Letter to the editor: Good government needs our help — will council let us?

Editor:

Good government is one that has clearly defined the issues it wants to solve and engages all the stakeholders who can help create solutions which are measurable and sustainable. It must also be willing to adjust as situations change.

Lived here for 46 years, and after volunteering on civic issues for 20 years I have seen multiple budget cycles. Expenses have grown faster than revenues, and before the current events the gap has grown wider in recent years and the 2020 budget has the widest gap in recent history. Reserves are being reduced. Current issues will only create a wider gap that is already planned.

Basically, the problem we are trying to solve is “How do we close the gap between expenses and revenues?”

So, who should be the stakeholder at the table to sort out potential solutions? Basically, all of us or at least a significant cross section of our population to represent the various interests in Edmonds. See the recommendation below. This recommendation was garnered by more than 78% of the folks responding to the Strategic Action Plan.

Before all the current issues, the budget already showed a reduction of revenues and an increase in expenses. The gap got bigger! Reserves were already planned to go down!

To deal with the gap that was already projected, city council approved a budget that had a 25% increase in EMS taxes. The implementation of this tax requires action by council that is not even on the agenda for 2020?

During the last budget cycle and continuing now, council has pushed off into the future some expenses for Civic Park, water projects, and deferred more maintenance on our buildings and streets. Recently it assigned some of our reserves to the effort to complete the Waterfront Activities Center. It is doubtful the performing arts center will be able to meet its obligations to the city as well. And we continue to look for $30 million for the marsh and we have no current plans for waterfront access.

Recommendation:  =All told we have some big budget issues to solve and what better way to solve them than a community effort as outlined in the Strategic Action Plan already approved by Council twice! That recommendation would to be establish the Budgeting by Outcomes or what others call Budgeting by Priorities model for our current budget issues. The gap between revenues and expenses was already growing and with the fallout from the current issues the gap will be larger!

Council has their hands (washed of course) full and the rest of us are just sitting around doing whatever. We could help prioritize the revenues needed and the expenses planned to help close the gap. We can help if council will let us. Without fixing the gap problem, we will all be left holding the bag. (not plastic of course).

Darrol Haug
Edmonds

26 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Good government needs our help — will council let us?”

  1. City government has made choices to put the art stuff (Art’s Center), fun stuff (Civic Park), Climate stuff ( Marsh and day lighting of Deer Creek), and special interest stuff (Senior/Waterfront Center and building codes and enforcement that benefit some groups over others) and just plain silly stuff ( waterfront connector and Main and 5th. fountain) ahead of necessary stuff (roads, sidewalks, building repair and upkeep, park maintenance and police and fire protection). We’ve been so obsessed with making Edmonds, not Deadmonds that the cart is now trying frantically to pull the horse. This revenue shortfall is going to be vastly exacerbated by the virus shut down. Basically we have remodeled the kitchen and run out of money to fix the leaking roof over the nice new kitchen. There is no way to prevent Edmonds from becoming a very expensive city to live in, in the long run. We will have to borrow money from the federal government as they print more and more of it. Better sooner than later to get the advantage of virus crisis created low interest lending or we will never pay for our luxuries and the highly touted Edmonds Kind of Day we so proudly proclaim to all who will listen. Darrol is right.

    Ignored

  2. Clint, my lips got tired trying to read all this to find my name! Your last statement claimed I was right! So let me be sure what you think I am right about. The only thing I recommended is that we simply do what council approved when they approved the Strategic Action Plan and implement Budgeting By Priorities. Hopefully, Mr. Wright (smile now), that is what you think I am right about?

    To others who may be reading this we may all need to learn a bit more about the BBP process. To help everyone to understand a bit more about BBP you can check out this information on the links below. They are from the City of Redmond who has been using the BBP process successfully for years. My goal in writing this letter to the editor in the first place was to “teach not tell” some things about the Edmonds budget and the process by which we create it. Just scanning the information below will give you a flavor of the BBP process.
    https://www.redmond.gov/988/Budget-Priorities
    https://www.redmond.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4560/BUDGET-BY-PRIORITIES-PDF

    The gap between revenues and expenses was already increasing before CV and our reserves were declining. All CV has done is accelerate the gap it did not create it.

