Edmonds City Council approves three levies for November election ballot

Updated with details

The Edmonds City Council Tuesday night approved three separate levy propositions for the Nov. 8 general election ballot: $1 million for city services, $1 million for street pavement overlays and $500,000 to fund building maintenance and park improvements.

All three levies would cover the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 and would expire after three years, although there was an effort to amend the city services levy to make it permanent. That amendment failed 3-4 after a lengthy debate, including impassioned remarks by Councilmember DJ Wilson warning that a temporary levy would do nothing to alleviate the city’s dire financial circumstances. In fact, Wilson said, under the current three-year city services proposal “we will have to lay off 8 percent of staff and cut 8 percent of city services.”

The amendment, which was introduced by Council President Strom Peterson, was also supported by Councilmember Lora Petso, who said she did not want to put staff positions at risk with the short-term levy measure. Peterson also said he worried about the likelihood of getting another levy passed in three years if the economy has not yet recovered. “I think that’s a big gamble that’s tough to swallow,” he said.

Of the councilmembers voting against the amendment, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Steve Bernheim said they did not believe in asking taxpayers for a long-term commitment during tough economic times. Addressing Peterson’s point, Fraley-Monillas countered, “I believe it’s a bigger gamble to ask for a permanent increase in our taxes when people are losing their home and losing their jobs and unable to afford their medical insurance.”

After the amendment failed, the council approved the original city services levy proposal by a vote of 4-3, with Wilson, Petso and Councilmember Michael Plunkett voting no. (Plunkett stayed true to his stance of not supporting any increase in the city’s general fund, opposing both the amendment and the levy proposition itself. )

On the other two levy votes — for street overlays and buildings/parks maintenance — Wilson was the sole “no” vote. His argument: Without permanent funding for the city services levy, resulting staff cuts will make it difficult to adequately implement the projects covered in the street pavement and building and parks maintenance measures.

The next step for the council is to form committees of citizens and councilmembers to write “pro” and “con” statements for each levy proposal that will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot. Anyone interested in serving on one of these committees should email Council President Peterson at peterson@ci.edmonds.wa.us.

In other business, the council heard an update from Sound Transit officials regarding the North Corridor transit project planned for Northgate to Lynnwood. Light rail construction is already occurring from Capitol Hill to the University of Washington (opening in 2016) and the next project will be from UW to Northgate (opening in 2021). Sound Transit last October began a public involvement process, including public meetings, to receive public input on both bus and light rail options for the Northgate-to-Lynnwood route, and two light rail alternatives rose to the top, said Sound Transit’s Matt Sheldon. One option runs entirely along I-5 from Northgate to Lynnwood, while the other follows Aurora Avenue/Highway 99 from 11oth Street in North Seattle to the King/Snohomish County line, at which point it heads east to the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center and runs along I-5 to Lynnwood.

The I-5 corridor option is cheaper, faster and likely to carry more riders than the Highway 99 option, which edged I-5 in only one category: its potential positive impact on economic development for businesses along the rail line. However, Wilson noted that the Highway 99 route is likely to be preferred by Edmonds residents as it is more convenient for local commuters.

The next step is to share the results with the community in September, then decide by November which option or options to move forward to the Environmental Impact Statement phase.

You can see the Sound Transit report that was presented at the Council meeting here.

During the question-and-answer session with councilmembers following the presentation, the question was raised about complaints from citizens about the shortage of parking at Sound Transit’s newly opened Edmonds Sounder commuter rail station. Sound Transit’s Patrice Harding said that the agency is doing what it can to open up more parking spaces at the station and is also pursuing the possibility of securing additional parking off site.

In addition, the council listened to a presentation by Edmonds residents Carol Schillios and Stacy Gardea about an idea to create two new city commissions,  one addressing diversity issues and one addressing youth.

Schillios, who runs the Fabric of Life store that supports the work of craftspeople in developing nations, talked about the 2010 Census figures, which indicate that Edmonds is becoming more racially diverse. Forming a diversity commission would encourage “a conversation about diversity,” she said.

