Bellingham City Council

Action Taken at November 8, 2021 Meeting

Mayor’s Report
Blake Lyon has been hired as the city’s new planning director, his employment will begin on 3/1/2022. He has 20 years of experience in local government; he is currently the director of building services and code enforcement in Florida. Tara Sundin will remain acting director through the end of the year, after which Kurt Nabbefeld and Gregory Aucutt will take over this role. Police Chief Flo Simon will not retire until June 2022. The search for a replacement will commence in January 2022, with the goal of having the position filled in six months. IT Director Marty Mulholland is retiring after 18 years. The search for her replacement is in process, and Scott Elsner will take over responsibilities in the interim.

Shall the council:
206. Authorize the mayor to hire the law office of Anne Seidel to assist the city attorney’s office in the Kraham matter? I was unable to find out additional information about the Kraham matter. The following was obtained from the Internet: Anne Seidel’s practice is limited to lawyer discipline and legal ethics. She has substantial experience defending lawyers against Washington State Bar Association grievances and in assisting attorneys with ethical dilemmas. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 6-0, Gene Knutson excused.

207. Approve a request for sewer service at 4909 Samish Way? At the 5/23/2011 meeting, vote #94, the council repealed all water and sewer services located outside the city limits. The Growth Management Act allows the expansion of city services into rural areas to protect public health and safety. The Whatcom County Health Department has informed the owners of the residence that the septic system that serves the residence has failed. The single-family residence was constructed in 1964 and is located outside of city limits. It is served with water from the city of Bellingham, and there are existing sewer mains abutting the property. The property owners requested a contract with the city of Bellingham for retail sewer service as allowed under the Bellingham Municipal Code. (AB23159) Approved 6-0, Gene Knutson excused.

208. Authorize the mayor to sign a three-year agreement with Whatcom County and the Port of Bellingham to fund the Small Business Development Center at WWU? Since 2012, the city of Bellingham, Whatcom County and the Port of Bellingham have been funding economic development activities. In 2018 (see the Port Commission meeting on 2/20/2018, vote #27), the port expanded its focus by hiring a director of economic development, two project managers and a communications specialist. To this agreement, the city is contributing $399,247, Port of Bellingham is contributing $1,888,427, Whatcom County is contributing $2,084,322 along with a state grant of $331,881 (subject to state Legislative approval) for a grand total of $4,604,877. Economic development services include but are not limited to business retention, expansion and recruitment; assistance to start-ups; asset and capacity building;  develop training and technology partnerships; maintain the Choose Whatcom website; create and implement countywide strategic planning and vision for economic development for the entire region, and serve on the Economic Development Investment Board. The agreement expires on 12/31/2024. (AB23160) Approved 6-0, Gene Knutson excused.

209. Adopt the budget recommendations of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee? The Lodging Tax Advisory Committee voted at their 10/26/2021 meeting to make the following recommendations. They recommend $1,498,930 in expenditures, an additional $905,448 undesignated, and $200,000 be held in reserves. Per state law, $254,819 is allocated to Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism. The City Council cannot change the funding amount or add new recipients or programs to the list, but can decline approval of a line item in its entirety. (AB23161) Approved 5-0-1, Daniel Hammill abstained, Gene Knutson excused.

210. Set the times and dates for 2021 regular council meetings? Twenty-four meetings are scheduled, the same as 2021. Meeting time will be 7:00 p.m. Robert’s Rules of Order are to be used unless otherwise provided by Charter. AB23163 (Resolution 2021-29) Gene Knutson excused.

211. Appropriate $3,983,207 for goods and services checks issued from October 15 to October 21, 2021? (AB23165) Approved 6-0, Gene Knutson excused.

212. Appropriate $3,771,960 for payroll checks issued from October 1 through October 15, 2021? (AB23166) Approved 6-0, Gene Knutson excused.

213. Amend the agreement with the South Correctional Entity for inmate housing? The original agreement with the Des Moines’ facility was approved at the 3/21/2016 meeting, vote #45. This amendment is adding 3 percent to bed rates and a $35.00 booking fee. Bed rates were $184.00 in 2020/2021 and will increase to $189.52. The 164,000-square-foot facility has a staff of 150 full-time positions and the capacity to house 813 inmates. This agreement amends the city’s contractual relationship with SCORE for the purpose of booking and holding inmates when the city is not able to use the Whatcom County jail. The mental health residential beds are $159 and mental health acute beds are $278. Rate increases become effective 1/1/2022. All other terms and conditions of the original agreement remain unchanged. (AB23167) Approved 6-0, Gene Knutson excused.

214. Authorize the mayor and police chief to renew a one-year agreement with the Bellingham Housing Authority for police services? A drug and crime prevention program has been in place since 2000; the housing authority will pay the city up to $136,938 in 12 payments and provide office space for a drug and crime prevention officer to work directly with staff and residents of housing authority properties and surrounding neighborhoods. The officer will provide both law enforcement and crime prevention services, such as setting up block watch meetings, coordinating with the police department crime prevention units in targeted neighborhoods, working to locate drug dealers and providing counseling to juveniles at risk of drug involvement, doing a weekly inspection of multifamily developments and filing monthly reports with the housing authority and an annual report with the city. This agreement runs from 1/14/2022 through 1/13/2023; it continues an ongoing program and may be extended. (AB23168) Approved 6-0, Gene Knutson excused.

