Letter to the editor: Nov. 16 budget approval timeline should be rejected

Editor:

If the budget is voted on and passed with current councilmembers on Nov. 16, as now scheduled, any move to reconsider it with the inputs of the new councilmember seated in Position 2 on Nov. 23 will be touted as a political move.

On the contrary, it will be the unwinding of one.

While there is no imperative to finish the budget process any earlier than we have in the past (Dec. 5 to Dec 16. these last four years), some think doing so would be a better practice.

It is possible that the Nov. 23 finish the council president previously planned on the extended agenda ― an extended agenda that continues to be advertised on the door of City Hall today― represents that thinking.

The second, more recent change, from Nov. 23 to Nov. 16, represents something else. It shamelessly changes a vote for approving the budget (from a councilmember elected by the people this month to an incumbent appointed two years ago by a 4-2 councilmember vote).

The assertion that the councilmember who prevails in Position 2 (and will be seated on Nov. 23) would be ill-equipped to weigh in on the upcoming budget is nonsensical. These two candidates have had the budget book as long as we have. Both candidates for this seat run businesses with multiple employees and have created and managed budgets of their own. Janelle Cass has also worked in government agencies. Will Chen is an accountant and experienced internal and external auditor!

Perhaps most importantly, both of these candidates spent an enormous amount of time engaging with the public this year; their opinions on how to spend the taxpayers’ money in 2022 is well informed― by the taxpayers themselves.

Choosing and adhering to the Nov. 16 budget finalization date intentionally shuts out the input of the people’s choice. Any budget resulting from this timeline should be rejected.

Respectfully,

Vivian Olson
Councilmember, City of Edmonds

  1. Well said, Councilmember Olsen. Thanks for watching out for us, the citizens of Edmonds. I hope to see more of that from all of Council in the future. The budget finalization date should be the November 23rd date at the earliest.

  2. Vivian, thank you for this. I know Will Chen has studied the budget as well as anyone on the Council, if not more so. I’m sure Janelle Cass is also familiar with it. It’s only fair for which ever one gets elected to have a say in how the city is run doing the first year of their term. They both have earned the trust of the voters.

    1. 100% agree with Councilperson Olsen. The political move isn’t following historical timelines, it is not following historical time lines. On the other hand, I almost wonder if it isn’t political suicide for Mayor Nelson to ram it through with current Council and further separating himself from the will of the people.

      My guess is if this election cycle didn’t send a clear message to him, maybe it will be more clear in his next election cycle.

      With all of that being said, I am glad that this election cycle is over.

    2. I trust the council to pass the budget in a timely fashion. If the current council members feel that the budget is ready to be voted on, why should we wait for the newly elected members to get on board? They will have their input on the next budget. It seems a waste of council time to suspend all business before an election.

  3. I agree with Vivian Olson. The earlier vote seems like a way to ram through a budget that the citizens of Edmonds don’t necessarily want. Waiting one more week makes a lot of sense as the newly elected council can decide how the city will go forward in 2022. What is the rush?

  4. Well stated Councilperson Olson.
    This year’s election shows that the majority of the voting citizens of Edmonds are unhappy with the direction that the Mayor and the Council majority have been taking us. Instead of acknowledging that they are out of step with the wishes of their constituents, and allowing a more representative Council to set the new budget, they have decided to slam the budget they want down our throats.

  5. Thank you CM Olson.
    This is just another blatant political move by the Mayor to ram through a budget while he has an unelected appointee to vote with him as opposed to a CM elected by the people.
    If this last election didn’t give the Mayor and Council President Paine a clear view to how they and their Gang of Four are disliked by the city’s residents, then the next election surely will.
    Many of us are hopeful that this budget, if approved, is repealed and revised once the new CM is seated, and that the full new council next year changes the dysfunctional course the Mayor, AFM and the other Gang of Four CM’s have set.
    Time for a new direction focused on the true needs and wishes of Edmonds citizens, not trying to shoehorn some national agenda down Edmonds throat.

  6. Well said, Vivian! I hope your fellow council members realize it’s time to listen to the citizens of Edmonds.

  7. Speeding up the time table worked so well with the police chief process, I can completely understand why someone would want to do it again, with the budget. (That’s sarcasm, it doesn’t drip so clearly in writing.)