Gardea added that as a Hispanic woman, she would like to “open the doors for you as the council…to explore what is out there” both in terms of diversity and youth involvement in city government and activities. In addition, Gardea’s daughter Rey, who will be a junior at Edmonds-Woodway High School this fall, spoke to the council about the value of a youth commission. Standing at the podium with Rey was her friend and classmate Taylor Miner.

“We see Edmonds as a diverse community emcompassing multiple age groups, races and lifestyles,” Rey Gardea said. “We see huge poential in the city, both economically and socially, and as the future citizens of Edmonds, we do not want the youth to be feared in Edmonds. We are your future, and we have a huge economic presence in the city that we feel often goes unrecognized.

“We are hoping that this commission opens the doors between the seniors and the youth,” she added. “We envision events that will unite us socially. Beyond that, political education would e a major goal, as we will be voting in less than three year and more educated youth will make for a more successful future.”

Councilmember Wilson, who had introduced the presentation, proposed a resolution offering council support for the concept of exploring creation of the two commissions. The idea was referred to the community services committee for discussion.


  1. I’l be voting for the overlays levy. If it doesn’t pass, it may cost us more later if the subsurface pavement breaks down and has to be replaced. Pay now, or pay more later.

    The general fund levy worries me a bit more. Preserving existing services seems like a worthy goal. If this levy passes, could existing general fund money be used for anything council approves? For example, couldn’t council approve adding crime prevention officers and say they’re using the pre-levy money to do it? Then couldn’t they cut an existing service saying there’s not enough money?

    In other words, does the restriction on the levy to only preserve existing services really prevent the council from doing whatever they want?

    Same question on parks & building maintenance. Could the existing budget allocations for those things be diverted to other purposes if the levy passes?

  2. Council member Buckshnis voted to place the city services (general fund) levy on the ballot. She made no attempt to have the amount of the levy reduced by obtaining concessions from employees along with a few layoffs. Why should voters elect Ms Buckshnis when she has chosen to seek higher property taxes and has made no attempt to cut compensation?

  3. I don’t think that street overlay funds can be redirected because we are currently spending $0. That’s my other reason for voting for that levy.

    One example of severe road deterioration is 96th Ave W between 220th St SW and Walnut St. You can see a spider-web of deep cracks continually through this stretch.

    For the record, Councilmember Buckshnis has two opponents. I’m assuming you are referring to Bob Wilcox. I agree with what you are saying – Mr. Wilcox has pretty much avoided taking a position on anything. His main concern is lack of cohesion within the Council yet he says nothing about what he would do to solve this problem and the only sitting councilmember on his campaign site list of endorsements is the one least likely to create cohesion.

  4. My view is that nobody, including the candidate, can guarantee, if elected, what he’d do in any situation.There’s a chance that he’d do what we prefer. But we do know what the incumbent didn’t do – she totally shied away from making any challenge of expenses. Additionally, Mr. Wilcox has run a business; Ms. Buckshnis knows nothing about operational accounting. Her career focused on critiquing final results.

  5. So Ron W. With your sage views it would be interesting to hear your views of how each of the council members responded to the labor issues and the GF issues. Could you give us you views of how each of the existing council members approached these issues and while you are at it talked about Coopers actions. An then before you complete your discussion give us your predictions of how all the candidates would approach these same issues. It is clear you have thought about it and we would all be interested in your views before the primary election because we have some choices to make.

  6. Ron W,

    I think your view of Councilmember Buckshnis’ knowledge of operational accounting is clearly hyperbole and is primarily based on your personal opinion. But my knowledge of operational accounting is probably pretty close to your hyperbole, so I’m certainly not going to debate you on that point. Thankfully, there’s no need to debate since a councilmember’s job does not require knowledge of operational accounting.

    Mr. Wilcox has an admirable life story, of which he should be proud. I, too am impressed with the success of his business and his many personal endeavors. However, that experience does not sway my vote. Here are a few reasons:

    (1) Strom Peterson, Frank Yamamoto, DJ Wilson and Joan Bloom have also run businesses. We’re pretty much guaranteed that they will occupy 3 of the 7 council positions. The business owner perspective will be well-represented regardless of whether Mr. Wilcox is elected.

    (2) While there are parallels between running a small business and running a city government, there are also important differences. Mr. Wilcox has given us no information that indicates what he thinks about those differences. I don’t want to see Edmonds being run like a construction company.