215. Renew the Olympic pipeline franchise agreement? The agreement is for an additional 10-year period on the same terms and conditions? The Olympic Pipe Line Company LLC maintains a liquid petroleum pipeline within city rights-of-way and public property pursuant to its franchise agreement with the city. The current franchise was approved at the 11/7/2011 meeting, vote #230, and expires on 11/14/2021. The Olympic Pipe Line Co. pays a franchise fee, the 2021 fee is $74,157. AB23026 (Ordinance 2021-11-045) Approved 6-0, Gene Knutson excused.

216. Amend the 2021-2022 biennial budget to ensure the city can meet its Sportsplex debt obligation? This vote authorizes the transfer of $278,580 from the general fund to the Sportsplex acquisition fund to provide for a 12/1/2021 debt payment. At the 1/26/2004 meeting, vote #15, the counci1 authorized the sale of 25-year obligation bonds to finance the Sportplex purchase, and, at the 2/23/2004 meeting, vote #40, authorized the payment of $4,315,000 for the purchase. The city leases the facility to Whatcom Sports & Recreation, with revenues from the lease paying the bond payments. Due to the impacts of Covid-19 and related restrictions, the Whatcom Sports & Recreation has been unable to make lease payments for a second time and is in default. At the 11/23/2020 meeting, vote #221, the council voted to make the $237,194 debt payment. AB23144 (Ordinance 2021-11-046) Approved 6-0, Gene Knutson excused.

217. Establish the property tax levy for 2022? (Public hearing held at October 11 meeting.) State law requires the city to pass an ordinance stating its intent to increase property taxes. The ordinance must be delivered to the Whatcom County Council by November 30. State law limits the increase of property tax to the lessor of one percent or inflation, as measured by the implicit price deflator. The total 2021 levy is $25,534,745. A one-percent increase in the property tax levy, exclusive of the affordable housing levy, will generate an additional $255,347 of revenue in 2022. Revenue from new construction is anticipated to provide an additional $480,713, resulting in a 2022 levy of $26,257,476. There are four main components that make up the city’s property tax levy: the general fund ($16,766,079), the pension fund ($2,713,233), Greenways ($5,445,164) and housing levies ($2,667,000). AB23125 (Ordinance 2021-11-047)Approved 6-0, Gene Knutson excused.

218. Extend the moratorium on development applications and permits for redevelopment of existing mobile home or manufactured home parks? At the 6/3/2019 meeting, vote #114, the council adopted an emergency ordinance establishing a one-year moratorium on the acceptance or processing of development applications or permits relating to the redevelopment of any of the ten mobile home parks in Bellingham. Previous extensions: 5/18/2020 meeting, vote #75; 11/9/202 meeting, vote 202; 5/10/2121 meeting, vote #87. These parks, and the units they contain totaling about 900 spaces, are some of the most affordable housing in the city. Therefore, it is appropriate to try to preserve all of them. Goals and policies identified in the amendment encourage the preservation of existing manufactured home parks to ensure their continued provision of affordable housing. An additional six-month extension of the moratorium is necessary to allow completion of a review of potential preservation options. AB23146 (Ordinance 2021-11-048) Approved 6-0, Gene Knutson excused.

Action Taken at November 22, 2021 Meeting

Mayor’s Report
Mayor Fleetwood spoke about the recent flooding in the region, cleanup continues and the extent of damage is not yet known. The city roads, sidewalks, and buildings came out pretty well, but Revere and 19th street will require a new bridge and others are being looked into. The mayor offered his sincerest condolences to the friends and family of 49 year old Everson resident, Jose Garcia, who was swept away during last week’s flood.

Shall the council:
219. Spend $312,500 to purchase of the 0.29-acre Mahal property located at 8 Shorewood Drive in Bellingham? Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.

220. Appropriate $4,717,566 for payroll checks issued from October 22, 2021 through November 4, 2021? (AB23176/23177) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused. 

221. Appropriate $3,821,162 for goods and services checks issued from October 16 through October 31, 2021? (AB23178) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.

222. Exempt qualifying nonprofit cinemas from the admissions tax? The tax was established in 1981; at the 1/11/2016 meeting, vote #10, it was expanded to venues featuring paid live music in the downtown and Fairhaven entertainment districts. This vote exempts qualifying non-profit cinemas from the admissions tax. Qualifying cinemas are those nonprofit cinemas exclusively engaged in or devoted to any religious, charitable, scientific, literary, educational, public or other like work. The admissions tax is a 5 percent tax levied on admission charges to an event or establishment, collected for the city by the business charging the admission, similar to the sales tax. City code currently exempts most non-profit activities from the tax, except for non-college athletic games, circuses, and stage shows. The finance department estimates this change will reduce general fund revenues by $30,000 to $40,000 under normal economic activity levels. AB23164 (Ordinance 2021-11-049) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill excused.  


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