Council agrees to early allocation of sales taxes to offset Edmonds Center for Arts cancellations

The council and staff meet via Zoom Tuesday night. At the upper right is new Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Angie Feser.

The Edmonds City Council agreed Tuesday night to authorize an early distribution of Snohomish County sales tax dollars to offset revenue losses suffered by the Edmonds Center for the Arts due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

As is now standard procedure under stay-at-home orders from Gov. Jay Inslee, the council met remotely via Zoom.

The early allocation of sales tax to the Edmonds PFD, which operates the ECA, was included in an amended interlocal agreement between the city and Snohomish County. The ECA began canceling events following Inslee’s initial March 11 order banning gatherings of 250 or more. Those orders have since become stay-at-home restrictions, lasting until May 4.

In a presentation to the council Tuesday night, Finance Director Scott James explained that the Edmonds PFD collects sales tax revenue from three sources:

  • A direct allocation of state sales tax — set at 0.0333% of taxable sales in the city. This comes out of the state share of taxes collected in Edmonds. Use of these funds is unrestricted.
  • A Tier 1 sales tax allocation from Snohomish County, which the county distributes to the four public facilities districts operating in Snohomish County — the Future of Flight, the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, the Edmonds Center for the Arts and the Lynnwood Convention Center. This is a set amount for each PFD, and was determined at the time each of them was formed. In the case of the Edmonds PFD, formed in 2001, the amount is $324,871. Use of these funds is also unrestricted.
  • A Tier 2 sales tax allocation, also from Snohomish County and also distributed to the county’s PFDs. However, this distribution comes from excess county collections so is determined on an annual basis. The 2020 Tier 2 allocation for ECA is $237,882. Use of these funds is restricted for debt service payments only.

The county and its four public facilities districts have agreed to move up the timeline for the Tier 2 allocation payment timelines, so the PFDs can access those funds sooner. Under the amendment, the currently scheduled May 1 payment will now occur seven days after the amendment is ratified by the city and the county. The currently scheduled Nov. 1 payment would be moved up to July 1.

“I think it’s a very smart thing given the environment we are in,” City Councilmember Diane Buckshnis said in stating her support for the measure. “The money has already been collected. It’s in a trust. Let get it to them earlier.”

“The ECA has taken a pretty heavy hit with what’s been going on with no shows there,” added Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, noting the facility has had to lay off several part-time staff.

In another Edmonds Public Facilities District matter, the council on Tuesday night interviewed Edmonds resident Bill Willcock and approved his appointment to fill a vacancy on the PFD board.

In other action, the council agreed to numerous first quarter budget amendments as presented by Finance Director James, with two exceptions:

  • The council unanimously voted to remove $110,000 proposed for a consultant to take high-definition video of the city’s sewer pipes, which is labor-intensive work currently done by city staff. Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams explained that hiring a consultant would free up staff time to focus on a backlog of other projects. However, several city councilmembers said approving the consultant hiring is unwise during uncertain economic times. “I don’t think this is the year to be trying this out, and I’d like to revisit it in 2021,” Councilmember Laura Johnson said.
  • Councilmembers supported an amendment by Fraley-Monillas to adjust the amount budgeted for food supplied to volunteers conducting day-long assessments for Edmonds police sergeant candidates — reducing it from $520 to $350. That passed 6-1, with Councilmember Kristiana Johnson voting no.

And finally, the council agreed how to handle meeting in committees — scheduled for next week — given the current use of Zoom. Councilmembers agreed they would meet as a “committee of the whole”next Tuesday — with all councilmembers hearing items normally delegated to a specific committee. This will be followed by a regular council business meeting in case action items must be considered.

Councilmembers also welcomed the city’s newest department director — Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Angie Feser — who started her job earlier this month and was on the Zoom call Tuesday night

— By Teresa Wippel

6 Replies to “Council agrees to early allocation of sales taxes to offset Edmonds Center for Arts cancellations”

  1. My public comments submitted for last night’s Council Meeting:

    On March 27, 2020, during the time period subject to Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-28, Edmonds City Council voted to pass Ordinance No. 4180, an ORDINANCE REMOVING ECC 6.60.090(G) FROM LIST OF MAYOR’S EMERGENCY POWERS. Assuming this action was allowed under Proclamation 20-28, I encourage City Council to do more than this. I encourage City Council to amend the April 7, 2020 Agenda to add an item to contemplate repeal of Ordinance No. 4177. Ordinance No. 4177 was rushed into on Sunday March 22nd and it contains errors such as its references to the “Emergency services coordinating agency (ESCA)”. The ESCA was disbanded in 2015.
    As part of the contemplation of the repeal of Ordinance No. 4177, please ask Mayor Nelson and City Attorney Taraday to explain why there was no discussion of the City of Edmonds Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) during the emergency Council Meeting held on March 22, 2020. The CEMP, dated January 2017, was approved on April 18, 2017. The City’s CEMP is important to the City operationally and it is a legally required document. The CEMP describes the basic strategies, assumptions, objectives and operational protocols which will guide the City’s emergency management efforts through preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. To facilitate effective operations, the City’s CEMP utilizes an Emergency Support Function (ESF) approach. Each ESF identifies the City Department primarily responsible for organizing response actions related to that ESF, as well as support departments and agencies.

