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This week in the budget; Reminder: Neighborhood Street Fund Applications Open through November 19; Funding to Reduce Flooding in D1; Salmon Returning; Status Report on Developer Impact Fees to Augment Transportation Funding; Seattle Police Officer’s Guild contract

This week in the budget

This week the Budget Committee met on Wednesday to vote on the balancing package proposed by Chair Bagshaw.

The committee also voted on items brought forward by Councilmembers to amend the balancing package, with corresponding reductions to balance the budget.

New items I proposed that the Council approved included:

  • Concord Elementary: $60,000 in funding for the Community Learning Center
  • RV Remediation Funding
  • Citizenship Program funding for Neighborhood House at High Point
  • My resolution to resolve the uncertainty created by the “Mutual Offsetting Benefit Leases” held by the Greenwood and Central Area Senior Centers and Byrd Barr
  • Utility Discount Program Statement of Legislative Intent to address enrollment barriers
  • Funding to help address unforeseen construction costs at Town Hall

Below are my items that were included in the budget balancing package developed by Budget Committee Chair Bagshaw. These items were also approved as part of the “Consent Package.”

District 1 Specific Proposals:

Citywide proposals:

 

Reminder: Neighborhood Street Fund Applications Open through November 19

Applications for the 2019 Neighborhood Street Fund are open through November 19th.

The Neighborhood Street Fund provides funding every three years for community-driven transportation-related improvement in the city’s right-of-way with an anticipated cost between $100,000 and $1 million. Anyone can apply. Funding comes from the 2015 Move Seattle Levy; $8 million is available for this cycle.  Applications are open through Monday, November 19. I have asked SDOT for a two-week extension of the application period.

The application has been simplified, and takes about 15 minutes, and requires a specific location and proposed solution. Application forms and materials are also available in Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese, Amharic, and Tigrinya. Thanks to SDOT for doing this.

In January and February there will be public meetings to rank proposed projects, and narrow the number of projects in each district. A public vote will take place after that.

Additional information is available at the Neighborhood Street Fund website, which includes applications in several languages. If you have questions, additional translated material, or need help with accessing the application, please contact nsf@seattle.gov or 206-733-9361.

Projects awarded in the 2016 cycle include safety improvements at Harbor Avenue SW and SW Spokane Street, and walkway, lighting and safety improvements on 25th and 26th Ave. SW, connecting Chief Sealth High School and Westwood Village.

 

Funding to Reduce Flooding in D1

One of my ancillary duties as a Councilmember is to represent Seattle on a several different regional committees – three specific committees that I sit on are the Regional Water Quality Committee (RWQC), the Flood Control District (FCD) Advisory Committee, and Watershed Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 9. All three of the committees work on issues related to water quality, flooding, and salmon habitat restoration. Much like the City, these committees and the County are finalizing their budgets, and I wanted to share some great news with you.

I, with the help of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), requested $14.9 million to be added to the 2019 FCD Capital Improvement Program budget for two high priority urban flood control projects in District 1. The two projects are: $13.1 million for the South Park Drainage Conveyance Improvement Project and $1.8 million for the Puget Way Culvert Replacement Project.

The South Park Drainage Conveyance Improvement Project will address a problem that has been of particular importance to constituents. This funding will allow SPU to construct a system of pipes to manage stormwater and will eventually connect to the South Park Pump Station (another project I’ve been working with SPU to get funded). In addition to providing a system to manage the stormwater this project will pave many of the streets, and specifically South Monroe will be paved which will help the businesses and residents of the area.

The Puget Way Culvert Replacement Project will reduce flooding impacts to West Marginal Way and Puget Way. Flooding caused by undersized culverts has damaged one of the warehouses along West Marginal Way and also caused lane closures to the street. Additionally, Puget Way is the only road access for 12 residents and if a culvert failure were to occur it would cut off access to these homes and prevent emergency services from rendering assistance.