    (3) As the Owner/CEO of a non-publicly-traded corporation, part of his job is to protect the details in the corporate accounting from the eyes of competitors. Effectively, he is responsible for insuring lack of transparency. He has no experience in making sure that financial details are fully exposed to the public. His opponent is uniquely qualified there amongst all the candidates and sitting councilmembers.

    I’m not going to make up my mind about this election until the last minute, but based on what I know today, Mr. Wilcox is not likely to get my vote.

  7. Joe:

    The value of having business experience isn’t primarily to be able to represent the business owner perspective, it is to have a better ability to understand the day- to-day operations of the city.Here’s a repeat of a posting that I made a few weeks ago.

    “Since Ms. Buckshnis started attending city council meetings in 2009 she has made a number of untrue accusations about the city’s finances. A prime example is her claim in May 2010 that $400,000 was removed from the REET funds. I tried several times, without success, to explain to her that none of the REET funds disappeared, the staff simply lowered the projection for the amount that would be collected in 2009.

    Ms. Buckshnis consistently exhibits her total lack of experience with operational accounting. She has had no experience with budgets or estimates. As an auditor she only saw the numbers when “they were ready for prime time”. They were the final numbers for the accounting period being audited – there were no estimates and in some cases they would have already been reviewed by internal auditors. Ms. Buckshnis is a “final numbers person” – she is very likely a very good auditor. That experience is virtually irrelevant to the financial operations of our city.

    Interim Finance Director Tarte has said that to fully implement the financial ordinance will require 3 additional staff members in the finance department. If Mr. Tarte’s assessment is correct, my opinion is that adding at least $300,000 in expense, at this time, fails any cost/benefit test.

    We need a council member who is experienced at managing operations and creating results, as opposed to simply critiquing results. We need Bob Wilcox.”

    Council members Petso and Buckshnis have recently declared that they have “scrubed” the numbers and we can now have confidence in them. I have always had confidence in the numbers, and nothing has been found to show that my confidence was mis-placed.

    We have state auditors who make certain that the required financial details are fully exposed to the public.I want a city council member with broad abilities, not an internal auditor.

  8. You are correct that Mr. Wilcox’s business owner experience would allow him to both represent business interests and to bring a business understanding into the activities of the council. Either way, those needs will be well-fulfilled by others. Anything Councilmember Buckshnis proposes will get scrutiny by those with business owner experience.

    The state auditor does not assure the delivery of regular, timely citizen-friendly financial information. That’s important to me, and I see Councilmember Buckshnis’ efforts there as valuable enough to merit a position on the council. I don’t think she is trying to replace the efforts of either the auditors or the Finance Director.

    This is the third time you have posted the comment you self-quoted. It doesn’t become more accurate by repetition. It was thoroughly discussed the other two times. Anyone interested can google for those discussions.

    We would be as ill-served by 7 clones of Ms. Buckshnis on the council as we would by 7 clones of anyone else. My point is that a diversity of talents and perspectives will serve us best.

    Lastly, if you’re going to quote Ms. Buckshnis or anyone else, try to do so fairly. Last week she said: I won’t support that amendment, There are too many variables. I think the numbers need to be scrubbed a little more, but we’re doing good.

  9. Adding resources to the Finance Dept is more than just making the report pretty. I spoke with Jim Tarte last week about this and while he can explain it better, the resources would be used to create more timely data, payments, and collections. The cuts to finance dept in the past may have helped contribute to some of our current issues. As a citizen, it is important to create information that is not only timely but is accurate and understandable. When the average citizen can look at the data and at a glance see if how we are doing, that goes a long way to creating trust in govt. For example can anyone identify the reserves we have, what they are called, and how much they each are, and where are they located? Can anyone list or find the names of all the funds we have in the city? Go look at Redmonds web site and then see if you can find the same information for Edmonds.

