Edmonds City Council OKs bond refinancing, delays home business rules

The Edmonds City Council Tuesday night voted to approve an ordinance authorizing the refinancing of city bonds that will save Edmonds approximately $46,634 annually in debt service savings and $288,969 over the remaining life of the bonds, according to current estimates.

The following bonds will be refinanced under the ordinance:

– 1998 Water and Sewer Revenue Bonds
– 1998 Limited Tax General Obligation Bonds
– 2001 Limited Tax General Obligation Bonds
– 2001B Limited Tax General Obligation Bonds.

The vote was 6-0 (Councilmember Michael Plunkett arrived after the vote was taken) but some councilmembers expressed concern that because interest rates are going up, it may not make sense to refinance after all. Bond counsel representatives present at the meeting assured the council that they could choose to hold off on refinancing at any time.

The vote came one week after the council voted 5-2 to reverse an earlier decision to pay off the bonds altogether using the city’s $1.3 million Public Safety Reserve Fund.

The Council on Tuesday night also voted 5-2 to to reconsider another issue: a proposal to make changes to an ordinance governing home-based businesses. Councilmembers on Jan. 4 had approved the ordinance, but on Jan. 18 they voted to reconsider it after Councilmember Diane Buckshnis said she had received emails and phone calls from citizens who were unhappy about the changes.

Councilmember D.J.  Wilson and Council President Strom Peterson said they were concerned that there was misinformation being spread about the actual impact of the measure. “The comments we are getting are not reflective of what this ordinance will do,” Wilson said. “We are not talking about turning every neighborhood into a strip mall.”

The proposal would allow a home-based business to have one employee (currently none are allowed); to have one visit by a vehicle per hour between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. (now, no customers are permitted to the visit the site) and require them to prove that they can provide sufficient parking for three vehicles to accommodate those customers or employees.

In addition, under the proposal those home-based businesses that require a conditional use permit would be able to make that request of city staff at a cost of $585, rather than the current process of going before a hearing examiner, which requires a $1,500 fee.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the original ordinance as amended by the council Jan. 4 was back on the table, and the council voted 4-3 to reject it. Instead, they decided to send the measure back to the Community/Development Services Committee for further discussion.

Perhaps the most surprising development of the evening was the lack of citizen comment during the council’s public comment period, which was expected to draw a crowd to testify about the two finalists for the contract to provide City of Edmonds attorney services: current City Attorney Scott Snyder of Ogden Murphy Wallace, and the Lighthouse Law Group.

At last week’s meeting, the council narrowed the list of possible city attorney candidates from four to two, and it is scheduled to make a final decision on Feb. 22. You can review the application of Lighthouse Law Group here and Ogden Murphy Wallace here.

The council also:

– Accepted an award from the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR program in recognition of the energy-efficient operation of City Hall.

– Confirmed Mayor Mike Cooper’s appointment of Olbrechts & Associates PLLC as the City’s Hearing Examiner and approval of the proposed professional services contract.

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