Councilmembers propose changes, additions to 2018 City of Edmonds budget

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Edmonds City Councilmember Mike Nelson

After weeks spent listening to city department directors make their case for various projects and, in some cases, staffing as part of the 2018 draft city budget, Edmonds City councilmembers had a chance to offer their own ideas Tuesday night

The most sweeping set of proposals came from Councilmember Mike Nelson, who suggested deleting five items from Mayor Dave Earling’s budget and using that money instead for several other initiatives that he believes should take higher priority. Among them, hiring a second K-9 police officer to reflect community concerns about public safety and a climate/renewable energy consultant to both measure the city’s effectiveness in that area and assist Edmonds in reaching renewable energy goals. Nelson also proposed establishing regional funds of $250,000 each to address homelessness and opioid addiction.

“Every time our cold weather shelter is open, it’s full,” Nelson said. “There are people living on our streets, in cars and in parking lots and the task force that we have, that is not funded, won’t solve anything.” The goal is to provide seed money for a regional effort regarding homelessness that other cities will also contribute to, he added. The same is true for the opioid crisis that has impacted not only the region but Edmonds, Nelson said, adding he personally witnessed someone overdosing on heroin while riding along with Edmonds police last year. “I believe we need to acknowledge the real threat we are facing not just regionally but in our city,” he said.

Specific items Nelson recommended for deletion include two new proposed Public Works Department positions — a capital projects manager and an assistant engineer — along with removal of money designated for a federal lobbyist and a city phone system upgrade.

Nelson said he believes that replacing the city’s outdated phone system “is something that can wait due to other priorities.” He suggested deleting the capital projects positions — two of the four new staff positions proposed in the mayor’s budget — because the city has seen a recent decrease in revenues. “I think we should have a wait-and-see approach before diving in and increasing permanent staff,” he said. Nelson also suggested removing $72,000 designated for a federal lobbyist because the current Washington, D.C. political climate doesn’t look promising for funding “in the foreseeable future.” He also suggested removing $40,000 planned to remodel conference rooms.

Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas

Following up on Nelson’s proposal, Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas suggested an amendment to use $83,800 from the council contingency fund to assist the Snohomish County Health District with its just-announced efforts to address the opioid crisis.

Other suggested budget additions from councilmembers included:

Edmonds City Councilmember Dave Teitzel

– From Councilmember Dave Teitzel, a proposal to partner with the Port of Edmonds to build a new crosswalk at the busy intersection of Dayton Street and Admiral Way. The city would contribute $70,550 while the Port would add $40,000. Teitzel also proposed $15,000 for the purchase of additional radar feedback signs to encourage traffic calming.

Edmonds City Councilmember Neil Tibbott

– From Councilmember Neil Tibbott, a suggestion to create an in-house walkway construction crew — at a cost of $300,000 — that could address a variety of upcoming projects more affordably than hiring outside companies to do the work. “If we’re able to construct these in-house, we’re going to get a lot more done for the same price, Tibbott said.

The council will further discuss the proposed 2018 budget at its next meeting. You can review the entire budget draft here.

The council also took action on the following items at its Tuesday meeting:

– Unanimously approved the city’s 2018 Legislative Agenda, which includes the following priorities: funding for Edmonds Street Waterfront Connector; funding to support services that address homelessness and affordable housing; funding for Civic Park development; and enacting the two-year Capital Budget, pending in the Legislature, that would provide money for several key local projects.

– Approved by a 7-0 vote an ordinance approving consolidation of 9-1-1 emergency call centers SNOCOM and SNOPAC.

– Voted 6-1, Councilmember Dave Teitzel opposed, to select Windward Environmental to conduct a baseline study of the Edmonds Marsh. Teitzel said he preferred the other consultant finalist, the Watershed Group, but later in the meeting said he believed that Windward would also do a good job.

– By a 4-3 vote (Councilmembers Fraley-Monillas, Nelson and Diane Buckshnis opposed), approved a 1 percent property tax increase.

– Unanimously approved an additional $15,000 from the 2017 council contingency fund to cover water quality testing costs for Edmonds-Woodway High School’s Students Saving Salmon Club.

The council also held public hearings on both the 2018 budget and the 2018-2023 Capital Facilities Plan/Capital Improvement Program, but no one showed up to offer comments.

Finally, the council heard the annual report from the Edmonds Public Facilities District/Edmonds Center for the Arts.

— By Teresa Wippel

 

8 COMMENTS

  1. I have not been able to review the city’s budget the past couple of years as I have previously. I have taken a look at the proposed budget for 2018, particularly the expenses. The budget package includes a summary of General Fund Expenditures by Department for the period of 2014 thru 2018. It is interesting, and disturbing, to note that expenses for city council are growing by 87.2% since 2014 while expenses for the remainder of the city are only growing by 8.5% since 2014.