  10. I just don’t understand how any form of goverment can just keep spending borrowed money and expect people to accept that . the federal goverment did’nt fix anything last week , There still two wars going on and all kinds of hand outs that need to go away. This country is broke and getting broker and if people do not start making some noise,this problem will never get fixed . The people in Washington dc do not get it

  11. To Ron wombolt why don’t you let the people running speak for themselves and let the citizens make there own minds up and vote the way they want too, When you talk about people qualifications I think you might be crossing the lines, you don’t know what people can and can’t do and you really do not know what they have done, you just take something they have said or think they have said and run with it, sorry im not too interested in that

  12. I’ll be voting for roads and parks. Those are items I clearly will support On the general fund I am a bit undecided. I need convincing. I fully support full funding for the cops, yet have reservations about other areas.

    The Council’s dragging anchor, D. J. Wilson, is quite correct that citizens are not likely to support a blank check for all projects. That of course is the exact purpose of splitting financial funds. It gives citizens more control. Thank you Steve Bernheim!

    I recall a couple of years ago, Wilson threatened to close all parks and build fences around them to keep citizens out if a then proposed levy failed. Wierd and crazy!

    Mr Wilson’s presence on the Council therefore increases my appreciation of a divided levy.

  13. Mike Mc:

    Please don’t tell me what I do or don’t know. I attend all council meetings, finance committee meetings, and economic development committee meetings, as well as belonging to several city committees. I know what I don’t know.

  14. ToRon Wombolt if I was interested in an election and frankly Im not but if I was I would be a lot more interested in listening to the people running and what they had to say, not what you had to say about them.

  15. Canada and Australia each have a triple A rating. The Canadian government continues to do the belt tightening that we need to do; today a federal department announced that they were cutting their staff by 11%.

  16. I, too have strong opinions on these issues of the national and international economy. But I’m going to withhold those opinions and ask that everyone else do the same. The national economy is off-topic here. There are plenty of Edmonds issues to discuss.

  17. @RW – I am so over arguing with you and why not use the correct terminology such as the City of Edmonds has created an accounting methodology called “modified working capital approach” and this one number used and created at year end is the one number used for all our amendments reporting and forecasting models.

    I have challenged the City of Edmonds for over two years to provide me with another city that uses this approach as opposed to a “modified accrual standard” which is MUNICIPALITY ACCOUNTING and I have spoken about his approach for years. I have received criticism, personal attacks, BS and rhetoric about this approach, but again, show me another city that utilized this approach. Our city only includes “accounts payables” in this calculation but not “accounts receivables” as well as ECA debt and receivable (which obviously is not current) and so we have a totally distorted non sanctioned approach. Further, our bond rating has gone up this last year and we have more money in our general fund than three years ago (it has grown from $5.1MM to $6.8MM). This non-sanctioned approach needs to stop and that is why my work on this Council is not done. Citizens want to know where the money and if it is spent wisely.

    Further I am tired of arguing about the $400k “adjustment” REET amendment that you approved and occurred before the November 2009 tax collections. Yes, I get it and who made you the expert? I am tired of you throwing me under the bus and have asked you to look at the CAFR to see that the City of Edmonds was “written up” by the SAO for not having sufficient money in the REET to make a bond payment and so we had to dig into our reserves to make that payment. Of course, the excess over the $400K from the amendment went to the General Fund. From what I have been seeing this practice was quite prevalent.

    I am no longer going to argue with you anymore, I believe the citizens will see that I understand what I am talking about and again…municipal accounting is totally different than your “operational accounting” term that you like to use.

    So, please, stop trashing my capabilities as I think you know there are reasons why Ms. Petso beat you in the Primary two years ago. She has taken the time to understand what I have been talking about for the last two years.

    She is now realizing that the actual General Fund Balance has not been used for years and the reporting of our numbers for years has been very illusive I am through defending these facts and once again state that this city MUST move towards GFOA standards which is modified accrual standards in order to get a general fund levy passed.

    By the way, just because I supported putting a Generall Fund Prop on the ballot, does not mean it will pass as I am uncertain we will move towards transparent accounting. It will not cost anymore to put on the ballot, I felt it doesn’t hurt to allow citizens the choice.

    Lastly, yes, we will need another CPA in finance and the first rule of thumb is that if you want to hide things…cut staff in accounting. So, let’s look to other areas that might be bloated. Do we really need a “Duane Bowman” position any longer? Yes, you totally like to complain about the second floor, so maybe we will look at funding another CPA to help Deb Sharp and Jim Tarte. Most importantly, now that we have competent and communicative finance folks that are working to provide us with clear financial reports and hopefully will help bring back a clear and concise budget, I think the administration will be able to make those decisions based on facts as numbers do not lie.