    I can find no evidence that the City Council was told that the elimination of the Emergency Operations Board from the City’s Emergency Management Organization results in the City’s Code becoming inconsistent with the CEMP.

    The CEMP is a 265-page long document. The CEMP states on Page 39 that “This CEMP will be updated every four years”. As such, I believe the CEMP needs to be updated later this year and it may make more sense to update E.C.C 6.60 at the same time.

    Were all members of the City Council aware of the CEMP and the ESF prior to your vote on Sunday March 22, 2020? Was there anything else you might not have been aware of before your vote on Sunday?

    The CEMP clearly states that City of Edmonds Ordinance 2224 and Municipal Code 6.60 are part of the authorities and references used in the completion of the 2017 version of the City’s CEMP. It appears this topic has been looked at in detail in recent years. In January of 2019, the City posted a job opening for the position of Safety and Disaster Coordinator that referenced the CEMP.

    The CEMP clearly states that the Mayor or his/her successor may proclaim special emergency orders under Edmonds Municipal Code 6.60.

    As Ordinance No. 4177 contains errors and makes our Code inconsistent with our CEMP, I think it best to start this process over by repealing Ordinance No. 4177. Please consider such at tonight’s City Council Meeting. Please appreciate, our CEMP requires the PRIMARY AGENCY known as the Emergency Operations Board. Ordinance No. 4177 struck the Emergency Operations Board from the City’s Code, Chapter 6.60 ECC.

    Proclamation 20-28 greatly limits what City Council can do at this time. As Ordinance No. 4180 was passed 4 days after Governor Inslee issued Proclamation 20-28, it is reasonable to believe Council can repeal Ordinance No. 4177 during the time the Proclamation is effective. Why wait when there is time to repeal right now? Remember – the public had no opportunity to provide input and facts before Council voted to pass Ordinance No. 4177. After repeal, Council can consider whether any changes need to be made to Chapter 6.60 ECC later in the year at the same time our CEMP is being updated. There can be a robust public process later this year, something I believe will be better accomplished in conjunction with the required update to the CEMP. Thank you for considering this.

    Next, I encourage City Council to amend the April 7, 2020 Agenda to add an item to discuss the following three facts:

    1. The Mayoral Proclamation of Emergency signed my Mayor Nelson on March 5, 2020 failed to reference the City’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP).

    2. Page 33 of the City’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) clearly states that the Proclamation of Local Emergency must be ratified by the City Council as soon as practical following the emergency.

    3. City Council never ratified the Mayoral Proclamation of Emergency signed my Mayor Nelson on March 5, 2020.

    Please discuss the above 3 facts and what needs to be done about it. Please consider whether Mayor Nelson needs to disclose to the public that his March 5, 2020 Proclamation was never ratified. Does a new Proclamation need to be done? I think so if the City Council believes a valid proclamation is needed. If so, please make sure the new proclamation includes reference to our CEMP before City Council considers ratification.

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  2. Now is a great time to proceed with videoing the sewer pipes. There is less traffic on the roads resulting in minimal impact to commuters, safer working conditions for the workers and more efficient work. In addition, the pipes may be dry now, which would provide better video. If the City has the equipment they should hire some local unemployed workers and get the work done while keeping the money in our community. I don’t understand how the Council can delay spending $110,000 on infrastructure but back a $2 million dollar loan to the senior center.

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    1. The videoing and video reviewing of the pipes has always been performed by the City. The $110K were to hire a consultant to help free up staff time. While we all recognize how hard our public works staff works, the timing seems off considering the Council will have to review all aspects of our budget, including utility funds.

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      1. Thanks for the response. I appreciate it when Council members respond to inquiries on this website. I wish we saw it more often.

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  3. Also, with less traffic, this would be a great time to fill some of those pot holes…

    …Just sayin’

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  4. Right on Council Person Buckshnis. Who knows, that $110,000 might just keep a couple of our valuable public works staff on the payroll as the bad budget news escalates.

    The senior center loan guarantee was a good call too, as that building may just be a vital asset for helping the community overcome some of the negative aspects of what we are going through. A place where the whole community can have access and come together to heal. In my opinion it is much more critical to protect than the arts center and various parks and projects. Support and development of those things can certainly be put on hold temporarily as the financial situation dictates. The parks are currently pretty good by any standards and available for use with or without enhancements.

    I complement the seven of you and the Mayor for your actions as a group so far. You have a difficult job ahead and I respect and admire you all for doing it.

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