Council June 4 to hold study session on fire service options, business meeting on accessory dwelling units, Landmark

The revised side-by-side comparison of fire service options. (Courtesy City of Edmonds)

This story has been updated to add the Landmark 99 agenda item

The Edmonds City Council will be considering three topics with major implications during meetings Tuesday, June 4: First, during a special 5:30 p.m. work session, the council will have further discussion regarding how the City of Edmonds should receive fire and emergency medical services (EMS). Second, during its 7 p.m. regular business meeting, the council will revisit a proposal to amend city code related to accessory dwelling units (ADUs). And third, also during the business meeting the council will discuss financing options and developer negotiations for the purchase of the Landmark 99 property.

The first item comes after the city council on May 28 voted 4-3 to delay a resolution directing the city to begin negotiating terms of annexation into the South County Fire Regional Fire Authority. Instead, the council agreed to hold a work session to further discuss the implications of the draft resolution, which expresses the city’s intent to proceed with RFA annexation. (The council did, however, pass a related resolution, which identifies joining the RFA as the preferred alternative for Edmonds.

The council’s debate about fire and emergency medical services (EMS) comes as costs continues to increase under the city’s current contract with the RFA, also known as South County Fire. In late 2023, the city received notice that South County Fire intends to terminate its current 20-year contract with Edmonds, effective Dec. 31, 2025. (Read more background on this in our previous story here.)

In response, Edmonds retained consulting firm Fitch and Associates to analyze its options. In its report discussed during the Edmonds council committee meeting May 14, Fitch outlined three alternatives: annex into the RFA, contract with the Shoreline Fire Department for services or restart Edmonds’ own fire department. (Edmonds disbanded its fire department in 2009 when the city began contracting for fire services.) The Fitch analysis compared costs, benefits, implementation tasks and timelines, and pros and cons.

Among the issues to be discussed during Tuesday’s work session are revisions that Fitch made to its report in late May at the council’s request. The original Fitch report assumed the city would need to procure all new apparatus and equipment, estimating an initial capital investment of $6,751,000. “This investment would contribute to total annual debt service estimated at $2.2 million per year…and suggested a timeline for delivery of new equipment that could take 36 months,” the council agenda memo for the June 4 meeting stated. However, on May 28 Fitch provided additional analysis of equipment costs, based on an amended fire services contract, approved in 2017. That amended contract states that “like assets purchased by and transferred to the [South County Fire] District as part of the agreement shall be purchased by the city” at fair market value. This includes all rolling stock and equipment in use at the fire stations at the time of acquisition.

“The revised (equipment buyback) analysis indicates an estimated initial capital investment of $3,375,500, a reduction in equipment-related debt service from $811,749 to $405,875, and the timeline for acquiring that equipment would be immediate, upon contract termination,” the council agenda memo added. “Assuming the apparatus and equipment are halfway through their 10-year useful life, Fitch indicated this equipment would need replacement within five years, and suggested options of a pay-as-you-go or establishing a replacement fund.”

Based on this new information, council staff has modified the side-by-side comparisions of fire service options. (See chart above.)

No decision on fire service options is scheduled during the 5:30 p.m. work session, which will be in the third-floor Brackett Room of Edmonds City Hall, 121 5th Ave. N. You can watch that meeting via Zoom at this link: https://zoom.us/j/95798484261. Or join by phone: US: +1 253 215 8782. The webinar ID is 957 9848 4261. You can see the complete agenda for that meeting here.

During the 7 p.m. business meeting, the council will continue its discussion of proposed updates to Edmonds City Code that would allow detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs) citywide. Several people testified during a May 21 public hearing on the code changes, which were recommended by city staff and the Edmonds Planning Board.

The draft DADU recommendations — approved by the planning board April 24 — are being considered as part of the city’s 2024 Comprehensive Plan update. The City of Edmonds currently only allows attached ADUs, but under new state legislation — House Bill 1337 — it must allow up to two ADUS per lot (attached or detached) by June 2025. The city has been moving to implement the regulations sooner so that they can be included as part of the Comprehensive Plan update.

Regarding Landmark, the council agenda memo noted that if the council decides to proceed with the purchase, it would require the city and/or its assignees to place $1 million in earnest money down on the property by March 31, 2025, and close on the $37 million property no later than Sept.30, 2025.

“The means to finance such a large acquisition, and the various possible deal structures may not be intuitive to some,” the agenda memo stated. “And the council may want to understand the financing options that would be available to the city before it authorizes spending on additional due diligence activities.”

Marc Greenough of Foster Garvey, the city’s bond counsel, will give a high-level presentation on this subject and take questions. He will be joined by Scott Bauer of NW Municipal Advisors, who will speak to rates that would likely apply in various financing scenarios.

The council business meeting will also include the following presentations:
– LGBTQ+ Pride Month proclamation
– A resolution recognizing Ride Transit Month
– Edmonds Youth Commission annual presentation and senior recognition.

The 7 p.m. meeting will be in the council chambers, Public Safety Complex, 250 5th Ave. N., Edmonds. You can attend virtually via this Zoom meeting link: https://zoom.us/j/95798484261 or by phone: +1 253 215 8782. The webinar ID is 957 9848 4261. Or view the meeting live on the Council Meeting webpage (where you can see the complete agenda), or on Comcast channel 21 and Ziply channel 39.

 

  1. A side-by-side comparison has a column for each option, and rows for each kind of information. The same information is provided for each option (each column).
    For example, a side-by-side comparison of fire options would provide the operations and personnel costs for each of the three options in one row, along with the debt service costs of each of the options in another row.
    For each option, costs would be reported for County 911, LEOFF1, and OPEB liabilities in three other rows.

    The three-column graphic at the top of this article is not a side-by-side comparison.

  2. So… we continue to talk about Landmark as if we have funding for that, but cannot seem to take into account the immediate financial needs of the city for something as critical as fire and EMS services. Interesting…

  3. Just read the 13 page White Paper written all about possibilities for Edmonds future. Have not read anything referring to it but found it very informative.

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