    I won’t go into any background issues of yours or question your capabilites allowing you to be an expert as I know someone who use to work with you at Fluke. I can assure you, I have had a more extensive background in financial planning, FASB, GASB, IAS, GFOA, budgeting and cashflow management than you will ever know. Cheers.

  18. Ms. Buckshnis:

    Do not leave a vague comment like “I know someone who use to work with you at Fluke”.Tell us what you are inferring – be explicit.

  19. I sure hope the stock market doesn’t crash with this aa+ rating. Somehow I get the feeling that the people in Washington dc are more concerned about getting reelected than the well being of the country, There suppost to be working for us, at least Edmonds has some halfway decent looking books money wise

  20. Fears of our national lack of frugality are well founded. The runaway reckless federal spending binge of the past few years must stop. Our local and state govts are fortunately doing a far better job of managing our resources than the feds, thats for sure.

    Time for some changes in the other WA!

  21. Ron B.

    Mr. Tarte has said that it will take 3 more staff members in finance to comply with Ms. Buckshnis’ financial ordinance. Timely and accurate information was being provided prior to the arrival of Mr. Hines. Mr.Tarte is providing timely information despite unreasonable requests from Ms. Buckshnis. Just one example of the unreasonable demand on his time was at the July 26th council meeting, and he’s paid overtime for attending council meetings. At that meeting he was winding up his presentation when Ms. Buckshnis insisted that he show several graphs for a number of cities that illustrated how their tax collections are not keeping up with their growth in expenses. What value is that analysis to Edmonds?

  22. Ron B.

    I am not opposed to implementing ISO 9001, particularly if there’s some other municipality that has pioneered its use. I was at Fluke when we implemented our TQC, Total Quality Commitment, program in pursuit of the Malcom Baldridge award. Documenting all of our procedures was a massive amount of work but, as you’ve said, a very valuable thing to do for many reasons.

  23. Ron B, regarding comment #29.

    Your opinion regarding the quality of my education was a useful demonstration of your willingness to post opinions about things you know absolutely nothing about.

    As to whether I have a clue, I may not have many, but I’m willing to give you one of the few I do have for free: you can probably count on one hand the number of readers here who care what you think about the national economy.

    So go ahead and ramble on. Politeness was my best weapon to stop you and it didn’t work. I concede defeat.

  24. Here is an idea to make this whole discussion get back on point and save space. Ron W, when you want to make another attack on Diane you could just use the letters DBDNKWSID and IAVFW. These letters would mean “Diane Buckshnis Does Not Know What She Is Doing”. The other letters would mean “I Am Voting For Wilcox”. That way you could make the same points and save space.

    Ron B. I have not heard anyone poo pooing your call for ISO 9001 QMS. Could be wrong but I do not recall any push back. But when you want to make those long points again you could just put down the letters AI9Q and we would all know you meant “Adopt ISO 9001 QMS” This is not a poo poo of your statements just a way to create a short hand to save keystrokes.

    Teressa, It may be time to create a place compartmentalize discussion of election issues the impact Edmonds. You could create a place to for candidates, levies, and outside factors that will impact the voters decisions. Creating these special places would prevent the things that happen so often in these pages. You write an good article about say Hydroplanes and someone says “ya, while I was watching the races I was thinking about the cities accounting practices and bla bla bla.” It looks like over 30% of the responses and about 60% of the lines above do not talk about the lead article.

  25. Ron B.,

    Yes, you are correct that Wa state govt is no prime exemplary example of great financial mgmt. I should have said compared to the federal effort our state and county govt look better. Looking at NY and CA, WA does indeed look a tad better. And our state has on occasion reigned itself in during hard times, which is good, while the fed spending binge rages on unchecked, with only phony future “reductuons”, that won’t happen.

    The democrats are all ready whining for higher taxes as THE solution while 90+% of the problem is excess $pending. Medicare will get whacked and Social Security is likely to be targeted. And we will no doubt be charged with other extra taxations to correct the fed’s wastefulness.