    The basic idea is to set into motion the idea of how do we create the best government for Edmonds we can.
    Good Government is a lot of hard work be we can do it. Does anyone else have some thoughts about where we go from here?

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    1. Budgeting by priorities and implementing a strategic action plan is the same thing as saying we spent money on really nice things we couldn’t really afford, so now we have to do something about it. Sorry if you don’t approve of or agree with how I said it, but I still think I’m right (I’m always Wright, even when I’m wrong). We were spend-aholics and now we have to pay the price. As my financial planner says, ” we hope for the best but PLAN for the worst.” I too look forward to other’s thoughts on where we have been and where we should go from here as a city.

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  3. Dear Mr Wright, We have not implemented the element of the SAP that is BBP! 68% gave it high ratings. Your comments suggest you may be among the 32%. Smile Clint. Please take some time to read the links provided to see what BBP is all about. and The public is very involved and not just the special interest groups you mentioned. This time you musings (thanks DB) are Wright musings but are not right. No intent to put you down, just trying to help with your learning process. Found a new beer you should try.

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  4. You’re right, Mr. Wright. Budgeting By Priorities only helps insure that funds are more appropriately spent, such a practice does not insure that the correct total amount is spent. The city needs to start by balancing the budget on annual results and not balance it by using prior year surpluses.

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  5. Darrol, Clint, Ron, I think all three of you are wright. We definitely should budget by revenue. Hope all three of you and your family’s are doing well

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    1. Thanks Neighbor Don. I climbed Main Street hill all the way early this week just to prove to myself I could still do it. Slept pretty damn good that night. Stay safe and well all.

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  6. Its an interesting phrase “hope for the best but plan for the worst”. Our former mayor twisted the phrase around to “plan for the best and the worst doesn’t happen”. For the last six years, I have been sending emails to the mayor and the city council about over spending. Now we are faced not only with an approved budget that has a $30 million deficit built in (yes that’s right $30 million) but the certainty of a significant revenue deficit going forward. Sales tax revenues are going to dry up and do you think people are going to choose paying their property tax over eating?

    Mayor Nelson needs to immediatley direct Scott James, the finance director, to make models of how the city is going to run with a 20-50% revenue deficit. Also, Mike stop new hiring–“we are not in Kansas anymore”.

    Ignored

    1. Not sure where you saw the $30 million deficit. The adopted budget has expenditures of $130.3 million and revenue of $109 million causing a deficit of $21 million – still very substantial, but not $30 million.

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  7. Doug makes and some very valuable comments on the need for expense controls as we face declining revenues. During the last budget cycle the city pointed out the need to deal with the $5.6m deferred building maintenance and to budget $800k annually to make sure maintenance is not deferred in the future. Also in that cycle the report on the condition of our roads estimated the need to budget for over $2m annually to do basic catch up and insure the least amount of damage in future years.

    During that cycle I wrote about funding both the building and roads issues and Doug reminded me that the expense lines of the budget had a very large percentage increase in the last few years and suggested I look for ways to cut expenses and not add revenues. I recall that to be the thrust of his comments. Doug was correct then and correct now that we need to do a better job of managing our expenses.

    That is exactly what Budgeting by Priorities does. Had we implemented BBP back in April 2013 when it was approved by Council we would have done a more effective management of our budget. The BPP plan calls for much more citizen input into the process than exists in our current budgeting process. Check out the links above to see for yourselves how Redmond uses BBP in its budget process.

    Doug’s points are very valid and we can use the BBP process to help us get out of what will be a increasing gap between revenue and expenses for 2020. Below are just some of the major revenue sources for Edmonds. We will begin to see the impact of the CV on these revenues when the city prepares its first quarter budget report the revenue picture will not be pretty.

    Basic Revenue Sources with comments about each:
    Property Tax: Council can increase by 1%/yr and the public can vote on larger increases. If everyone pays there taxes now this revenue will be as planned.