 

Salmon Returning

Many of you may have already heard the great news, but for the first time in eight years SPU staff observed a pair of Chinook salmon spawning in Thornton Creek. SPU has been working on restoring much of this creek, and in 2014 completed the Thornton Creek Confluence project where SPU replaced 1,000 feet of streambed to keep in place high-quality gravel for spawning salmon.

In addition to this great news, I want to share with you the annual Salmon in the Schools report. A big thanks to Judy Pickens for her work with Salmon in the Schools. Here are a few highlights from this year:

  • Supported 54 salmon-release field trips – 23 in partnership with the Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project, 14 with the Fauntleroy Watershed Council, and 17 elsewhere in the city.
  • Helped 11 schools with transportation costs for release field trips.
  • 7 in-class salmon dissections at participating West Seattle schools and 29 more during field trips to Piper’s Creek.
  • More than 101 visits to schools and responded to 1,800 email requests about tank set-up and maintenance.

 

Status Report on Developer Impact Fees to Augment Transportation Funding

Impact fees are authorized fees by Washington State law to allow local jurisdictions to charge developers to address the needs for capacity improvements to transportation, parks, schools, and fire facilities. Local jurisdictions are only allowed to charge to address the impacts associated with growth. Impact fees cannot be used to pay for infrastructure needs that are backlogged.

In 2015, the City Council began to take steps towards developing an impact fee program. In 2015, the Council recommended a work program for: (1) development of an impact fee program for parks and transportation and (2) exploration with the Seattle School District of a program for public schools.

In 2017, through Resolution 31732, the Council docketed consideration of Comprehensive Plan amendments for impact fees. It is a long, arduous but necessary process. Myself and Councilmembers O’Brien and Bagshaw wrote about our commitment to this effort here.

This year the Council issued an Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed amendment to the Comprehensive Plan establishing a list of projects, for which capacity improvements are needed to accommodate growth.

From the Council Central Staff analysis: “Establishing the list in the Comprehensive Plan is a necessary, but not sufficient, step towards implementing an impact fee program. The Council and Mayor would need to approve future legislation establishing substantive and procedural requirements of an impact fee program.”

We’d planned to, in December 2018, consider 2018 Comprehensive Plan amendments for a transportation impact fee program.

After passage, then from December 2018 to February 2019 the City Council would continue analysis and development of a potential impact fee rate schedule, development of options for credits based on planning geography, and legislation drafting.

Finally, the Council had planned from March to April 2019 to consider legislation implementing a transportation impact fee program.

The Environmental Impact Statement required for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment resulted in a Determination of Environmental Insignificance (DEIS). This triggered a statutorily required appeal process. Thursday, November 15 was the deadline to appeal. On Wednesday, November 14, two appeals were filed to oppose the Transportation Impact Fee Comp Plan amendment, which actually is a purely procedural decision.

One appeal was from Roger Valdez representing Seattle For Growth and the other was from land use attorney Jack McCullough.

The appeal means that we are unable to act in December as planned, but let’s see what the Hearing Examiner has in store for us.

Yesterday the Seattle Planning Commission sent the Seattle City Council its recommendations. They said:

“The Commission supports adoption of the proposed amendment enabling the potential development of a transportation impact fee program. We recommend approval of the proposed transportation project list as an appropriate representation of investments needed to implement the current Capital Improvement Program, the adopted transportation modal plans, and projects identified through the Move Seattle levy planning process that are not funded by the current levy. The Planning Commission recommends adding replacement of the 4th Avenue S. viaduct to the transportation impact fees project list. We look forward to providing input on the policy implications, including the cumulative effects of a transportation impact fee program with Mandatory Housing Affordability requirements, and the particulars of any proposed impact fee program”

I think that the Seattle Planning Commission’s recommendations include a very good assessment of yet another balancing act that the City Council has to do.