    If I were dictator for a day I would instantly abolish the Depts of Energy and Education (and transfer vital portions of Energy to Interior and let the states handle education.) and “furlough” or “deploy” all Obama czars and 10% of all federal govt employees permanently. NASA would be continued. Defense would be spared somewhat, but expected to reduce waste. Medicare expense would be adjusted to individual incomes, and Social Security would have COLs delayed for a few years and full retirement delayed from 65 to 70. All Obama issues regulations and Obamacare would be vaporized.

    I’m sure you and a whole lot of other folks would also have similiar ideas on how to begin not spending money we do not have, just as virtually all of us all ready understand that basic economic fact of life.

    So where are our overpaid and underworkedl elected nartional leaders? Its high time they started doing their jobs.!

  26. Ray You make a lot of sense on this one. Its election season, trying to get there friends elected and vacationing

  27. So if we vote for the levies we may have enough money to buy those Fluke meters. They probably cost more than others on the market but sometimes we just need the best. Is there a Fluke product that helps us see the dangers of streets needing repair? How about a Fluke product to help us with building defered maintanence?

  28. Rob B,

    Regarding streets needing repair, see comment #5 above. I challenge you to draw a straight line anywhere across that road that does not cross a severe unpatched crack in the pavement.

  29. Ron B.:

    As you may know, I am also retired from Tektronix. Coincidentally, both Fluke and Tektronix are now owned by Danaher Corporation, a holding company. The Danaher executive vice-president to whom these and other companies report lives in the southern part of Woodway.


    You’re right; Fluke products have a higher purchase price, but their features and quality make them a better value.

  30. Below is the link to the City’s map that shows the streets rated “poor to severe” While discussing this map with Public Works, I understood that in the final determination of which would be paved first with the new levy dollars will require added analysis among all the steets shown to determine those that are most likely to fail sooner vs later. There are services and techniques that will be used to get a more detailed ranking of the the streets. I have sampled some of the streets on the map and while not being an expert in this area, I see streets that need work. I am will to trust those in charge to select the streets in most need. The good news is that if the money is voted by the people we will actually be able to see how it was spend. My discussion with the city suggests they will be very through in showing which streets are in most need and they will show what is done with each years levy dollars. So a couple of years into the program we will clearly see the progress. Hard to hide the black top. There have been several citizen groups that have been involved with the street overlay and to date I have not heard any of the citizens say this is a project that is ill concieved. I am confortable with the data and analysis I have seen on the subject. As we move toward the election I am sure we will all here more of the real data that may end the speculation of the need for street overlays. On the other side of the issue is that if we do not vote for the funds for street overlays it is quite clear the mayor or council will budget for steet overlays. No overlays except stimulus dollars have been done in Edmonds since 2008.

    Here is the link to the street map.


    Wow every line above actually relate the a levy!!!

  31. Thanks for that link Darrol. I tried to find it, but I couldn’t.

    I think it’s worth noting that the annual need to keep the streets from getting worse is $1.5 million. The levy is for $1 million. If it passes, the overall quality of our streets will still be declining, just not as fast.

    The map also shows that regardless of where you live in Edmonds, a street near you needs or will soon need an overlay.

  32. You are correct Joe on the needed $1.5m to stay even. But since we have done no overlays since 2008 and if we pick the very worse for the first 3 years we will significantly reduce the ongoing risk. In the next 3 years we we can reevaluate with new data the ongoing need. Is that need $1.5 based on the costs we will learn in the next 3 years or will it be less or more. Beyond 3 years it would be ideal if we create a permanent funding for streets. We do that for today for the library, EMS and other services. Providing a permant funding would prevent the mayor and council from raiding the steet dollars if we do it right.

  33. Realize, of course, that all of these permanent sources are incremental property taxes. There are still citizens smarting from the library deal that created an additional taxing authority. The overlay levy need not be permanent because eventually the economy will improve and regular revenues will provide funding.

    There were no street dollars that were raided. Streets competed with limited general fund revenues and other expenditures were deemed to be a higher priority.

  34. Ron W, your description of what happened to the money once budgeted for street maintenance sounds like political doublespeak for a raid. It is a distinction without a difference.