    EMS Tax: This is a special property tax calculated differently than regular PT. These revenues will follow the pattern of the current tax payment. But the Budget has a projected 20% increase of EMS taxes built into the budget plan. Council need to act on that budget increase soon and it is not even scheduled for discussion.

    Sales tax: Buy a car or a burger and Edmonds gets a small portion of the tax, the state gets most of it. These revenues will very likely go down by large amounts.

    REIT Taxes: Sell your house and the city gets a one-time tax on the transaction. Build a new building and the same happens. There are other taxes and additions to the tax base that also happen. More complicated than space allows. Parks and Street share these revenues so the plans associated with this revenue are in jeopardy.

    There are a host of other grants, fees and intergovernmental transfers which add to the revenues. No one know yet will happen with these. The Governor has already announced some major cuts which could impact these revenues.

    Doug, thanks for your input it speaks clearly to the issues of expense and revenues. I won’t bore folks with an expense discussion now but the intent of the letter in the first place was right in the title. “Good Govt need our help – will council let us?” That what the implementation of Budgeting by Priorities is designed to do.

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  8. First of all, Darrol, if you say we need to do it, I’m all in because you always do your homework and then some; and you know what you are talking about.

    As to Mr. Swartz’ comment I totally agree too. I would add that it would be a good move for the Mayor and Council to appoint our current Acting Police Chief to the official position and save the city whatever that process is going to cost. You have already vetted him and he is already doing the job rather well it appears.

    The City will soon be looking for pennies wherever it can find them and the time to start is now. It would also be good for some sort of council committee or appropriate city official(s) to start studying all the legislation coming out at the Federal level to garner all the grants and low or no interest loans for local infrastructure that the city can snag as quick as possible. There will be politics involved because our current President is not particularly interested in helping states that don’t “appreciate” him (his words not mine). Edmonds probably isn’t all that blue; but WA. is perhaps the bluest of the blue which may make it tougher for our city to get it’s share of the emergency spending.

    We voted for change and better government of the city. It’s now time for the people we chose to be all hands on deck and make good on their promises to work for all the citizens of the town. The Mayor and Council are going to have their hand’s full (as well as gloved and frequently washed).

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  9. Clint, Thanks for the comments. Your are very correct about Doug’s comments. See my comments above for greater detail. There are probably a number of expense reduction things we could do immediately that would give the public the confidence that we are going to do things to save money and protect services and the public. I would agree that the search for a new police chief can be dropped for the moment. I’m sure the Mayor and Council know that they can appoint Acting Chief Lawless to the position and if he fails to do the job they can also simply demote him back to assistant chief. This action would save the search money, give Mr. Lawless the opportunity to prove himself and if he fails he can have his old job back and we do the search then. Good suggestion Clint.

    Hopefully others will concur that we need to quickly put into place a citizens team to look at the revenues and expenses and help the Council make some very difficult decisions to keep us from going completely under water in our budget. That tidal change is happening much sooner than the 2-4 foot increase in the real tide.

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  10. I have long admired Redmond’s budgeting process (Renton does a very good job as well). Redmond follows a form of Budgeting By Priorities (BPP). The suggestions about the need for our city to become far more disciplined in making expense and capital decisions are right on point—an axiom in the budgeting process is if everything is a top priority nothing is a priority. In fact, an effort was made during the past two years to build greater discipline into the City’s financial planning process—this effort was entitled Long Range Financial Planning and involved a group of citizens and city staff, and was led by our Finance Director. Unfortunately, this effort eventually fizzled out due to lack of consistent support by Council and the administration. I would strongly encourage the new Council to take a careful look at moving to a BPP budgeting process, ensure the Strategic Action Plan top priorities are all addressed and determine how to most effectively incorporate direct citizen input into the budgeting prioritization process.
    We are moving toward another recession, and unfortunately, the new administration will soon be facing tough budget cut decisions as the former administration experienced in 2008. This will be a painful process, but may be the impetus the city needs to move toward BPP to better position us financially to handle future economic fluctuations.