  8. Makes complete sense! Appreciate you voicing what should be a no brainer review! Obvious why the current seated members would be objecting and trying to push it through.

    Thank you for your City Leadership once again Vivian!

  9. Thank you for your letter, CM Olson. And thank you for listening to the citizens. The budget process should not be rushed. Time for transparency.

  10. Rushing through the budget is not in the best interest of local citizens.
    I guess it’s going to come down to who has the votes.

  11. EDMONDS RESIDENTS
    Please call in to the City Council Meeting TONIGHT AT 7 pm.
    We have the POWER to voice our concerns during the Public Hearing! If enough of us call in, we can delay their vote – they will need to extend the Public Hearing to 11/16 meeting. But only if we have enough people.
    The Pack of 4 will not turn back the timeline but we can filibuster them! We need your voice. Please call in or Zoom in tonight!

    https://edmondswa.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=16495016&pageId=17260737

    OR Call 253-215-8782 Meeting ID#95798484261

    I just noticed that the Councils landing page is not updated for tonight’s meeting date – It still says 11/4 as the “next meeting.”
    There was an outdated notice on the front door of City Hall yesterday (original budget schedule that had the budget vote after 11/16, which is Luke’s final night to vote before a newly elected council-member is confirmed and steps into the Position 2.
    Who is in charge of keeping the constituency updated on meetings?
    Ken Reidy called out the outdated Public Notice yesterday. Interestingly enough, there was an updated calendar posted with actual dates today. BUT it is back-dated as having been created on October 15th, which is a complete cover up of the fact that it was never posted in its updated form (the new and current rushed timeline). There is photo proof that the updated calendar was not posted in mid-October. It is also unsigned.
    Why did Council President plan the 2nd (and final) Public Hearing on the 2022 Budget on a non- Council Meeting night? Typically the 2nd Tuesday of the month is a closed meeting when the Finance committee presents to the Council and there was no formal cancellation of the Finance meeting, which is required. Instead CM Paine scheduled the Budget Public Hearing to enable a vote on 11/16. (Luke’s last meeting!!)

    We must pick up the phone & push back against this poor governance.
    MEN is a great place to opine and share your concerns -BUT WE NEED YOUR VOICE IN THE COUNCIL MEETING TONIGHT!! USE YOUR 3 MINUTES!

  12. Thank you for this important letter Councilmember Olson. Is there an official process or motion that can be made to halt the rushed timeline for this budget approval?

  13. Email sent to City Clerk
    Dear City Clerk Passey:

    1.) First, the City Council or a Council Committee shall deliberate and approve a public hearing schedule in an open public meeting. RCW 35A.33.055

    2.) Immediately following the filing of the Mayor’s preliminary final budget with the city clerk, the city clerk shall publish Public Hearing Notice in the official newspaper Everett Herald once a week for two consecutive weeks. RCW 35A.33.060 & ECC 1.03.030

    3.) Edmonds City Code requires posting of the Public Hearing Notice in three places Edmonds Public Safety Complex, Edmonds City Hall and Edmonds Public Library ECC 1.03.020 (A)(B)(C)

    On Sunday, November 7th, 2021 at 7:18 AM posted on the front door of Edmonds City Hall located at 250 Fifth Ave, Edmonds WA 98020 was the Public Hearing Notice signed by you October 8th, 2021. The schedule as outlined included: Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021- Council Deliberations and Adoption of 2022 City Budget and Tuesday, December 7th, 2021- Adoption (if necessary).

    Sometime on November 8th, 2021, a new unsigned Public Hearing Notice was posted on the City Hall front door. The new Public Hearing Notice does not include the November 23rd, 2021 and December 7th, 2021 Council agenda items. Also the notice incorrectly states that it was posted on October 15th, 2021.

    The posting of this new Public Hearing Notice creates an injury to a public record and therefore your conduct is malfeasance of your duty as a public official. Today, I request that a properly signed with a corrected posting date of the Public Hearing Notice for 2022 City Budget be done and posted as required by City Code and State law.

    Please email me a copy with your corrections.

