Mayor’s 2023 draft budget includes more police officers, neighborhood improvements

Mayor Mike Nelson speaks during his virtual 2023 budget address Monday night.

Citing Edmonds’ strong financial position, Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson said during his virtual 2023 budget address Monday that it’s time to invest in the city, with proposals that include hiring eight additional police officers, shifting to an in-house city prosecutor and making neighborhood improvements citywide.

Pointing to strong sales tax revenue, a significant city surplus and federal American Rescue Plan Act funding, Nelson said Edmonds is “in a great position to invest in people and our city while maintaining a balanced budget.”

In his budget message, Nelson highlighted three areas of focused spending: “Significant increases” in public safety, improving neighborhoods and providing more investments to the underserved community near Highway 99.

Proposing an “unprecedented increase” in public safety resources, Nelson said that community safety “has always been my number-one priority.” He stressed the importance of not waiting until “crime has reached your doorstep,” and being “ever vigilant in keeping our community safe and welcoming.”

To do this, the mayor is requesting a $3 million investment in the police department, which will include eight additional police officers — five of them to be assigned to a new police patrol district. “We must ensure there is a sufficient police response for our entire city,” Nelson said, “not just parts of it.” Pointing to the growing call volume in specific areas of Edmonds, the new patrol district will help improve police response times citywide, he said.

Of the three remaining new police positions, one would be a community storefront officer assigned to the Highway 99 area “to provide crime prevention and problem-solving support, instead of just crisis response,” the mayor said. The other two positions would be “problem-solving emphasis detectives” who would join two others “to form a more effective unit with a broad range of investigative techniques,” Nelson said. These detectives would focus on proactively deterring and detecting crimes related to gangs, burglaries and thefts.

Nelson also pledged to provide more police equipment, including additional police vehicles and speciality items “to aid in the capture of dangerous felons.”

In addition, the mayor proposed hiring an in-house city prosecutor. The city currently contracts with an outside law firm to provide those services, and that has led to “escalating costs and challenges with oversight of work being performed,” Nelson said.

The mayor’s second area of focus, neighborhood improvements, includes $2.7 million for neighborhood parks. Among the priorities: a permanent restroom and more ADA accessibility at Mathay Ballinger Park and an inclusive playground to accommodate children of all abilities at Yost Park — similar to the one installed at Seaview Park and another planned for the new Civic Park.

Funding is also proposed for plans to enhance trails, bridges, water quality and habitat at Yost Park and Shell Creek, and to expand the park’s beautification program “so our neighborhoods can have more corner parks and hanging flower baskets,” Nelson said.

Noting that city park use has quadrupled since the pandemic, the mayor is also proposing extra money to hire more parks staff and equipment to meet these increasing demands.

Another budget proposal calls for $1 million to secure new open space in the city “so residents in every neighborhood have an opportunity to enjoy green spaces and parks,” Nelson said.

The mayor addressed the concept of prioritizing green streets in his budget message, stating that “the old way of building streets by blanketing them in asphalt and concrete” does nothing to address the climate crisis. “Our future must be built with sustainable materials that work with our natural environment, not paved over,” Nelson said. He proposed setting aside $2 million in federal ARPA funds for such projects.

Also in the category of neighborhood improvements is a “blighted property improvement fund,” which would allocate $250,000 in grants to improve deteriorating or abandoned buildings in neighborhoods citywide. This would include vacant lots and abandoned buildings in derelict or dangerous shape.

In addition, the mayor is proposing the purchase of a fourth snow plow, which he hopes can occur prior to the 2023 budget, so the equipment can be in place in time for this year’s winter storms.

The third area of focus is investments in the Highway 99 corridor. Nelson noted that the city is already spending $10 million on initial Highway 99 renovations, aimed to be completed next spring. These have been in the works since the Edmonds City Council approved a subarea plan for the highway and surrounding neighborhoods in 2017. The changes aim to address traffic and pedestrian safety and livability concerns for the portion of the highway that runs through Edmonds. An additional $4.56 million has been allocated for Highway 99 revitalization for 2023, Nelson said.

These changes “will bring long-overdue investments to our most diverse and most underserved residents,” he said.

The mayor concluded by thanking residents “for helping making Edmonds such a special, wonderful place to live.”

You can watch the video of the mayor’s 2023 budget address here and view the proposed budget here.

The Edmonds City Council is responsible for budget review and approval, which by law must occur by the end of 2022.

— By Teresa Wippel

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Hire a prosecutor with a eye toward equity. Sounds like soft on crime coming to Edmonds. It doesn’t do any good to catch the bad guy if they face no repercussions. This new hire needs to be closely scrutinized before they are hired.

  2. I would assume that a new snow plow for the public works department is in draft budget to also facilitate other projects in the city like the new climate friendly roads. Although I’m under the impression that such budgeting for the city’s public works has been denied and shift to other areas of focus. Also with an increasing vehicle fleet in the city is there money going to help maintain that fleet like hiring additional mechanics? Why was the speech held in front of the police logo and not the city logo, is that foreshadowing of where the mayor’s focus is? This speech seems like what we want to hear and not reality.

  3. How about some sidewalks on south side of 96th Ave West? The kids have to walk in the road or muddy easement around cars or in the street. This is a school street! The wrong side of Edmonds? Up town the new buzzword while other neighborhoods outside the bowl are ignored.

  4. I’d be interested to find out more about construction and maintenance responsibilities if portions of some of our streets are “depaved” under a “green streets” program. Edmonds City Code states the duty, burden, and expense of constructing or repairing a sidewalk shall be upon the property owner directly abutting the sidewalk zone.

    City Code also says it shall be the responsibility of the abutting property owner to maintain, repair and reconstruct adjacent planting strips in an attractive and safe manner, while continuing to provide stormwater management as required.

    Would the abutting property owner have to pay for the depaving, planting trees and ongoing maintenance? How does all of this work? Seems like many details need to be considered.

    Mayor Mike Nelson’s administration has been representing that 77% of our “public space” lies in our streets. I don’t think streets are “public space” because the fee title to the property is almost always owned by the abutting property owner.

    This fee title ownership means the abutting property owners (the fee title owners, aka “servient estate”) have rights and responsibilities different than the “public”.

    1. It was as simple as there being no one date when most CMs were available for it (they were asked) and with that difficulty, deciding it wasn’t a priority. All but one CM had been through the budget process training twice or more, and the one who was new was a CPA, auditor, and business owner, and thus well versed in budgets.

  5. Govt accounting is a mystery to most citizens, but it does not have to be. Our Strategic Action Plan was a product of a yearlong set of public engagements that gathered input from more than 2500 citizens and all the various stakeholders in town. There were several joint public meetings with Council, Planning Board, and Economic Development Commission. In the SAP the most public support was for budget issues. Among them was to implement Budgeting By Priorities. The SAP was approved by Council initially and updated and approved a second time. Council has held several retreats and had extensive training and training on BBP by the former Director of Finance for Redmond. Check out the link below and poke around to see how well and how complete and how Engaging the BBP is for Redmond. It could be the same in Edmonds.

    https://www.redmond.gov/988/Budget-Priorities

    It is our money, we should know where it comes from, where it is going to be spent, and participate in the process. Budgeting By Priorities does just that. It is time, not it is past time, to do the same thing for Edmonds.

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