, but you wag a finger quite a bit. It is reminiscent of the council members you support.

      Instead of sitting through multiple council meetings, painting protest signs for the tempest of the week, or dropping pure applesauce for fact, how about providing your ideas as solutions and not casting the vast population into your self defined delusions of racism, collusion, and conspiracy. I am offended by the insinuation, but still find it ridiculously entertaining.

      My grandfather always said if I wanted something to complain about, buy shoes that are two sizes too small. If I wanted to do something useful, pick up a pair of leather gloves and get ready for work.

      I am willing to loan you some gloves if you’re willing to change your shoes.

  9. Again, it is a simple fact that the Fair Housing Act has been law since 1968 and a fact that many municipalaties in our country have in the past forty years seemed to have forgotten about this historic law and making sure it is enforced. We can assume a whole lot about those arguing against regarding this new affirmation of this 40 year old law, but one thing we know for sure, we know that our Supreme Court does not rule lightly or frivilously.

    Segregation is segregation and the law of the land does not allow descrimation or segregation

    I believe with the new affirmation of this law our “International District” may even be out of sinc with the law concidering it now does not even matter whether intentional or not to segregate.

    Simple action is to stop descrimination and not allowing subsidised/ low income housing only in certain areas and putting certain people of our population off in higher crime (referenced as “ghetto”areas from our past history) I dont really know any people that would prefer to live off of major highways with mega car sales lots, casinos, smoke shops, high crime, human trafficking, drug dealing,etc, etc., etc. 99 is 99.

    I’m proud to have carried that protest sign, Mr. Bennett and I have carried MANY in my life and will continue to do so for many rights and wrongs but particularly when a family with children are threatened with DEATH just because of the color of their skin and walking on one of our streets. Yes, racism is alive and well and this important law has been reaffirmed exactly because of that.

    Hopefully our Diversity Commission will educate those that still do not get it. As Michael Jackson and many other musicians celebrated diversity and sang about this for our whole world many, many years ago, We Are The World……And yes, I wear soft glove because I still get teary- eyed remembering that call to all that we are all one and the same, EQUAL

    We Are The World

    We need new leadership and everything starts at the top.

  10. The historian, James Truslow Adams , in 1931 coined the term, “the American dream”

    ” a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstnces of birth or positions”

    That is the ” American Dream ” that has been a beacon for millions of peoples all over the world. …..Equality…….regardless of circumstances of birth or positions. …….not just for some……that “select few” Im always talking about……

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