Read more here: http://www.seattle.gov/council/issues/impact-fees

 

Seattle Police Officer’s Guild contract

The collective bargaining agreement between the City of Seattle and the Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG) through 2020 covers wages, hours and working conditions. The City Council voted to approve the agreement by an 8-1. I voted in favor.

With this vote, Seattle police officers will see an accumulated 17% pay increase, and back pay for salary increases. The legislation appropriates $65 million for three years of accumulated officer increased back pay.  This means that the salary increases included in the contract will be given to the officers for the 3 years that they didn’t have a contract.  In addition to the back pay, total spending for salaries will increase by $40 million in 2019, and $50 million in 2020, as noted in the fiscal note.

In the interest of transparency, I moved to add a Clerk File to the legislative record that includes the Memoranda of Understanding and Memoranda of Agreement that are incorporated into the agreement, but were not provided in the legislation sent to the Council by the Mayor. They are now publicly available.

Negotiations on this contract began in 2014, and an agreement was reached in 2016. However, after the Guild membership voted “no” (a summary of the agreement was leaked), the two sides returned to the negotiating table. There were a number of factors that made this negotiation more complicated than most, principally due to the intersection of police accountability issues and working conditions.  It’s also important to understand that all labor contracts must be voted up or down. They cannot be amended by the Council, unlike other legislation.

First of all, the City of Seattle and the Department of Justice entered into a Consent Decree and MOU in 2012 after the DOJ found excessive use of force in 2011 in response to a 2010 request letter from a number of community groups. As part of this process, in 2017 the Council adopted the accountability ordinance. In addition, former Mayor Murray ordered the use of body-worn cameras. Then in June of this 2018, the Janus decision by the US Supreme Court overturned 40 years of precedent regarding union dues for public employees. In this new environment, public sector unions must show value to their members.

In addition, while the contact adopted by the Council in 2017 for the Seattle Police Management Association (which represents captains and lieutenants) included a provision that said “the City may implement the Accountability Ordinance,” the SPOG contract didn’t include a similar provision, so understanding the practical impact required a more detailed analysis of the 96-page agreement.

I have heard from numerous supporters and opponents of this agreement, and I’d like to say a few things to each of you.

To supporters, I want to be sure you know that opponents of this contract were very clear that they support the wage increases for officers included in the agreement. I didn’t hear a single person speak against the long overdue wage increases—in fact, many who spoke against the agreement explicitly advocated for approving salary increases. Their concerns were about implementation of the police accountability legislation.

To opponents, I’d like to you know SPOG could have challenged the inclusion of the accountability ordinance and body cameras in this agreement, because they were not included when bargaining began in 2014. Bargaining rules require that all issues have to be on the table at the beginning of bargaining.  SPOG voluntarily agreed to include these issues, which showed a willingness to collaborate on implementing reform.

While the lack of a contract may not have hindered new officer hires in 2016 and 2017—both years had a record number of hires— it appears to be now in 2018: this is a real issue. I’ve voted to add 112 new officer positions over my time as a Councilmember, and I will vote to add 40 more at Monday’s Full Council budget vote. This contract is a necessary step to filling those positions. I’ve asked SPD about providing incentives for hiring new officers, as other local cities have done.

Finally, officers have played an important role in implementing reform. The court-appointed Federal Monitor issued a Use of Force report in 2017 that credited officers for clear improvements regarding use of force, saying “credit for this major milestone goes first and foremost to the men and women of the Seattle Police Department.”

With the Council’s vote, the agreement is ripe for review by US Judge Robart, who is overseeing implementation of the Consent Decree. On November 5th, he stated he would review it only after a Council vote. In January, he noted that “The court has previously indicated that it will not grant final approval to the City’s new police accountability ordinance until after collective bargaining is complete.” The Council also adopted a resolution requesting review of three items related to police accountability.

I’ve included my remarks at the City Council vote here. It’s a bit long, so I wanted to provide a more concise summary, but also include this for anyone interested in reading it.

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