  35. Joe M.:

    You can call it what you like. There was no General Fund money dedicated to streets – therefore nothing to raid. Each year streets competes with all other needs and, rightly or wrongly, came out to be a lower priority. Dedicating funds to specific needs, like streets, would cause an incremental increase in taxes. Perhaps you have an insatiable need to pay more taxes; I do not.

  36. Ron W. For those of us less aware of the city budget, how did we fund street overlays in the past? Did council change any formula for Reet $ that impact the streets? Since we have stopped funding streets in 2008 when and how do you see that changing? How do you feel about the condition of our streets today? Are we running any risk by not funding overlays? While I understand your no new taxes discussion, is their any place for directed taxes for specific things?

  37. Ron B., some good points. Yes I worked on the current levy committee but let me be very clear about what I support. Your last paragraph talked of registered voters and about half of them vote. The best thing that could happen for Edmonds is that more of the registered voters do vote and express their views at the ballot box. Number 2 on my wish list is that more of the voters become informed about the facts and make their voices knows either no or yes. I have but one vote among the 14,000 who will probably vote. Number 1 on my wish list is that we try to get all the facts out and let the people decide. So I support trying to increase the public awareness of issues and letting them decide. Street overlays are more than black top. By making the levy 3 years and limited in scope, we can start, evaluate, and decide the next step in a couple of years. Streets are not a job program for the city. We will contract out the work. We will likely spend so staff time to plan and coordinate but the work will be done by others. I recall Phil Williams presentation to council recently that it may take about $50k to manage the projects but in this case that would mean $950,000 would go to black top. I think the estimate is $12/sq yard so that would mean about 80,000 sq yards of black top. I will be urging the City to provide a list of some of the streets in most need so you and I and anyone else can see for ourselves the condition of streets to be paved. While I find it hard for the City to waste my $59 a year on blacktop by doing unnecessary work I will see for myself and then make my final decision on how I will vote.

    That was far too many words and rather than repeat these points in the future I will try to just say something like “Let’s all get the facts, make our decision and vote. The more the merrier.”

    Now for the discussion of Building and Park Stuff and the General fund.

    “Let’s all get the facts, make our decision and vote. The more the merrier.”

    We have about 3 months before the election and I for one will being doing my homework to find out the facts and sharing what I find with others so they can be more informed. I will try to stick to the facts first and offer informed discussion as free from emotion as possible. I will however be obsessed with the desire to create more informed voters.

    In September the City is launching the Strategic Planning Process which is designed to gather as much input from as many people as possible to help form the direction for Edmonds. This will go a long way to implement my number one goal stated above. “Let’s all get the facts, make our decision and vote. The more the merrier.”

  38. Darrol:

    Good questions. Prior to 2006, I think, street overlays were funded from the General Fund. The council made a change in 2006 to direct revenue in excess of $750,000 from one of the REET funds to be used for overlays. The REET fund reached $1.4M in 2006 and 2007, so $650,000 went for overlays in each of those years. REET has not exceeded $750,000 since 2007. Overlays received some funds, $1M I believe,since then from stimulus funds.

    Some streets need overlays; I’ll be supporting the 3-yr levy for that purpose, but I would not support a permanent levy.

  39. Ron is correct regarding the Capital REET distribution. I believe now that we should be reversing that funding scenario, ie the first $750,000 to Transportation capital. Our Transportation infrastructure is used every day by nearly every citizen. Parks simply are not. Note: This portion of REET cannot be used for park land acquisition, only infrastructure. I feel strongly that in these economic times the essentials should be paid for first. Utilitzing our current funding in the most optimal way should be looked at first prior to asking for more money. After having supported the only option the Elected officials gave us previously, with only one (Diane Buckshnis) giving more than token support, I am a little reluctant to give strong support on this one (I doubt I can even convince my other family members to do so). I also feel that the Economic situation seems even more dismal now than it did last November.

  40. Don F. or Ron W. Do you know how the REET tax process works? If I sell my house does that generate any REET taxes? What percent? If I develop a parcel and add $10m to the tax roles what does that do for REET taxes. It would be interesting to know how transactions like home sales or new development impact tax collections.

  41. Ron B. Do you have any information on what the increases to salaries or benefits were as a part to the new labor agreements? I am trying to find out but maybe you know.