    1. City Clerk Passey’s shared his responses in bold below:

      First, the City Council or a Council Committee shall deliberate and approve a public hearing schedule in an open public meeting. RCW 35A.33.055

      Immediately following the filing of the Mayor’s preliminary final budget with the city clerk, the city clerk shall publish Public Hearing Notice in the official newspaper Everett Herald once a week for two consecutive weeks. RCW 35A.33.060 & ECC 1.03.030 The original public hearing notice outlining the annual budget schedule and public hearings was published in the paper on Oct. 8 and posted on Oct. 8. This notice only published one time, on Oct. 8. When the decision was made to update the budget schedule and hearings, the updated notice was republished in the Everett Herald on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 (notices attached) per RCW 35A.33.060 (attached). To my knowledge, this is the controlling statute regarding public hearing notice on the annual budget.

      Edmonds City Code requires posting of the Public Hearing Notice in three places Edmonds Public Safety Complex, Edmonds City Hall and Edmonds Public Library ECC 1.03.020 (A)(B)(C)

      Edmonds City Code provides as follows:

      1.03.010 Designation of official newspaper.
      The Everett Herald is hereby designated as the city’s official newspaper for the purpose of publishing ordinances and notices required by law to be published. [Ord. 2511, 1985].

      1.03.020 Posting of notices.
      Where allowed by law, the posting of notices required to be posted by any provision of this code or any applicable state law shall be at the following three public places, all of which are hereby designated as the official posting places for city notices:

      A. Public bulletin board in the Edmonds Public Safety Complex, 250 Fifth Avenue North, Edmonds, Washington, 98020;
      B. Public bulletin board in the Edmonds Public Library, 650 Main Street, Edmonds, Washington, 98020; and
      C. Public bulletin board, Edmonds City Hall, 121 Fifth Avenue North, Edmonds, Washington, 98020. [Ord. 4193 § 1 (Exh. 1), 2020; Ord. 2511, 1985; Ord. 2448, 1984].

      Because the code includes separate, back-to-back sections distinguishing between publication in our newspaper of record and posting of city notices, this indicates to me that we publish one way, and post another. To my knowledge, neither state law nor city code requires posting of public hearing notices on the annual budget. As a courtesy, we post these notices, along with regular and special meeting agendas, at the three locations above.

      On Sunday, November 7th, 2021 at 7:18 AM posted on the front door of Edmonds City Hall located at 250 Fifth Ave, Edmonds WA 98020 was the Public Hearing Notice signed by you October 8th, 2021. The schedule as outlined included: Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021- Council Deliberations and Adoption of 2022 City Budget and Tuesday, December 7th, 2021- Adoption (if necessary).

      Sometime on November 8th, 2021, a new unsigned Public Hearing Notice was posted on the City Hall front door. The new Public Hearing Notice does not include the November 23rd, 2021 and December 7th, 2021 Council agenda items. Also the notice incorrectly states that it was posted on October 15th, 2021. Correct. We reposted the updated public hearing notice as a courtesy but failed to update the posting date, although not required by law because RCW 35A.33.060 controls. Please find attached the notice with the correct posting date.

  14. Please appreciate that City Clerk Scott Passey is representing: “When the decision was made to update the budget schedule and hearings, the updated notice was republished in the Everett Herald on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 per RCW 35A.33.060.”

    I don’t see any discussion of who made the DECISION to update the budget schedule and hearings, or how that decision was made.

    Decisions related to the budget schedule are a big deal.

    Immediately preceding RCW 35A.33.060 in the Revised Code of Washington is RCW 35A.33.055 which concludes as follows:

    Prior to the final hearing on the budget, the legislative body or a committee thereof, shall schedule hearings on the budget or parts thereof, and may require the presence of department heads to give information regarding estimates and programs.

    Please appreciate, only the legislative body or a committee thereof can schedule hearings on the budget or parts thereof. The City Council President is not the legislative body or a committee thereof.

    I wonder when the the legislative body or a committee thereof will schedule hearings on the budget or parts thereof. I believe such may need to be done in an Open Public Meeting.

    I wonder what the significance of last Thursday’s Meeting and tonight’s meeting is? Neither were scheduled by the legislative body of committee thereof.

    This stuff shouldn’t be so confusing. I would hope it would be simple to follow things like RCW 35A.33.055 and do this right.

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