Action Taken at December 5, 2022 Meeting
Salary Commission Report:
At the 12/6/2021 meeting, vote #230, the City Council created a salary commission to determine compensation for City Council members. Salary Commisssion members served without compensation. The current salary of City Council members is $35,652. At the 8/29/2022 meeting, vote #153, the mayor made seven appointments to the commission. Meetings commenced on 9/14/2022 and concluded in November. A public hearing was held on September 28. The commission set the salary at $67,000 effective 1/1/2023, and it will increase 3 percent on 1/1/2024 and every January 1 thereafter. (AB23554) Nonvoting issue.
Shall the council:
229. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with Whatcom County (amendment #1) for Emergency Medical Services? The agreement was initially approved at the 1/22/2018 meeting, vote #9. The city’s share of the basic life support is $2,090,000. Under the EMS plan that was created and supported by the EMS levy, all fire departments in Whatcom County are eligible to have their EMS dispatch fees paid by the county EMS fund and are eligible to participate in a countywide record management/patient care reporting system. These are services that we are currently providing and have historically provided in the city. In order to take advantage of these benefits, the city needs to enter into an agreement with Whatcom County and the other participating fire agencies. Entering into this agreement will save approximately $160,000 per year in general fund expenses. The effective date is 5/24/2022. (AB23521) Approved 7-0
230. Approve a request for sewer service at 2428 Yew Street Road? The single-family residence was constructed in 1940 and it is located outside the city limits. It is a City of Bellingham water customer and is within the city’s urban growth area. On 8/15/2022, the Whatcom County Health Department reported that the septic system constructed for the residence had failed. Retail sewer service outside city limits is allowed under city code only when the council determines that such service “is necessary to protect basic public health and safety and the environment.” There is an existing sewer main abutting the property, and the sewage from the property can safely discharge into that sewer main. Any future use of the sewer is limited to the existing single-family dwelling. (AB23546) Approved 7-0
231. Authorize the mayor to award the low bid of $1,341,170 to Colacurcio Brothers Construction for F Street Crossing Project? The engineer’s estimate for the base bid was $1,223,557. The project will install safety measures to the rail crossing. The project is one of several rail crossing safety improvements enabling the city to apply for the establishment of the “Waterfront Quiet Zone.” F Street will be the third crossing brought up to quiet zone standards and includes the installation of four gates, an upgraded signal system, and updated signs and markings. At the request of the Port of Bellingham, the project also includes an alternate schedule for installation of conduit for future installation and connection to the port fiber network. The city received two bids: the high bid was $1,717,950. The project is funded through a combination of the city real estate excise tax and a federal grant. (AB23547) Approved 7-0
232. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement establishing Whatcom County as the administrator of the Whatcom Ground-Level Response and Coordinated Engagement (GRACE) Program? Financial assistance from the city has not exceeded $392,000 annually. The GRACE Program is designed to provide services to individuals who frequently use the crisis system and law enforcement responses in ineffective ways. The goals are to reduce first responder calls, emergency department visits, arrests, and jail admissions while improving the health, well-being and stability of these individuals. This is a new agreement; it includes a $35,200 increase in annual funding to support increased staff wages and benefits, while removing separate funding for expanded crisis response planning and design, which has been completed through the agreement currently in place. The agreement runs from 1/1/2023 to 12/31/2024. (AB23548) Approved 7-0
233. Approve the budget for the 2023 Tourism Promotion Area? At the 3/9/2021 meeting, vote #63, the County Council approved the formation of the Tourism Promotion Area and the City Council established it the 4/12/2021 meeting, vote #64. Collections received from qualified businesses in the city and unincorporated Whatcom County are deposited with the City of Bellingham. A guest staying at a qualifying property (a lodging business 40 rooms or greater will pay an additional $3 per room night). The estimated revenue for 2023 is $1.2 million, which shall be spent on tourism promotion within the Bellingham-Whatcom County promotion area, and preparing and implementing a plan for tourism recovery from the impact of the Covid pandemic. (AB23549) Approved 6-0, Daniel Hammill abstained.
234. Approve budget recommendations of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee? The budget total is $2,184,742. At the 10/ 25/2022 meeting, the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee met to review and make recommendations on 2023 expenditures. The committee is recommending the following expenditures for 2023: $84,140 for salaries, ICAP and purchasing; $550,000 for Bellingham Whatcom County tourism; $488,993 for the Mount Baker Theater; $175,049 for the Whatcom Museum of History and Art; $351,561 for tourism promotion grants; as well as $535,000 for assorted projects, $1,701,765 for pending strategic budget planning and a $400,000 reserve. Pursuant to state law, the City Council cannot change the funding amount or add new recipients or programs to the list. Revenues are expected to be over $2.2 million in 2023. (AB23550) Approved 5-0, Hollie Huthman and Daniel Hammill abstained.