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    1. Dave, we miss you on Council, Tom and Neil too! Your comments are will founded. Folks, Dave was also on the Finance Committee. His work on the parking study and on sorting out the homelessness issue were also done well. Discussion of both these issues has also seemed to “disappear”. He is absolutely right about the LRFP effort. Some good folks were involved and their work did fizzle. One thing important to note is the LRFP work was done pretty much without any public input or even public awareness. It was not an open public process.

      Dave, thanks for lending you knowledgeable voice to the idea of BBP.

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  11. As it relates to “good government”, what happens when a budgeted item is not executed? Is there accountability? Is it budgeted for again?

    Mayor Earling’s 2015 Budget Message stated: “We will also continue updating our City Code”. The 2015 budget included $85,000 for the development code update.

    On March 5, 2015, a City Press Release announced an Open House to “Kick Off Major Update of City’s Development Code”. The Press Release stated, “The City Council directed that the code get a major update”. Please see an article about the open house at:
    https://myedmondsnews.com/2015/03/open-house-drills-down-to-details-of-planned-city-code-rewrite/

    It was called a “Kick Off” but the Code Rewrite had been budgeted for before. Former City Attorney Scott Snyder stated in his November, 2007 City Attorney annual report that the biggest issue at the start of 2007 was the Code Rewrite. Mr. Snyder stated the intent was to begin the Rewrite last year and finish it this year (2007). Mr. Snyder summarized that the Code Rewrite was approximately a year behind schedule as of November, 2007. Following is some of the history:

    1. City Council Meeting Minutes for January 24,2006 include:
    “Development Services Director Duane Bowman recalled the Council allocated $140,000 in the 2006 budget for a rewrite of the Edmonds Community Development Code (ECDC) which staff projected would be a two -year process. The original code was adopted in 1981, had been amended piecemeal over time and needed to be updated.”
    2. The 2009-2010 Budget included the following:
    “Completion of the City’s Shoreline Master Plan update and the Edmonds Community Development Code rewrite will occur in 2009-2010.”
    3. The 2013 Budget provided $75,000 for the beginning of a re-write of the City’s code.
    4. The 2015 budget included $85,000 for the development code update.

    It is now over 4 years since anything has been added to the City’s “Edmonds Community Development Code Updates” website page. Code amendments have passed since the “Kick Off”, but it is unknown if the amendments are part of the major update directed by City Council or if the City is back on the piecemeal amendment path.

    On December 10, 2018 I emailed Council, cc’d Mayor Earling and requested they budget for the completion of the Code Rewrite. I have repeatedly requested disclosure of public funds spent on the Code Rewrite since 2006 and asked the City to make sure all citizens know what percentage of the Code Rewrite has been completed. My requests have not been responded to.

    Hopefully information will be provided, and the execution of the Code Rewrite will be completed. As Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas stated in the March 5, 2015 Press Release:
    “Edmonds is a great community, it’s really important that our code is updated to guide what happens here and that it is written in a way that’s user friendly.”

    Item #8 on the City Council Budget Priority List for 2020 is:
    “Insure code updates are completed.”

    The entire Code needs to be rewritten, not just the ECDC. There is hope once again that this high priority item will be executed.

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  12. Hi Ken, thanks for commenting. Actually with the good govt principles noted in the letter to the editor and the recommendation to implement Budgeting by Priorities the whole matter of a code rewrite would have been handled differently than what has happened or what has “not” happened.

    The first principles of Good Government as stated above:
    “Good government is one that has clearly defined the issues it wants to solve and engages all the stakeholders who can help create solutions which are measurable and sustainable. It must also be willing to adjust as situations change.”

    I do not pretend to know how to define the problem we are trying to solve with a code rewrite but before we can do the job of a rewrite we should try to figure out the problem we are trying to solve. Is it:
    1. Write a code that can describe every possible nuance of an issue?
    2. Write a code that can be enforced.
    3. Write a code that we are willing to pay for its enforcement.
    4. Write a code that can work most of the time as written but does require judgments and appeal processes.

