Council Nov. 9 to consider proposal for city office on Hwy 99, hold 2022 budget public hearing

The proposed Neighborhood City Office is outlined in black box above. Safeway is located to the left of T-Mobile and is not in the photo. (Images courtesy City of Edmonds)

The Edmonds City Council, meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, will consider a proposal by Mayor Mike Nelson to rent and provide staffing for a 1,309-square-foot office space in Highway 99’s Aurora Marketplace for a Neighborhood City Office, at a cost of $130,396 for 2022.

Also on Tuesday night, the council will hold a public hearing and conduct further deliberations on the 2022 city budget.

The location of the proposed Neighborhood City Office is three doors east of the Safeway store at 23632 Highway 99. According to the council agenda, the space is currently configured with an entry lobby/reception area, a large office/conference room, a second office room, a small office/meeting area, and a rear work station, as well as bathroom and rear emergency exit.

A map showing the proposed office space, number 2100 shaded in orange above.

The space would be staffed four hours per day with a new half-time receptionist/administrative position (total cost of $30,000 including benefits) to answer city government-related questions — including those related to permits, parks and  employment. There would also be racks with informational handouts, the council agenda notes. The Edmonds Police Department’s new community engagement officer would work primarily from this location, and police officers in the Highway 99 area could use office work stations to complete reports, access emails, take breaks and meet with members of the public.

In addition, under the city’s proposal the Edmonds Municipal Court would hold a community court in the larger conference room two to four times per month. An electronic court kiosk would be available in the lobby/reception area for individuals to submit paperwork or access online information. The conference room could also be used for community meetings and staff meetings, the city said.

Monthly rent plus triple net (common area/maintenance plus real estate taxes plus insurance) would be $4,452.78, totaling $53,433.38 per year. The owners have offered up to $26,180 to help defray costs of initial tenant improvements. In addition to the lease terms, the city estimates additional expenses of up to $1,500 monthly to cover utilities, security, IT, custodial and other ancillary operations and maintenance costs

If the lease contract is signed before the end of 2021, a deposit of the first month’s rent of $3,490.67 will be due upon contract execution, and would be part of a fourth quarter 2021 budget amendment.  The remainder of the projected one-time and ongoing costs for 2022 can be included as an amendment to the proposed 2022 budget.

Estimated Costs:

Item Month Year
Tenant Improvements (TI) $43,000
Fixtures, Furnishings, Equipment $12,000
Contribution from Court ($10,000)
Owner TI Allowance ($26,180)
TOTAL ONE-TIME COSTS $18,820
Lease + NNN $4,453 $53,433
Util/IT/Secrty/Cust $1,500 $18,000
.5 FTE staff $30,000
Subtotal $101,433
Contingency @ 10% $10,143
Total Ongoing Costs $111,576

Total 2022 Net Cost Estimate:       $130,396

Prior to the 6:30 p.m. special meeting, the council will meet in two of its three committees: Public Safety, Personnel and Planning at 5 p.m. and Parks and Public Works at 5:30 p.m. There is no Finance Committee meeting this month, which committee chair Diane Buckshnis said was unfortunate as it prevents committee members from discussing more detailed budget background information outside of council meetings.

In a Saturday email copied to the Edmonds media, Buckshnis accused Council President Susan Paine — who sets council meeting agendas — of having “marginalized the Finance Committee,” adding she is disappointed with Paine’s leadership “as you continue to not support the Finance Committee or the expertise of the individuals you appointed to be on this committee.”

Paine said Sunday via email that she didn’t schedule a Finance Committee meeting “because with our full council meeting, it’s mainly on city finance and budget.”

The council is also set to hold an executive session — closed to the public — starting at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday to discuss collective bargaining strategy.

This meeting will be broadcast virtually using the Zoom meeting platform. To view or listen to this Edmonds City Council Meeting, paste the following into a web browser using a computer or smart phone: https://zoom.us/j/95798484261.
Or join by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782 Webinar ID: 957 9848 4261

You can provide audience comments using a computer or smart phone by raising a virtual hand to be recognized. Those wishing to provide audience comments by dial-up phone are instructed to press *9 to raise a hand. When prompted, press *6 to unmute.

You can see the complete 6:30 meeting agenda here.

27 Replies to “Council Nov. 9 to consider proposal for city office on Hwy 99, hold 2022 budget public hearing”

  1. That is REALLY high rent: almost $41 per square foot is about 75% more than what it should be. Then all a citizen can do is go in and ask questions but only for 4 hours a day. If they want to apply for a permit, pay their utility bills, or actually do anything, they still have to go to City Hall. This is not a good use of taxpayer money.

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  2. I’m curious how this particular location was selected, given other vacant commercial spaces up and down Highway 99 in Edmonds. I think this office would work better if more centrally located in our International District. There it could more effectively serve our Asian community, folks who are too often victims of petty and occasionally not-so-petty crime.

