Edmonds City Council set to tackle budget challenges in special Monday meeting

Councilmember Will Chen

The Edmonds City Council has scheduled a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20 to consider additional council amendments to the draft 2024 budget and also to hear staff-proposed changes.

Edmonds faces an ending budget fund balance of $6.64 million this year, requiring the city to dip into its reserves. The city council earlier this month approved a resolution declaring a fiscal emergency and authorizing the city to use general fund operating reserves for 2023 general fund expenses.

One of the amendments being offered Monday — from Councilmember Will Chen — asks Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson and his administration “to find ways to strategically reduce expenditures by $4 million,” which is 7% of proposed expenses for 2024.

Chen is also proposing using $2 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to establish an Edmonds Police Department substation at the site of the former 7-Eleven store on Highway 99 and 238th Street Southwest.

Councilmember Jenna Nand, meanwhile, has proposed allocating $250,000 of the city’s ARPA funds  to disperse $5,000 grants to qualifying small businesses.

Meanwhile, city staff are also scheduled to offer their own changes to the budget, although the specifics are not listed as part of the council agenda released on Friday.

The meeting agenda includes a memo — signed by all seven of the city’s department directors — stating that a public discussion “of deep cuts to staff is cause for concern for the long-term morale of city staff, threatens retention and will hamper the provision of effective services to our residents.”

The current draft 2024 budget, “with the spending cuts already made by council, is balanced and provides city staff with predictability needed to operate effectively,” the directors’ memo added.

“We need to enter 2024 on stable ground,” the memo said. “By doing so, we can begin work immediately, and collaboratively, to identify solutions to the structural problems we have ahead of us in 2025 and beyond.”

The memo requests that the council amend the 2023 budget to bring $6.5 million of remaining ARPA funds into the general fund and also requests that the council initiate a red-light camera study. The council last week passed a motion by Councilmember Dave Teitzel to reject a pilot project to install red-light cameras at some Edmonds intersections. Teitzel said that more research is needed to demonstrate the benefits of such cameras in Edmonds

The department directors signing the memo include Public Works and Utilities Director Oscar Antillon; Police Chief Michelle Bennett; Parks, Recreation and Human Services Director Angie Feser; Human Resources Director Jessica Neill Hoyson; Planning and Development Director Susan McLaughlin and Director of Community Services and Economic Development Todd Tatum.

Monday’s meeting will be in the council chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N. Those who want to attend remotely can use the Zoom meeting link: https://zoom.us/j/95798484261. Or comment by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782 Webinar ID: 957 9848 4261.

You can see the complete agenda here.

The council will also hold a regular business meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 21, starting at 7 p.m.



  1. With a “fiscal emergency” why is purchasing the land at Highway 99 even on the table? It’s like a family who can’t afford their light bill buying recreational property. Completely irresponsible! And please don’t try and convince us that the red light cameras aren’t meant to be revenue generators when the staff’s recommation to adopt comes in the same budget memo. I have friends who refuse to go to Lynnwood because of those red light cameras. Let’s not add that stigma to Edmonds.

    1. I really like the idea of a police substation in the prior 7-11 property on 99 and 238th. There is too much crime in this area and safety is a real concern. The neighborhood branch by Safeway hasn’t helped.
      I really do not like the purchase of the Landmark property. I agree with Catherine’s and other’s well stated comments. Is anyone listening?

  2. It’s completely reasonable that there has to be some budget cuts because the city finds itself in a financial crisis.CM Chen’s proposed 7% reduction is a practical measured solution to get this city back on solid footing. Further, his proposal to use $2 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to establish an Edmonds Police Department substation at the site of the former 7-Eleven store on Highway 99 is timely and equitable. It is now time for the City of Edmonds to sober up from its financial mismanagement up by taking these actions.

  3. How is it possible we choose to keep a government system where a lame duck Mayor just decides to go AWOL, with pay apparently , throwing his staff to their own devices to essentially beg for their survival? This signed memo is a cry for help from these folks and we need to help them. I suggest the City Council immediately ask Mike Nelson to resign with pay and benefits granted until the official date his successor takes over. I also request that Mayor Elect, Mike Rosen be allowed to assume his duties immediately, on a volunteer basis, to head off this crisis in governance as soon as possible.

    1. I was wondering as well how the Mayoral transition takes place. Maybe Mayor elect Rosen can chime in on how the transition planning is going. I was surprised to see Mayor elect Rosen, Former Mayor Earling, Representative Strom Peterson at the Veterans event, but not Mayor Nelson. My hats off to Strom and Maria for their continued efforts to support the Veteran community in Edminds and our region.

      Maybe a joint press conference between Nelson and Rosen would help the Citizens know how things are going.

  4. Let me add a point of clarification to this article. Based on the latest monthly financial report, our actual ending fund balance for 2023 will be closer to $3M, not $6.64M. We’re deeper in the hole than what was originally portrayed in the mayor’s proposed budget.

  5. 7% sounds like a reasonable start. Need to cut the fat at the top department directors would be my pick I bet we wouldn’t even miss them I hear complaints about not having time to get work done well I can understand when a ever growing list of new proposals get put in front like the landmark property and the 20 mile path and the mini city hall to many bouncing balls to focus on the basics. We need staff to be managers not activist looking for things to pad their resumes.

  6. Remember the Connector Rally? Council responded to all the pitchforks (RA) and signs. Remember all the kids and folks showing up with jars of contaminates relating to crumb rubber? Council “halted” all new crumb rubber installations temporarily. They agreed to revise crumb rubber when the national study was complete. Whatever happened to that work? Study is done.

    Now we have a budget issue. We spent more than we took in and had to use reserves to pay the bill. The data now show band aids will not do the job. Inflation is impacting all of us including the city budget. Are there estimates on what the Police Union contract will create for added expenses for 2024? We have already added to the labor costs due to inflation. These added police labor expenses will need to be accounted for in the 2024 budget.

    Unfortunately, the public will not see any of the new budget amendments until they are presented to council. So how can we provide public input? Please council, make sure the public knows what is proposed and has the opportunity to comment.

    Data points: If we need $1m of labor savings it would require laying off 8-9 people. If we want $1m of new property tax revenue that would be $70 for a $1m home. We need way more than $1m. Do the math.

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