    These are but 4 ways to define the problem we are trying to solve. I looked at the animal control code and does none of the 4 well. One easy point to make is about leashes. No not the cat leash part, don’t what to start that war again. But the code dictates the length of the leash to be no more than 8 feet. One line the shortest retractable lease sold is 9 feet but most are 18-26 feet. So most folks I have seen us illegal leashes. We are also not willing to pay for enforcement so we have a code that we will not enforce except selectively. This code goes on for pages and pages! I can only imagine how difficult it would be to rewrite just this code and please everyone. And do it in a way that is even enforceable with limited budget dollars to dedicate to enforcement.

    Using the BBP process would help more clearly define the problem we are trying to solve and then with the “Offers” (one can see what that is all about by reading the links provided above) from the various departments. Once in place each dept would be held accountable to perform as “offered”.

    The point is that with a Good Govt process as described and a BBP process in place and working we would have a far better way to almost anything government does. Animal Control, land use, public safety and protecting our infrastructure.

    Ken, the folks who currently say they do not have much time to sit down and do the code rewrite as currently discussed and not processing permits and doing other things that take up their time meeting with the public. Maybe they are taking this time to do some code rewrite and we just haven’t yet see the results. Council members should probably ask what these folks are doing with their time during this whole CV thing.

    Ken, thanks for commenting. You made some really good points.

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  13. Thanks Darrol. I appreciate your letter to the editor and your comments. My thought is that budgeting is one part of good government, but it is much bigger than that. In addition to the City Council, will the Mayor, City Staff and City Attorney let us help?
    One problem that has been defined is the Code dates to the 1980s and piecemeal amendments make it difficult to use and administer. The Code would facilitate better government if only its errors and inconsistencies were addressed.
    During Harry Gatchens’ February, 2011 Citizens Coffee with former City Attorney Scott Snyder, Mr. Snyder represented that he had suggested to the Council in 2004 that a code rewrite was probably a shrewd thing to do. Money was appropriated to do that the next year (2005), but the process itself has been slow and cumbersome.
    Lots of money has been appropriated to help the City government complete this task. What has that money accomplished?
    As a citizen, I’ve tried to help with limited success. Following are excerpts from an email I sent to City Attorney Jeff Taraday on April 5, 2012 – a summary of Code Rewrite issues I suggested be addressed. Some were addressed, others weren’t. Following is an example of issues that have not been addressed, despite all the money budgeted:

    > EMC 2.05 code requires the City Attorney to attend all sessions of the Edmonds Municipal Court. [Ord. 2430, 1984; Ord. 1107, 1965; Ord. 926 § 2, 1962]

    > ECDC 20.75.040(C). A survey map, if required by the community development director, of the exterior boundaries of the land to be subdivided, prepared by, and bearing the seal and signature of, a professional land surveyor registered in the state of Washington. This map can be combined with the preliminary ECDC 20.75.050 plat at the applicant’s option. Section 20.75.050 does not discuss a preliminary plat map. It discusses lot line adjustments. The reference should be to Section 20.75.060.

    > ECC 2.05.010 states that the city council shall utilize the consultant selection process established by Chapter 2.80 ECC 2.80 provided that the mayor shall participate with the city council consultant selection committee in the selection of up to three candidates for presentation to the city council for its final approval. Chapter 2.80 ECC was repealed by Ordinance 3303 many years ago. (Update, Ordinance 3303 was recently repealed by Ordinance 4171 but the Code does not say that in Chapter 2.80 ECC.)

    > ECC Chapter 2.40 is titled BONDS FOR OFFICERS.

    It includes the following:

    2.40.010 Bonds required – Amounts, blanket bond authorized.

    The finance director, city clerk, deputy city clerk, chief of police and city attorney shall be bonded and may be so bonded by an individual bond policy or by a blanket bond policy including other city employees, naming the city of Edmonds as its beneficiary and bonding all covered officers and employees for $5,000 or more for fidelity, for $5,000 or more for faithful performance, and for $45,000 or more as an aggregate excess fidelity coverage. The surety for such bond shall be a surety company authorized to do business in the state of Washington, or an unauthorized surety insurer as a surplus line pursuant to Chapter 48.15 RCW. Any such bond offered in satisfaction of this section must be approved by the mayor. [Ord. 2317 § 1, 1982].