235. Authorize the mayor to sign a What-Comm Communications Center agreement (modification #3) with Whatcom County? This agreement, started in 1995, established the terms and conditions under which they would jointly operate an emergency communications center. This modification cleans up language in the What-Comm Communications Center agreement, Sections V and VIII. A subsection pertaining to call transfer service to the U.S. Border Patrol dispatch center in Blaine was stricken, and a section added mandating assessment for additional fees to user agencies in support of budget shortages and equipment replacement. (AB23558) Approved 7-0
236. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with Whatcom County for crisis intervention services? The city’s share of liquor taxes and profits per state law in the amount of $22,000 is included in the total assistance of $65,000. This agreement provides financial assistance for programs and services that address mental health stabilization and substance use disorder withdrawal management. Services provided at the Crisis Stabilization Center located at 2026 Division Street include 16 beds for medically monitored adult withdrawal management and 16 beds for adult mental health stabilization, medication-assisted treatment to mitigate symptoms of opiate withdrawal, as well as discharge planning and connection to local recovery resources. This agreement shall be effect from 1/1/2023 through 12/31/2023. (AB23559) Approved 7-0
237. Authorize the mayor and police chief to sign 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 a total of $145,784 in 12 monthly 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. This agreement runs from 1/14/2023 through 1/13/2024. (AB23560) Approved 7-0
238. Appropriate $4,722,337 for payroll checks issued from October 16 through October 31, 2022? (AB23562) Approved 7-0
239. Appropriate $4,551,902 for goods and services checks issued from November 11 to November 23, 2022? (AB23563/23564) Approved 7-0
240. Set the times and dates for 2023 regular council meetings? Twenty-four meetings are scheduled. Meeting time will be 7:00 p.m. Roberts Rules of Order are to be used unless otherwise provided by Charter. AB23556 (Resolution 2022-23) Approved 7-0
241. Condemn property at the James/Bakerview intersection? (Public hearing held at November 21 meeting.) This vote will authorize the mayor to commence legal action to acquire the property by eminent domain. The James/Bakerview intersection project will construct a roundabout which will slow vehicles, reduce collisions and improve safety, while also providing long-term transportation capacity as the King Mountain area develops. The city has obtained three federal grants that; together with local dollars, will fully fund the project. The city has offered just compensation for the property, but has not reached an agreement with the owners. The estimated fair market value is $72,500. AB23531 (Ordinance 2022-12-031) Approved 7-0
Action Taken at December 12, 2022 Meeting
Shall the council:
242. Ratify the agreement with the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 106? Effective 1/1/2023, wages will increase 6 percent with an additional 1 percent market increase for a total wage increase of 7 percent. All other aspects of the agreement remain unchanged. The agreement runs from 1/1/2023 through 12/31/2023. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
243. Spend $550,000 to purchase property in Chuckanut Village? The 21 (an approximate number) lots are in the 1900 block of Rainier Avenue and are adjacent to the city’s property. (Discussed in Executive Session.) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
244. Approve the 2022-2026 Greenways Strategic Plan? (Public hearing held.) This Strategic Plan guides and directs the expenditure of Greenway levy funds. In 2016, voters approved Bellingham’s fourth Greenway property tax levy following similar ballot measures passed in 1990, 1997 and 2006. The 2016 Greenway IV Levy authorizes a seven-year property tax levy that collects between $5 million and $6 million per year for the Parks & Recreation Department. The current levy expires at the end of 2023. This Strategic Plan works in concert with the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan, adding specificity to projects funded by the Greenways levy, and is updated every six years in conjunction with the Open Space Plan. (A23565) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
245. Approve the Maplewood McLeod Park Master Plan? (Public hearing held.) At the 6/23/2008 meeting, vote #175, the council spent $376,000 to purchase 5.5 acres on the southwest corner of McLeod and W. Maplewood to be used for a neighborhood park. At the 12/14/2009 meeting, votes 170 and 171, the council spent $100,000 to purchase .42 of an acre for an entrance from the west. This plan will guide future development of the seven-acre park located in the northern Birchwood neighborhood and includes an age-separated playground, picnic shelter, youth activity area, restroom, trails, food forest, and other related site work. Phase 1 design and construction is estimated at $1.795 million and $5 million over two phases. (AB23566) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
246. Change the name of Maplewood McLeod Park to Storybrook Park? See vote #245 for details about the park. (AB23566) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
247. Approve the mayor’s appointment of Cindy Steigerwald to the Transportation Commission? The Transportation Commission helps shape the future of Bellingham by taking a long-range, strategic look at transportation issues and providing recommendations on policy choices and investment priorities. She has 27 years experience in transportation, beginning her career in 1995 as a substitute bus driver. She recently moved to Bellingham and is director of transportation for the Bellingham School District. Her first term will expire on 12/12/2025, at which time she may be reappointed. (AB23568) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
