Letter to the editor: What’s the rush with the 2022 CIP/CFP?

Editor:

The rate increases you see in your utility bills are due to projections on two critical budgetary tools: the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and the Capital Facilities Plan (CFP). In addition to rushing approval of the budget (scheduled for Nov. 16 this year), Council President Paine and Mayor Nelson are rushing approval of the CIP/CFP as well. These documents contain millions of dollars of Edmonds capital improvements and construction, which are tied directly to the budget. The CIP/CFP focuses mostly on public works (water, sewer, streets) and parks construction.

In 2019 Councilmember Buckshnis wrote an op-ed for the Edmonds Beacon called “What’s the Hub Bub about the CIP/CFP.” The Administration had moved the designated $10 million for the Edmonds Marsh restoration from parks construction projects to public works under stormwater, at a price tag of $16 million, even though only a small fraction of the restoration deals with stormwater. (Side note: One has to wonder if this would have happened if Carrie Hite was still parks director.) Your stormwater utility rates are based on that near-shore marsh estuary being classified by the administration as a stormwater project. For two years now (2019, 2020) the council simple majority (four) have voted to leave that now $17 million in stormwater, despite the numerous letters and comments from scientists, citizens and some councilmembers. One of that majority of four is appointed Councilmember Distelhorst, who will again be able to vote on this issue if the budget is approved, as per the current review schedule, on Nov. 16, his last day in office.

Why is this distinction important? There are millions of state and federal dollars available for salmon recovery and our near-shore estuary restoration. If classified as a regional park and wildlife sanctuary and placed back in parks as a construction project, these millions of federal and state dollars for salmon recovery would be available. I don’t want my utility rates to pay for the marsh when such funds are available. Do you? This should be treated as a holistic project (as before) with the restoration beginning at Marina Beach. Marina Beach should not be considered as a separate park construction project for this reason.

Council is scheduled to have a presentation on the CIP/CFP on Oct. 26, one day before the Edmonds Planning Board’s Oct. 27 public hearing and deliberations on the CIP/CFP. Why is a presentation being scheduled for council before the planning board’s review and recommendations regarding the CIP/CFP are received by council? This is disrespectful of the work of volunteer planning board members.

Do Mayor Nelson and Council President Paine want the Planning Board to merely rubber stamp the CIP/CFP so as to keep to their aggressive budgetary schedule? What if more time is needed to deliberate their recommendations? What if some planning board members want to discuss in detail the marsh restoration, or the Perrinville Creek restoration, which is also part of this document?  The Perrinville Creek situation is deserving of careful consideration as well.

Please write Council President Paine (susan.paine@edmondswa.gov), Mayor Nelson (mike.nelson@edmondswa.gov), and council (council@edmondswa.gov) and ask them to delay council’s deliberations on the CIP/CFP until after the planning board has had their public hearing, deliberated and provided their recommendations to council.

Joan Bloom
Former Edmonds city councilmember

  1. Joan – Thank you for following the science – best practices for funding the “Edmonds’s Marsh” – Your thesis is logical, holistic – that can best protect and serve the Edmonds’s region similar to the “Edmonds Underwater Regional Park”.

  2. We should not have to have the citizens suffer yet another tax increase. WE should wait until we can use the Federal money mentioned here. Or state whatever just not our utilities…I am happy we have the Marsh. But I also know this Marsh is vulnerable. Vulnerable in many ways. So just in case your plans don’t go as planned lets let this one “If classified as a regional park and wildlife sanctuary and placed back in parks as a construction project, these millions of federal and state dollars for salmon recovery would be available. ” That is the sensible and reasonable thing to do.
    As far as why the hurry with Paine and Mayor well we already that answer and of course they want to hurry it. Thats been obvious with all they want to get done before election results. Somethings are just too obvious to ignore. Its pitiful…I now know another person I will never vote for Ms. Paine.

  3. Thank you for following the money and explaining how the Marsh could be funded correctly without laying more of the burden on the citizens.
    This is like double taxation! Please do not rush this budget!

  4. Thank you, Joan for clarification of a very important budgetary tool that needs to be “scrubbed” and Council was not part of the process. So lots of new pictures and confusing language in these documents.

    Language was changed in the Stormwater aspect for the Marsh restoration – which again the Council has never approved any consultants for the Marsh restoration for salmon recovery. The designs and estimates in Stormwater is from the consultants that was used for the hydrology grant in 2013. Because the Administration was attempting to mitigate land use with WSDOT in 2018-19 for the non-defunct “connector” – six designs were created by Shannon Wilson. So that entire narrative in the 2022 Stormwater is suspect, at best.

    There is $67mm set aside for salmon recovery. Yet, the Administration committed $4mm of our taxpayer dollars for the Marina Beach revitalization as Parks and Recreation separated Marina Beach from the holistic approach (utilized under Carrie Hite) of a regional park, near-shore estuary and wildlife habitat. This is plain wrong as salmon recovery starts at Marina Beach Park and the master plan highlights the tidal channel as it flows under the railroad tracks.

    So again, thanks Joan… this is a difficult budgetary aspect to understand; but it’s so impactful from a salmon recovery perspective as millions of state and federal dollars will be left on the table if not corrected and most importantly, our utility rates should not be the funding source for a near-shore estuary restoration.

  5. When we were on city council together, Joan Bloom and I often disagreed about strategies and the direction the city should be taking. However, reading her words above, I could not agree with her more. There is no need to rush the budget or the CIP/CFP approval process. Edmonds citizens, make your voices heard.

  6. I do hope that Edmonds citizens will pay attention to how the city budget is managed — both the process and the content. Yes, it can be overwhelming and confusing, but it is important.
    As an advocate for restoration of the Edmonds Marsh/Estuary, I share concerns about the best approach to funding that project. if it is listed as a stormwater project, that detracts from the purpose of the restoration. We need the estuary to function for the benefit of salmon, birds, and other wildlife.

  7. I submitted the following via e-mail:

    Good morning, Mayor and Council,

    I am writing in regard to the 2022 – 2027 CFP/CIP, which the Planning Board will be holding a public hearing on tomorrow. Though I serve on the Planning Board, my comments are mine alone.

    I am extremely concerned about the timing of Council reviewing and weighing in on the CFP/CIP ahead of Planning Board. In the years I’ve served on the Board, this review and public hearing happened before coming to Council. Maybe this was a scheduling out of sync error?

    I understand and appreciate that there is a lot of items on Council’s extended agenda that you’re looking to get through in a timely manner by year’s end, but I believe it would be a mistake to cover this topic at your meeting tonight. I believe it would create increased tension from community members and potentially create more work for the Council:

    1. Community members who are/were going to participate in the Planning Board’s public hearing may feel their voices won’t be heard or won’t count because it’s happening after tonight’s scheduled presentation.

    2. Should input/feedback from the Planning Board’s public hearing differ from Council’s initial comments tonight or if new information is introduced or learned at the Planning Board’s public hearing, Council may need to double back and reconsider their initial observations.

    As a community, we are already battling concerns about residents not being heard in the City’s decision-making process. While I don’t believe this is the intent of tonight’s CFP/CIP review, I am concerned that moving ahead with tonight’s presentation will only feed those concerns further.

    I respectfully request that you postpone Council’s presentation until the Planning Board’s public hearing on this tomorrow occurs. Chalk it up to a scheduling error and put the review back in the correct order.

    In Service,
    Alicia Crank
    Edmonds resident and Planning Board member

    1. I concur with Alicia on this matter, as a colleague on Planning Board. I hope City Council does the right thing and reschedules these important budget decisions.

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