    – Why does ECC 2.40.010 not require Bonds for other positions thought to be “City Officer” positions, such as:

    Hearing Examiner
    Community Services Director
    Administrative Services Director
    Development Services Director (Director of Community Development)
    Parks and Recreation Director
    Public Works Director
    Human Resources Director

    – Are the bond AMOUNTS still adequate? Is $5,000 or more for fidelity, $5,000 or more for faithful performance, and $45,000 or more as an aggregate excess fidelity coverage adequate at this point in time. The related ordinance was drafted in 1982 and the required bond amounts may be inadequate as 30 years have passed.

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    1. Hi Ken, would have responded earlier but we lost power all day Sunday, that took down the internet, TV and Phone service. What’s a couch potato to do? Partially restored and now that I have access to MEN I wanted to respond. Your point about good government being a big idea covering all sorts of things is very valid but from my experience the big picture GG will be very hard to achieve. What I said above is this: “Good government is one that has clearly defined the issues it wants to solve and engages all the stakeholders who can help create solutions which are measurable and sustainable. It must also be willing to adjust as situations change.” I am taking an issue by issue point of view to suggest that we have to start somewhere on the principles stated in quotes. The key points are “what is the problem we are trying to solve” and “who should be at the table to help create the solution?”

      My letter was dealing with just one issue of government based on our current situation. We have a gap between revs and exps, that’s why the reserves are going down and that is why council voted for a budget that has a 20% increase in EMS taxes. The tax increase does not solve the gap issue it only slows the progression of the gap. More revenues are needed or more expenses need to be cut or some combination. The problem we should be trying to solve is the “gap” and more citizen involvement would lend itself to better solutions. BBP does exactly that.

      Looking at the Code, one could suggest the “problem we are trying to solve is; 1. eliminate duplication and conflicts in the code, 2. Make the code so complete and covering every possible situation with detailed discussion. 3. Make the code simpler based on principles and let humans interpret the code and provide escalations and appeal processes to see that the principles of the code are being followed. Kind of like a constitution vs a full blown tax code. So the first step for code rewrite is to clearly state, “what is the problem we are trying to solve.” then comes the stake holders and it seems clear we need more citizen input. Most issues we deal with we appoint a citizen commission to sort out the issues for recommendation to council and staff.

      For the Gap issue BBP would be an effective way to engage the public input in defining and finding ways to deal with the budget Gap. For Code issues we should so the same type of thing we are doing with housing, and all the other issues for which we have a citizens commission. That would be the only way to clearly gather citizen input and create solutions that will be supported by our citizens.

      Edmonds is facing many big and costly issues: Money to pay for the WF center and the walkway in front of the Ebb Tide, How do we pay for any cost overruns for Civic Park?, Where do we put the Boys and Girls Club and how do we pay for it?, WF access issues, How do we want to use the Unocal property, How do we make up the shortfall for PAC? Do we need more DT parking?, How do we preserve our interesting DT. For each of these issues it will be necessary to clearly define the problem we are trying to solve and be sure we have all the stakeholders at the table as we create sustainable solutions.

      Thanks for your comments Ken.