  42. Darrol;

    Yes, REET is collected on each real estate transaction. I don’t recall the actual %, but I am sure you can get that info from the Finance department. Also, there are different portions of REET that have certain restrictions. The portion I referred to for instance has to be used for Capital projects. P.S.: I was disappointed that you did not run for Council. We could certainly use someone like you, who works constantly on gathering and analyzing the facts to address our pressing issues and fights the urge (we all have) to get overly opinionated. I hope you consider running in the future.

  43. The tax amount on each real estate sale is a total of 0.5% – 0.25% for REET 1 and 0.25% for REET 2.

  44. REET 1:

    Edmonds Municipal Code 3.29.010.C. Use of Proceeds. All proceeds from the tax imposed by this section shall be placed by the city treasurer in a capital improvement fund and shall be used for capital improvements, including those listed in RCW 35.43.040. This section shall not limit the existing authority of this city to impose special assessments on property benefited thereby in the manner prescribed by law. [Ord. 2462, 1984].

    REET 2:

    Edmonds Municipal Code 3.29.015.C. Use of Proceeds. Revenues generated from the tax imposed by this section shall be used solely for the financing of projects specified in a capital facilities plan element of a comprehensive plan approved by the city council. [Ord. 3031 § 1, 1995].

  45. Ron, what restricts REET 1 to park acquisition? The code I cited above includes no such restriction – it only restricts the fund to capital improvements.

    The state defines capital projects in RCW 82.46.010 as planning, acquisition, construction, reconstruction, repair, replacement, rehabilitation, or improvement of streets; roads; highways; sidewalks; street and road lighting systems; traffic signals; bridges; domestic water systems; storm and sanitary sewer systems; parks; recreational facilities; law enforcement facilities; fire protection facilities; trails; libraries; administrative and/or judicial facilities; river and/or waterway flood control projects

    I must have overlooked something.

  46. Joe:

    You probably did not overlook anything; I’ve related what the general practice has been in recent years.

  47. It’s making sense now. It appears that the REET funds are constrained mostly by the budget, not be state or local ordinances. Thanks for the clarification.

  48. Joe;

    Well almost

    REET 2 is restricted by State Law. Specifically it cannot be used for Parks Acquisition;

    3. Cities and Counties With a Population of 5,000 or More That Are Planning Under GMA.

    These jurisdictions must spend the first quarter percent of their real estate excise tax receipts solely on capital projects that are listed in the capital facilities plan element of their comprehensive plan. RCW 82.46.010(2)(6). RCW 82.46.010(6) defines “capital projects” as:

    those public works projects of a local government for planning, acquisition, construction, reconstruction, repair, replacement, rehabilitation, or improvement of streets; roads; highways; sidewalks; street and road lighting systems; traffic signals; bridges; domestic water systems; storm and sanitary sewer systems; parks; recreational facilities; law enforcement facilities; fire protection facilities; trails; libraries; administrative and judicial facilities…

    Spending the Second Quarter Percent — REET 2
    This part of the real estate excise tax may only be levied by cities and counties that are required to or choose to plan under the Growth Management Act. All cities and counties that levy this tax face the same provisions, whether their population is greater or less than 5,000.

    For this quarter percent of the real estate excise tax, “capital project” means those:

    public works projects of a local government for planning, acquisition, construction, reconstruction, repair, replacement, rehabilitation, or improvement of streets, roads, highways, sidewalks, street and road lighting systems, traffic signals, bridges, domestic water systems, storm and sanitary sewer systems, and planning, construction, reconstruction, repair, rehabilitation, or improvement of parks. RCW 82.46.035(5).

    Note that acquisition of land for parks is not a permitted use of REET 2 receipts, although it is a permitted use for street, water, and sewer projects.

    Here is a good link for the MRSC info on REET spending


  49. So now that we have the definations of REET 1 and 2, how does Edmonds use the funds and what restrictions do they place on each? where does the rule of greatet then $750k and all that come in. Just trying to understand the money follow and restrictions and learn what REET fund would do street overlays and what are the restriction so we can understand how REET $ can buy black top?

  50. That is just a policy decision that they made by vote. They could vote to change that policy, no huge effort required. Bothell prioritizes projects for REET funding. Almost all of their REET goes to Transportation Capital, which is true of every jurisdiction I researched over the years.

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