More police, pet license fee increase included in proposed 2014 Edmonds police budget

Long-time City Clerk Sandy Chase is recognized during her last council meeting Tuesday night.
Long-time City Clerk Sandy Chase is recognized during her last council meeting Tuesday night.

Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan presented his proposed 2014 budget to the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night, and among the requests was an increase in annual pet licensing fees — from $5 to $15 annually for an altered animal and from $10 to $40 for an unaltered one. Part of the money raised through the fee increase would fund the hiring of an outside vendor to actually issue the licenses, freeing up police staff for more important work, Compaan said. Even with the consultant, the department would still see $10,000 annually in new revenue, he noted.

Under the suggested increase, the discounted senior rate for pet licenses would go from $3 to $5. Animal license fees haven’t been raised since 1987.

The police budget also proposes the hiring of a second assistant police chief to fill a position left vacant in mid-2012, during lean budgetary times, as well as an entry-level officer, bringing the total number of commissioned officers to 53. When the assistant chief job wasn’t filled, the department chose to put officers on the street instead, “but at the same time the logistics in terms of running the department on a day-to-day basis have become more challenging,” Compaan said, prompting the request to fill the post. And the new officer would allow the department to restart its street crimes unit — suspended due to budget cuts — in 2015.

The chief also is requesting that the city contribute toward a replacement fund for the department’s mobile and portable radios, which will be part of a county-wide radio system upgrade expected in 2020. This has been done in past years but was suspended in 2012 due to budget challenges.

The city council also heard from Public Works Director Phil Williams, who outlined his request for additional budget, including $1.2 million for a “street preservation program” aimed at making long-needed roadway improvements. In addition, Williams outlined the need for an additional staff engineer that would be paid for with capital dollars, to assist with a growing number of construction projects that the council has approved for the next several years.

Williams also made his case once again for the council to support a proposed 3 percent annual sewer rate increase, from an average of 80.74 currently to 103.15 in 2016. The increase would pay for repairs to — and maintenance of — the city’s aging sewer mains and pipes, as well as updates and repairs to the wastewater treatment plant — without issuing bonds to pay for the work, which has been past practice.

In other actions, the council:

– heard a proclamation from Mayor Dave Earling in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Edmonds/Hekinan Sister City Relationship. The entire Hekinan delegation, which is visiting Edmonds this week, filled the council chambers to hear the announcement.

– recognized City Clerk Sandy Chase, who is retiring Oct. 31 after 20 years with the city.

– received a status report from Michelle Ginder, Sound Transit Project Lead, regarding the agency’s process for developing a long range plan update for transit alternatives that will follow the 2023 completion of light rail to Lynnwood. The agency is beginning the Environmental Impact Statement scoping process, with a comment period through Nov. 25. A public meeting will be held Nov. 19 in Everett, at Eisenhower Middle School, from 5:30-8 p.m. but comments via an online survey, email and mail are also encouraged. To learn more, visit Soundtransit.org/longrangeplan.

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