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      1. Thanks for your response Darrol. My experience has been that attempts to engage are not always respected by City government, most emails are not responded to and reasonable requests are ignored. The last email response I received from former Mayor Dave Earling was on March 9, 2012 and the last email response I received from current Mayor Mike Nelson was on April 6, 2018 when he still had almost 21 months left on his City Council term.
        The City has a Code of Conduct that states that the City’s primary function is to provide service to the citizens of Edmonds. To achieve that goal, all employees are expected to treat the public as their most valued customer. Do our Mayors do so? If not, how can our Mayors expect and require employees to do so?
        Yesterday morning I emailed public comments for the City Council meeting. My comments were not read out loud and I don’t believe either of my 2 requests were mentioned or discussed by any of my elected officials. I will post my public comments under the article about last night’s meeting.
        Regarding the Gap, I respect Doug Swartz’s point that “Mayor Nelson needs to immediately direct Scott James, the finance director, to make models of how the city is going to run with a 20-50% revenue deficit.” You talk about citizen involvement – how about Doug’s efforts over the last 6 years sending emails to the Mayor and the City Council about overspending?
        Darrol – a point I am making is that the city has known for many, many years that there is a problem that needs solving with our City Code. The problem that needs to be solved was understood well enough that hundreds of thousand of dollars have been budgeted to solve the problem. The Code rewrite has been budgeted for on multiple occasions, yet the City refuses to respond to requests such as the following taking from one of my emails, this one dated December 10, 2018:
        “Please also provide full disclosure of all public funds spent on the Code Rewrite since 2006 as well as an accounting of what the use of that public money has accomplished. Please make sure all citizens know what percentage of the Code Rewrite has been completed.”

        I’ve tried hard to bring a wide variety of issues to the attention of City leaders for many years. My opinion is: There is not an appreciation of all stakeholder’s attempts to participate.

        That being said, I still believe citizens should do our part and strive for good government.

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        1. Hi Ken, I want to let you know that with all of your examples of code issues I really do understand your assessment of the issues as you see them. I do not need to be convinces with more examples.

          My original letter was designed to show how the principles of good government could be used to deal with the budget gap. I am quite sure the analysis Doug has suggested is well underway. Without it council would not have been able to make the budget decision on Tues that they did.

          It is clear to me that we would be better prepared for the gut wrenching decisions we will have to make if we were to immendiate gather and listen to more public input to the new budget issues. BBP would do that not only for the Gap issue but also for the Code issue. And the parking issues, and the PAC issues, and the WF access issues and on and on.

          No one commenting here said it was wrong to do BBP. Council probably will not act on this or other issues unless and until a group of folks carrying signs and chanting slogans picket the council. Not going to happen in the short run.

          Council could craft a series of surveys like they did for the initial parking survey when 705 folks responded and gave meaningful input. That would give them instant public input and it would allow that input to be made public.

          In these times we need to think creatively about how to keep the public engaged. We can do better if we try.

          Ignored

  14. There you go Mr. Mayor and Honorable Council Persons. You have Darrol H., Ken R., Dave T., Ron W., Douglas S., and Don H., all concerned and very active local citizens, who could be an instant ad hoc council committee available to help you get our city financial affairs in order; businessmen, former council persons, accountants and generally responsible people. I don’t include myself because in normal times I’m gone for months at a time and I don’t want to be confused with someone who wants a real job, paid or unpaid. Plus, I’m not all that responsible.

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  15. I agree that that would make for a great citizen committee!

    I read all of this- and followed the links- and appreciate the time and effort that went in to these observations and comments (and the many observations and comments offered in past commentaries and emails).

    Messages received.

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  16. Teresa told me once before that it is best to summarize what has happend with a post and then see what happens or just let it fade away. Great advice. Including this one there have been 25 comments.
    Darrol 11, Clint 5, Ken 3, Ron 2, Don, Doug, Dave T, and Vivian Olson one each. Most were supportive of trying to address the inceasing gap between revenues and expenses. I say most because in fairness to some commenters like Ken, they really never agreed that we had a gap or made any comments about how to approach the closing of the gap.

    It can be noted that elsewhere on MEN many have commented about budget issues but most of those we suggesting what should be cut rather than support a process like BBP to figure out how best to close the gap; more revenues less expense or some combination. But those folks did not comment here so it is unclear if they feel we have a gap and if we do how would we go about closing the gap with some public input.

    While all comments are important, some comments come from folks who are more knowledgeable about budget issues and the public process of creating budgets that reflect a more complete array of public input.

