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Nelson said he believes that replacing the city’s outdated phone system “is something that can wait due to other priorities.”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.
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:
– 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.
– 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