Edmonds Center for Arts asks city for $100K to help make bond payment

The Edmonds Center for the Arts, buffeted by the same economic headwinds hitting both the public and private sectors nationwide, on Tuesday night asked the City of Edmonds for $100,000 to help to cover a bond payment that is due Dec. 1.

Executive director Joe McIalwain told the Council that expected $200,000 tax revenues from Snohomish County have been reduced to $15,000. The ECA will be able to cover about 80 percent of its bond payment through fundraising and collecting on previous pledges, but needs assistance with the $100,000 balance, he added.

Because the ECA is operated through an inter-jurisdictional agreement between the Edmonds Public Facilities District and the City of Edmonds, the City is required to cover the bond obligations through a loan or similar means. McIalwain told the council that he was hopeful the Council would consider allocating some or all of the funds as a grant rather than a loan. “That will help us get through the short term. A loan will add to the long-term debt,” he said.

In response to economic conditions, the ECA has decreased expenses by 13 percent since 2008 and ended the 2010 fiscal year with a balanced operating budget, McIalwain said. Ticket sales are healthy and the facility brings in between 20-25 shows yearly, ranging from music to theater to dance to comedy, and also provides arts resources for local schools. In addition, the ECA rents out other spaces, including its lobby and gymnasium, for a variety of events.

The Center is committed to finding additional revenue streams — including possibly selling the naming rights to the building —  in an effort to avoid coming to the City for additional money down the road, McIalwain said.

Council President Steve Bernheim recommended that the ECA’s request be referred to the Council Finance Committee for consideration.

In other action, the council:

-Heard from City Economic Development Director Stephen Clifton, who made a brief presentation on a Washington State Ferries proposal that could include relocating the Clinton ferry run from Mukilteo to Edmonds. Clifton showed ferry system “site improvement concepts” that included a dock expansion to include two ferry slips, five toll booths and additional vehicle holding lanes and parking that would eliminate the existing antique mall and Skippers property.

Clifton noted that he and the Mayor Mike Cooper “have significant concerns” about the wide range of impacts that the additional ferry run would have on Edmonds, from significantly increased traffic on SR 104 to view impacts to street closures to environmental effects.

Edmonds residents will have an opportunity to comment on the ferry system’s proposals during a public meeting tonight, Wednesday, from 5-6:30 p.m. in Edmonds City Council Chambers. If you aren’t able to make the meeting, you have until Nov. 19 to submit comments electronically or by mail. More information is on the Washington State Ferries website.

– Spent nearly two hours questioning staff and asking for followup about details included in Mayor Cooper’s proposed 2011 budget. One of the more interesting questions Councilmembers Lora Petso and Adrienne Fraley-Monillas asked of Police Chief Al Compaan was to estimate whether the current $10,000 paid annually by the Town of Woodway to contract for Edmonds Police Department services was adequate to cover the department’s costs.

The council will spend the next few weeks analyzing various budget scenarios, with the goal of voting on a final budget Dec. 7.

– Were split on the idea of hiring a temporary analyst to help the council through the current budget deliberations. Three candidates were interviewed last week, including Harry Gatjens, who sits on the Citizens Levy Committee and also writes budget-related columns for My Edmonds News. Councilmember Michael Plunkett introduced a motion to hire Gatjens, seconded by Diane Buckshnis. However, Councilmembers D.J. Wilson and Strom Peterson both said they thought Gatjens was too close to the issues and couldn’t be objective, and Bernheim said he had always been against the idea of hiring any outside help. Because Fraley-Monillas left the meeting before the vote, the proposal died for lack of a majority. (Petso also voted for the idea.)

  1. Citizens should be sure to watch Joe McIalwain’s excellent presentation on Ch 21/39. It is clear that the ECA is a very well-run organization and a definite valuable asset for our city. The city should give them the $100,000 they are requesting.

    It is a pity that council spent two hours talking about the 2011 budget, mostly talking about relatively insignificant issues with it, and no one showing any concern with the fact that all of the 2011 comparisons are with the 2010 budget rather than with how 2010 is expected to end. Comparing to 2010 budget shows total expenditures dropping by $3,535,627; in reality the expeses are growing by $2,072,271 over where 2010 is now expected to end.

    Additionally, no council member has yet to ask HR to benchmark Edmonds employee compensation concessions with those being made by the employees of other government organizations. HR has benchmarked salaries, but in these difficult times the city needs to face reality and have employees make the concessions that are being made all around us.

  2. Mr. Wambolt. ….just wanted to thank you for your postings. Your insights are always something I read, and more often than not learn from. Thanks again.

  3. Ron great call on the ECA and what they are doing for this community. I met with Joe last week and he really has it dialed in. I think we can create some additional revenue through unique partnerships w that property. I hope the council sees the short and long term benefits of providing the 100,000!

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