    BBP had the highest public support of any items in the SAP that could be implemented by Council who have approve BBP twice! Each of the 5 or 6 finance directors since BBP was first approved have presented plans on how to implement the process. Cost never exceed $25k. Council present for the last 2 years have devoted a majority of time at the council retreates to BBP. Council has actually brought in the former finance director of Redmond to conduct discussions of the BBP process. It was helpful that Dave T and Vivian O have commented here. Both have been or are part of the finance committee.

    We would be curious to know how other Council members see the the Gap issue and their ideas of how to develop a public process to sort out the issue. A week has past since the original post and to her credit Vivian has been the only current Council member to comment. Dave T. commented from his 4 year history on the Council.

    Thanks to MEN for posting the letter in the first place and thanks to the 7 other people who took the time to make comments on what will turn out to be the biggest issue of 2020 for Edmonds.

    Ignored

    1. Former Mayor Earling’s 2020 Budget Message included the following:
      “The staff and I found great value in the new process suggested by the Council in addressing the Council priorities. Even though we received the Council priorities very late into the budget development process, the staff and I have worked diligently to address the Council priorities. The exhibit on page 27 itemizes the Council priorities and explains how the priorities are foot noted in my Proposed Budget Book.”
      The City Council Budget Priority List for 2020 is on page 30 of the Adopted Budget for 2020. Much detail is provided about the 8 Council Priorities on the pages that follow.
      Darrol, do you know why a new process was suggested by Council instead of simply implementing BBP?
      You have mentioned that BBP was approved twice. Am I right to think you mean that Budgeting for Objectives (BFO) was approved as part of the Strategic Action Plan approved by Edmonds City Council on April 2, 2013 with an update approved by Edmonds City Council on April 7, 2015?
      I can find no Ordinances or Resolutions that adopted our Strategic Action Plan.
      I just did a google search and found that back on June 13, 2014, on My Edmonds News, I noted that our Strategic Action Plan was not adopted via Ordinance. I said:
      Legislative acts are usually accomplished by Ordinance. For example, King County approved and adopted the King County Strategic Plan 2010-2014 via Ordinance 16897 on July 27, 2010.
      I said: The Economic Development Commission Strategic Planning Process Initiative Report included in the September 14, 2011 Edmonds City Council Agenda Packet stated that: “A strategic plan is a contract between citizens and their local government that establishes where a city is going and how it will get there…..”
      I asked: Is our Strategic Action Plan a CONTRACT since it was not adopted via Ordinance?
      Why was our Strategic Action Plan not adopted via Ordinance? As it was not, what exactly is this document and is there any obligation for elected officials or staff to follow it?
      If it does not have to be followed, was it worth the significant expenditure of resources to develop?
      I also asked: Does anybody have any thoughts related to the City’s obligation to follow the Strategic Action Plan?
      I was unable to engage anybody in a discussion back on June 13, 2014. At this time, does anybody have any thoughts on whether it would have been better to adopt the Strategic Action Plan via Ordinance or Resolution?
      Mill Creek adopted its Strategic Plan via Resolution.
      Snohomish adopted its Strategic Plan via Resolution.

      Why did we not do so via Ordinance or Resolution?

      Ignored

  17. Hello Ken, Thanks for your comment and questions. It is my thought that if I attempt to answer any of your questions it will do little to satisfy your quest for information. Your remarks while important and no doubt accurate seem to be rooted in Codes and Ordinances. I would ask Teresa to give you my email and I will be more than happy to offer answers to your latest questions. But it is my belief that answering your questions on this forum would to little to advance the discussion proposed in the authors orginal intend in the letter to the editor.

    This was my second attempt at writing a letter to the editor. The first was less successful in having folks discuss a future issue that Edmonds will face, potential public use of Unocal Property. This letter was a bit more successful for most saw the need to identify and deal with the Gap between Revs and Exp. Many also endorsed the concept of BBP or if you like BFO.

    I guess the good news about writing this letter was that it did not generate any constitutional debates on the 1st and 2nd ammendments.

    Thanks again Ken, I hope when Teresa shares my email you will kindly reach out.

    Ignored

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