  2. CM Nelson, thank you for always doing the right thing for our city. When others want to use our money in silly ways, you always attempt to straighten them out.

  3. Thank you to MEN for the eloquent summarization of the council wish list, sorted by council member.

    I would like to ask a few questions that the council members should already have answers for, when they are proposing spending our money.

    CM Nelson-> “hiring a second K-9 police officer to reflect community concerns about public safety” * Please think about this public safety issue at a level or two above your proposal> Nobody is going to vote against another K9 officer. This was a safe play on your part, congrats! How about we see investment of our tax dollars toward what the EPD deems required for them to address our public safety needs? No offense, but I believe the EPD could use a long list of additional resources (Human, K9, Electronic) in the name of your public safety label. A finger in the dike doesn’t stop the flood.
    * “a climate/renewable energy consultant to both measure the city’s effectiveness in that area and assist Edmonds in reaching renewable energy goals.”. (This could be mis-wording of the story)
    -> You cannot be serious – A consultant to measure the city’s effectiveness regarding renewable energy goals? When the Mayor/s, council/s that committed to these goals had no plan to measure success from the beginning? (Could this possibly be evidence of virtuous governing by our leaders, with no plan behind it?) Are you once again asking the tax payers to pay twice for the mistakes of our current and past city leadership?
    -> I truly like your idea of contributing to a fund to address the opioid epidemic. Like so may issues, we need to think out side of our city. This is an issue that needs to be addressed fundamentally and not best served by individual jurisdictions formulating plans. Pooling monies to build detox facilities, provide roads to recovery and oh by the way provide recovering addicts skills/jobs to build the next recovery house or affordable housing, benefits all citizens of WA.
    -> Tell the truth regarding eliminating mayoral proposed positions. We’re not eliminating the spending of two positions (Human jobs) and/or reducing spending. Your truly just proposing a shift in spending, but no change in budget?
    -> I agree with you regarding paying $72,000 for a designated federal lobbyist is not worthy of our money. But, not for the reasons you do sir. Political climate and lobbyists are cancer to our country. The citizens of a city should never be dedicating tax dollars to some lobbying firm without being fully informed of what is being lobbied for in the first place. Let alone, if a private citizen wants to lobby their elected officials for legislation in their favor, God bless them. Where are the records of monies paid to lobbyists, current/past and what direct benefits the city of has received?
    -> Who cares about your conference rooms, but you and other city administrators? Again, lack of poor planning and vision doesn’t mean we all want to pay yet again. Get creative, offer Boy/Girl Scout projects, church/AA service projects, pick up a bucket and paint the walls yourself. (Like many of us have when we didn’t like It)
    -> Don’t upgrade the phone system? Sure, let the most vital communication system the city has, lapse into end-of-life. Oh buy the way, part of the reason your conference room’s suck is because your conference phones are end-of-life.

    CM Fraley-Monillas -> I would ask you to take the lead on this issue, as you are a member of a larger organization, with much more access to resources and knowledge. As I believe you do or did serve on the Snohomish County Health District board. We need to be a part of a larger effort and not try and lone wolf our way through this epidemic.

    CM Teitzel -> Please pump the brakes on your proposal. This feeds back to the larger issue I mention above. Public Safety and whom should be communicating financial needs.

    CM Tibbott -> Please produce a business case of your proposal. It is hard for me to believe $300K to fix our 8000 non-ADA compliant curbs. We were told a couple of weeks ago, this was about an $11M project by city employees.

  4. Ed, I’m with you all the way (above). Especially the, ” “a climate/renewable energy consultant to both measure the city’s effectiveness in that area and assist Edmonds in reaching renewable energy goals.”. Gads..
    I’m puzzled by what to do with addicts..Very hard solution since they “addicts” most do not want to get off the drug. Look at Vancouver BC. They have tried many many different things and most failed. They really have a terrible problem too and have been fighting it for years.

  5. Joy, Addiction is a disease, not a choice and in half of the cases the predisposition to addiction is hereditary, just like cancer… and no one chooses to have cancer. Like many diseases (diabetes, cancer, heart disease) addiction is influenced by behavior, environment and genetics. And just like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, we are still learning how to prevent and treat the disease of addiction.

    Thank you CM Nelson and Fraley-Monillas for recognizing the importance of of treating the disease of addiction and for making it a priority for Edmonds to participate in the work to find a solution to the growing opioid crisis.

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