Edmonds City Council gets to work on budget amendments

Edmonds City Councilmembers rolled up their collective sleeves Tuesday night and began suggesting amendments to Mayor Mike Cooper’s proposed 2011 City of Edmonds budget.

All suggested amendments, which were submitted in writing to City Council President Steve Bernheim, will be posted on the City’s website so the public has a chance to review them. The council will hold a public hearing on the budget next Tuesday, Dec. 7.

A couple of ideas councilmember put on the table focused on reducing costs related to the city’s arrest and processing of criminal suspects.  Councilmember Diane Buckshnis suggested cutting by $100,000 the amount of money the police department currently spends on “prisoner care” – essentially the care and feeding of those booked into jail.

And Bernheim said he’d like to see police reduce the number of “discretionary bookings” so that fewer non-violent criminals end up in jail in the first place.

At the request of Councilmember Michael Plunkett,  Police Chief Al Compaan came to the microphone to clarify whether either of those ideas were feasible or would result in a cost saving to the department.

Compaan said that he believes that some money could be trimmed from the prisoner care budget “without compromising public safety,” although probably not $100,000. And he noted that Bernheim’s suggestion “tends to imply that the department has not been employing discretion already.” The department doesn’t routinely book people for crimes such as marijuana possession or driving with license suspended, but instead has them agree in writing to appear in court, he noted, and  “if there’s a bench warrant, they go to jail.” Most of the people who spend time in jail are there as a result of Edmonds Municipal Court action, not police, Compaan said.

In other action, the Council:

-Heard an update from Sustainable Works, which is providing reduced cost or free energy audits for residents in the cities of Edmonds and Lynnwood, followed by retrofit to make homes more energy efficient. So far, 189 people have signed up for audits, with 109 of those in Edmonds. The program runs through the end of January, so those who are interested should sign up soon before more cold weather hits. You can learn more at a Sustainable Works open house Dec. 15 at 941 36th Ave. W. in Lynnwood, or sign up by visiting www.sutainableworks.com or calling 206-575-2252.

-Received testimony from several members of the city’s Economic Development Commission, requesting that the council find enough money to fund the development of a strategic plan for Edmonds. Commission member Marianne Zagorski, also a Port of Edmonds Commissioner, told the Council that such a plan “would use scientific methods to get at what are the next priorities for the city,” and now is the time to do it since construction costs are low. Ron Clyborne, president of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber support “prudent and fiscally responsible funding of such a  plan. And Bruce Wittenberg, also a commission member, cited the City’s drawn-out debate about whether to purchase the Skipper’s property earlier this year “may have had a different outcome if the city had a strategic plan.”

Council notes:

-Mayor Cooper noted that the council met tonight with two finalists for the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Service Director job recently vacated by the retiring Brian MacIntosh. The Mayor hopes to make a final hiring decision and have the new person on board in first part of January

-The Council discussed proposals by Councilmember Lora Petso to pay off bonds used to build Edmond’ City Hall and remodel the Frances Anderson Center, but decided to defer a decision until after receiving some guidance from bond counsel.

  1. Diane – I looked and didn’t see them either. Council asked staff to put them online, and they said they would. Maybe tomorrow?

  2. Diane
    If you do not want to wait for them to be put online I expect that you could get them at City Hall since hard copies were made available to citizens at the council meeting. In the meantime if you have a specific question about them, post it here as I have the handout.

  3. Ron and Teresa,
    Thanks for the info. I will wait and see if it is posted tomorrow. If not I’ll drop by City Hall. Thanks again.

  4. Good Summary and actually for the Strategic Plan, I meant and/or for the idea of using the 411 professional services such as what Strom suggested and perhaps curtailing prisioner care. Because this budget is not as comprehensive with summary data which has been requested, we have had to look at the largest expenditure area to suggest reductions (which is the police) and for that reason, I asked in October, (like Mr. Walmbolt) did to get some real data of actual numbers and summaries that are meaningful.

  5. The budget amendments and the responses from the city administration are linked on the front page of the city web site. There is also a letter from the Mayor in the council packets which can also be viewed on the web site

  6. Mike

    I commend you and your staff for providing very thoughtful, and very timely, responses to the numerous proposed budget amendments.

    My first review of the responses leads me to be in agreement with all of them, except for two. SB4 – I believe that $35K to $40K is much too much to spend on completing the small park at Old Mill Town. When a citizen, Alan MacFarlane, suggested buying the OMT strip of land for a park, and I led the effort to cause it to be purchased, we envisioned only a simple park area like what existed there prior to its destruction during the rebuilding of OMT. That did not require bringing any utilities to the site. So let’s get on with the original idea.

    SB8 – You have provided a bureaucratic response to this amendment by stating the regulations that give you the responsibility to determine the structure of city staff. Everybody knows the regs; Mr. Bernheim, me, and others are asking you to remove the responsibility for IT from the Finance Director in order to reduce Mr. Hines’ workload. I believe that you owe us an explanation as to why you do not want to address this issue.

  7. “we envisioned only a simple park area like what existed there prior to its destruction during the rebuilding of OMT. That did not require bringing any utilities to the site. So let’s get on with the original idea.” Ron W.
    That is exactly what I and the city have been trying to do. I can see that you are no gardener, Ron! There was a gazebo, water and also power for lighting and powering the fountain in the original design. The electric panel was on the former owner’s property, so in order to bring the garden back to the way it was, the city had to expend money to bring in its own power. The lighting (for safety) and the old watering system have been destroyed and need to be replaced. The fountain will be kept, it is on the original design. I secured an architect for the plan of the two gazebo like structures allowed on the site and a landscape architect for the plan for the garden. Both worked for the city pro-bono. Rich Lindsay and I have been working on this since the day the land was purchased and after all these years are anxious to get going with this project. The Edmonds Floretum Garden Club under my tenure as president pledged to buy the planting materials, plant them and do its upkeep. I have also found someone to buy us a tree and to buy a new handicapped accessible fountain. Several of our members have made large donations to help the city. I have spent hours applying for diverse grants. Why are you so verbose and negative against this project? Please ask me or Rich Lindsay for the facts since you do not understand all that goes into the revitalisation of this garden before you constantly trash the project. This is going to be a wonderful place again for everyone, citizens and visitors alike to sit and relax. it will also help bring businesses in that part of 5th Avenue. Many people are going to volunteer to actually build the structures and do the planting and many hours of work in planning have already been spent all at no costs to the city. Please get informed before being so negative against getting this garden again as you said:”the way it was”.

  8. Undoubtedly Ms. Larman and the Floretum Garden Club have been doing a lot of good work to get this mini-strip park completed. And it was their commitment to the project that helped convince city council to approve the purchase of the land in 2008. What I oppose is sticking with a plan that has taken much too long to implement and is costing the city $40,000+ at a time when there are higher priorities for that amount of money. City Council must now defend this expenditure, because last night they approved it as an amendment to the Mayor’s 2011proposed budget.

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