    I hope the City will provide documentation of their site selection process, how they came to choose this location over all others.

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    1. I’m curious, also. This is the sort of thing that should be based on either bids from potential sites, or an open list of several options with cost analysis for each. That sort of process would also include verification that the individuals in the negotiation have no conflicts of interest.

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  3. Instead of shooting from the hip on things like this, maybe a better understanding of the Biden admin infrastructure bill that just passed Friday night would help us with our overall dollar decision making. Jumping into a shopping mall sounds simple, but could end up clever by 1/2. Seems to me that a measured approach to the 2022 budget would give us the time and space needed to figure and pencil some things out.

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  4. Subtract 4 hours of bureaucratic paper pushing, add 20 hours of police, and then this is a good idea for what this community needs most. I’ve elaborated in my comments on the other article about this. Hopefully the council will be looking at this closely (and also not writing it off completely). Something needs to happen but this is not it as presented.

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  5. Roger, the location is right between a Tree that grows money and a Super place to cut budgets. Could help with our budgeting process!!

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  6. What are our needs and priorities? Seems to me that we could use a police substation along the 99 Hwy corridor before we need a part time staffed kiosk. One only needs to read the Police Blotter to see where we have a problem needing a solution. The proposed use of this space seems like a solution looking for a problem to solve.

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  7. The parking at Aurora Marketplace is abysmal already because of the Dollar Store and Safeway and the influx of people for whatever reason to that office would be substantial. The impact to traffic should also be taken into consideration. What is it going to be like when this office opens? And only four hours a day. And isn’t this location out and away from the main part of Edmonds. In my opinion resources would be better served if the location was closer to the heart of Edmonds.

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  8. Insanity…that would be the last on my agenda. We need a small cop shop there. That would be a fabulous and needed location. Especially when they add a low rent apartment complex by that church..

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  9. Matthew, really good point. There are likely many things in the Infrastructure Bill that could be helpful for us to jump on for funding projects that we currently have now money to do. Cantwell had a big push on “at grade crossings” We may find fund to find solutions to the access issue for the west side of the tracks for example. We may also find funds for parking shuttle services to save gas. There are a host of needs that we may well find funding sources in this bill. Great point to take a more calculated approach.

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  10. Matthew, Darrol,

    I agree, this is where a prioritized list of needs pointed towards a vision for our city would be helpful. Otherwise we’ll be going through another set of budgeting discussions trying to figure this out on the fly. Everyone will be trying to fund their pet project whether we need it or not. Let’s for one time be proactive and be ready if the opportunity arises. It’s called strategic planning. Can we get our current elected officials to think that way?

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    1. Hi Jim,
      The city web site has been fixed and the link to the work the Economic Development Commission is no back on the site at the following link: https://www.edmondswa.gov/cms/one.aspx?pageId=17251180

      You will see on the left side a list that has the Strategic Action Plan as one of the choices. When you go to that link you will see some very good background on the work steps that lead to the final product.

      Hope that helps.

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      1. Thank you, Darrol!

        I just skimmed the Strategic Action Plan. Great document! Certainly, a lot of good work and thought went into it. However, it seems like it’s been largely ignored by the city and is now dated (by the report’s own admission on timeframe) and hasn’t been the living document it was intended to be. Opportunity lost, in my opinion.

        My only quibble is that a strategic plan should be linked to a vision. Otherwise, how do you plan if you don’t know where you want to end up?

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  11. Hi Jim, when the city did the Strategic Action Plan it had more than 2000 citizen inputs. It was a product of the City Council, Planning Board and the Economic Development Commission. That plan outlined projects, procedures, and plans that were supported by the citizens, council and staff.

    The biggest single vote was for the establishment of Budgeting by Priorities. Every finance director since the has shown how it could be implemented in Edmonds. The council has hire the guy who made this work very well in Redmond and he has had workshops at several council retreats.

    The implementation of BBP was a key goal supported by the citizens. Moving forward with BBP would go along way to engaging the citizens in the budget planning process. We will alway have less to spend than we would like and we need a process to prioritize our spending. BBP does that!

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  12. Darrol,

    This sounds encouraging. Where can I find this plan because I couldn’t find it on the Edmonds website. When did we stop following this BBP process?

    I’d like to further this conversation off-line if we can.

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    1. Hi Jim, there is a page for the work of the Economic Development Commission. With a recent update to the page all of the docs are missing but they are working on restoring the page. When that happens I will post it on this thread if it is still open.

      Jim just ask Teresa to give you my email and we can visit off line.

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  13. I still wonder why the Hughway 99 plan doesn’t include new city facilities that free up space for a potential public private partnership at the current City Hall, Police Station and Fire Station. Granted, this would be a two year project, but why free up space on 99 for more car dealerships (albeit a huge revenue source for the City) when Edmonds can be the catalyst for services at our busiest corridor with substations at Westgate and the Bowl.

