(Updated to reflect 5-1-1 vote on Comprehensive Plan map amendment.)
The Edmonds City Council Tuesday night passed an ordinance authorizing nearly $14.4 million in revenue bonds to finance the Edmonds Carbon Recovery Project — a gasification process that will replace the aging sludge incinerator at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The council also voted to support an Edmonds Planning Board recommendation to deny a Comprehensive Plan Map amendment for two properties in the Edmonds Bowl.
Regarding the bond financing plan, the council approved a staff recommendation for 25-year financing with “wrap debt service,” which Public Works and Utilities Director Phil Williams explained as “wrapping the debt service around our existing debt.” Under this plan, the annual debt service payment for the first 18 years will be $375,432, then grow larger at the end as the city pays off its underlying bond debt.
“What this allows us to do is to really levelize or take a lot of the volatility out of annual debt service payments,” Williams said. The interest cost will be 2.64% and the total debt service will be $21,860,814.
The carbon recovery project will process the city’s wastewater treatment plant sludge using pyrolysis and gasification. It will replace Edmonds’ aging mechanical incinerator, which the city has said is nearly a decade beyond the end of its useful life and has become increasingly expensive to maintain due to more stringent air quality standards. The total cost of the project is $26 million, but because three other municipalities — the City of Mountlake Terrace, the Olympic View Water and Sewer District, and the Ronald Sewer District — send their sewage to Edmonds for treatment and disposal, the cost of the new system will be split, with Edmonds paying 50%.
Under Tuesday night’s ordinance — approved by a 6-1 vote with Councilmember Kristiana Johnson opposed — the city will receive $14,386,000 in revenue bonds — with $13,266,090 for construction expenses, and the rest providing the necessary bond reserves and covering issuance costs.
The measure will increase the sewer rate for the average single-family residential homeowner by 88 cents per month — from $45.84 to $46.72.
The ordinance also includes a $21,000 allocation to pay for a third party to certify the bonds as “climate bonds” — possibly the first local agency to issue such bonds. Councilmember Diane Buckshnis had proposed an amendment to remove that expense, stating that the project stands on its own as climate friendly and doesn’t need a separate bond designation. Supporting Buckshnis, Councilmember Vivian Olson suggested that there were other environmentally friendly places the $21,000 could be spent, including paying for some solar panels on the new Edmonds Waterfront Center building. Councilmember Susan Paine, however, agreed with others who supported the idea of climate bonds, stating “We have a strong green ethic here in our town.”
In the end, Buckshnis’ amendment failed on a 3-4 vote (she was joined by Olson and Kristiana Johnson in voting for it).
In other action, the council:
– By a vote of 5-1-1 (Councilmember Luke Distelhorst opposed and Councilmember Olson abstaining because she lives in the area) supported an Edmonds Planning Board decision to deny a Comprehensive Plan Map amendment that would impact two parcels at 522 and 530 9th Ave. N. The applicants, Carolyn Mangelsdorf and Robert Grimm, had explained they wanted to “age in place” by subdividing their large lot, building a smaller house in back and selling the house in front. Under the proposal, the map designation would have been changed from Single Family-Resource to Single Family-Urban 1, the latter of which allows for greater potential density. Opponents who live near the proposed map change said during an earlier public hearing they were worried that it would change the neighborhood’s character, which now includes large lots and green space. Among the concerns expressed by councilmembers was the “piecemeal” approach of the proposal, which would change the map designation for two properties without a broader plan.
– Set a Nov. 17 public hearing date for a street vacation application involving the easterly portion of 184th Street Southwest between 80th Avenue West and Olympic View Drive.
– After an interview with three candidates, selected Edmonds Youth Commissioner Brooke Roberts as the city council’s new student representative. Roberts, an Edmonds resident, is a junior at Shorewood High School in the Shoreline School District.
During its Committee of the Whole meeting that followed the business meeting, the council agreed to move the following items to next week’s consent agenda:
– An amendment to the interlocal agreement with Lake Ballinger/McAleer Creek Watershed Forum that extends the partnership for another three years. The forum includes the cities of Mountlake Terrace, Lake Forest Park, and Edmonds and addresses efforts to protect the lake and its watershed.
– A PUD easement for the Dayton Street Stormwater Pump Station project.
– A professional services agreement with Blueline for the Citywide Bicycle Improvements Project
Also during the committee meeting, councilmembers received the Traffic Impact Fee annual report, and they learned more about the wastewater treatment plant’s recognition as a “Utility of the Future Today.” The program was launched in 2016 by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Federation, the Water Research Foundation and the WateReuse Association. Read more about the honor in the city’s earlier announcement here.
— By Teresa Wippel