    A mixed use building on that huge swath of land in downtown can expand the arts district, increase the ability to add more parking to accommodate new shops and existing shops, and increase the size of the draw of the Bowl. The best part about having a robust downtown is that we can import consumers and keep tax revenues here.

    The public works building close to Highway 99 could be redesigned to accommodate City Offices, and I suspect the City could find ways to purchase property along the Highway 99 corridor.

    I am sure the current staff has looked into this, everytime me and few others on the EDC mentioned the need for the City to put its money where jts mouth is, we got shot down. If the City needs a catalyst and to serve the communities that are on the edges of the City, why not look at a bold move versus a retail storefront…

    None the less, a well staffed police substation could make a difference along the Highway 99 corridor.

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  14. George,

    I like the idea. This is where if we develop a true vision for our city it would help vet this idea.

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  15. My Edmonds News has reported that Council President Susan Paine said Sunday via email that she didn’t schedule a Finance Committee meeting “because with our full council meeting, it’s mainly on city finance and budget.”

    Council Presidents don’t schedule Committee meetings.

    City Code is very clear that the Finance Committee is a “standing” committee and that regular meetings of the city council standing committees SHALL be held on the second Tuesday of every month. The Finance Committee shall commence at 6:00 p.m. and end at 7:30 p.m. Tonight’s 6:30 pm Special Meeting is in conflict with our City Code.

    Council President Susan Paine could have cancelled tonight’s standing Finance Committee meeting if any of the codified reasons for cancelling a meeting applied to this situation. None do.

    I wonder what made Council President Paine think standing committee meetings were subject to her scheduling such. I also wonder what makes her think tonight is a full council meeting. Tonight’s meeting, wrongly scheduled during Finance Committee’s time slot, is a Special Meeting, not a Regular Meeting. Regular Meetings of the Full Council do not take place on the second Tuesday of the month.

    Finance Committee should be reviewing the September Finance Report tonight. This important review had been included on multiple Extended Agendas. Last year, Finance Committee reviewed the September 2020 Quarterly Financial Report on November 12, 2020, more than a month before the 2021 Budget was adopted on December 15, 2020.

    No Notice of Cancellation of the standing Finance Committee Meeting has been posted. ECC 1.04.040 requires this. Cancellation is also not noted on City Council’s Meeting Calendar like cancellation of the March 9, 2021 Public Safety, Personnel & Planning Committee was. And of course, Council President Paine has not represented she cancelled the Finance Committee Meeting. That is all City Code allows her to do.

    I am not sure how Council President Susan Paine will be able to resolve all the issues she has created by acting like she has discretion to schedule or not to schedule standing meetings. What a mess.

    I hope Council President conduct improves.

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  16. We aren’t going to have any of this good bottom up budget by priorities and solving real problems type government until we get rid of the bad top down government we all scream about here; but do nothing about, except vote in a different power block every so often, just achieving different bad top down ideas that serve one special interest group or another instead of everyone.

    What we have in Edmonds is serial bad top down government. The majority of the real power lies with and is granted to the mayor and then we are all amazed and scandalized when he or she uses it liberally. Some mayors are smarter and more devious about it, but they all do it because they can.

    This PR based part-time city office on 99 is just the latest example of stuff coming out of the blue from on high to dazzle and amaze the council and the people with supposed great leadership. We need a system where the people determine the problems and the fixes and a city manager makes it happen. We have authoritarian style government (the mayor tells the council and the citizens to just shut up when they start asking the tough questions) which always seems cheaper and easier in the short run. The long run, maybe not so much.

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  17. My understanding is that a majority of the elected city Council can force the issue to a vote on starting a study of making the change and even implement the change. It is unlikely the current President Council Person would ever allow such a thing to get on the agenda. I suspect two of the apparently newly elected CPs are really shooting for Mayor next election and would not be friendly to the change to Council Manager.

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  18. Adding a bit to my comment above, my personal intention in all of this will be to immediately volunteer to be on any citizen board or commission that is appointed to try to implement the type of changes I’m recommending in Edmonds. Any city council person that starts a push to change to the Council/Manager system will get an immediate call and offer of any help I can render. When things aren’t working for you, you have to try something different or you are just plain crazy or not too bright and perhaps deserve what you get, assuming you know better.

    We need five or seven full-time City Council People who have actual policy implementation clout; holding routine meetings with their own constituents in their own parts of the city; who tell a competent appointed executive what we truly need and want as a viable and growing city. If the executive delivers; he/she stays, if not; he/she goes at any given time, not just at election time. This should at least get much of the partisan political opportunism out of the equation, if nothing else. One mayor wants to solve all the region”s transportation issues and the next one wants to become the next state Governor or Senator. People run for city council, hoping to become the next Mayor, where the real power is. What WE need is an executive that wants to run a medium size town on the fair and square as economically as possible.

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