248. Authorize the mayor to accept a public assistance grant for replacement of the Chuckanut Creek Bridge? In November 2021 storm, the existing bridge over Chuckanut Creek between 18th and 19th Streets in south Bellingham was damaged and made impassable. The city removed the damaged bridge and installed a temporary bridge on an emergency basis. This crossing requires a permanent solution to be implemented within five years of the emergency installation to meet all environmental standards and emergency permits. The city has entered into an agreement with TranTech Engineering of Bellevue to prepare a detailed feasibility study; different crossing options will be presented to the council in 2023 with a recommendation on a preferred option. (AB23570) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
249. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with Whatcom County for solid waste removal at homeless encampments? Whatcom County will provide $150,000 in state funds for financial assistance. The City of Bellingham’s newly formed Solid Waste Division of Public Works Operations has removed over 160 tons of trash from the city’s right-of-way, parks and public spaces. This agreement will add an additional contractor to assist with cleaning up city-owned property and public spaces and increasing the frequency from three days to five days a week. The agreement runs from 11/23/2022 to 6/30/2023. (AB23576) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
250. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with Whatcom Transportation Authority for the installation of city-owned and operated electric vehicle chargers at the WTA Cordata Transit Station? The city has identified five parking stalls at the station for installation of two Level-2 chargers and one direct current fast charger, resulting in a total of five public charging ports. These locations will be used by both the general public and WTA, subject to any fee schedule adopted by the city, and may include sidewalk improvements, electrical cabinets and conduit, roadway resurfacing, and related infrastructure improvements. (AB23577) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
251. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with the Whatcom Transportation Authority for a high-frequency corridor study in Bellingham? The city will provide $75,000 in grant funding. The city maintains a transportation fund with revenue derived from the voter-approved two-tenths of one percent sales and use tax to fund certain transportation projects identified in the six-year transportation improvement program (TIP). Project No. 3 in the TIP supports the city’s Climate Action Plan and Whatcom Transportation Authority’s (WTA) public transit system. WTA plans to conduct a high-frequency corridor study to evaluate capital investment opportunities. (AB23578) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
252. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with the Whatcom Transportation Authority for American with Disabilities Act upgrades at all WTA bus stops citywide? WTA plans to perform the upgrades at over 200 bus stops throughout the city at an estimated cost of $750,000. Prior to the commencement of work on the project, WTA shall submit: (a) a detailed scope of work for the project, (b) a cost estimate for the project and (c) a timeline for the project, including projected commencement and completion dates (“project work plan”). The city has agreed to provide $75,000 in grant funding over five years for a total of $375,000, half of the estimated cost of the upgrades. (AB23579) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
253. Authorize the mayor to sign an agreement with the Whatcom Transportation Authority for electric bus charging infrastructure at Cordata Station? WTA plans to install electric charging facilities at Cordata Station to extend service time of electric-powered buses at an estimated cost of $350,000, identified as Project No. 3(c) in the 2022-2027 TIP. Identification in the TIP makes the project eligible for $350,000 in city transportation grant funding. (AB23580) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
254. Appropriate $9,103,341 for goods and services checks issued from November 24, 2022 through December 01, 2022? (AB23581) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
255. Appropriate $4,201,131 for payroll checks issued from November 1 through November 15, 2022? (AB23582) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
256. Add property at 2825 Lindshier Avenue to the 2022-2023 docket of Comprehensive Plan amendments? (Public meeting held.) At the 6/6/2022 meeting, vote #101, the council docketed six amendments to the comprehensive plan for review in 2022-23. On 9/27/2022, Bill Geyer & Associates, on behalf of a property owner, submitted a request to add a proposal to the docket to rezone a property located in the Irongate Neighborhood from Industrial, Planned to Residential, Single and be added to Area 1 of the Barkley Neighborhood, which borders the property to the south. AB23575 (Resolution 2022-25) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
257. Revise rates and hours of enforcement for permit parking? The city currently controls four off-street permit parking areas and two on-street parking areas. At the 1/24/2022 meeting, vote #14, the City Council establish revised rates and hours of enforcement for city parking facilities, including metered and permit parking. It has been found that some lots are underutilized, and some are exceeding the target occupancy rates. This resolution reduces the monthly permit at the Commercial Street Garage (1300 Commercial) and at North Railroad (1500 Block Railroad Avenue) in an effort to increase use of those two parking areas, and also increases the price per month of the Railroad Avenue Garage (1215 Railroad) and the Central Avenue Lot (off Prospect Street) as demand has outstripped supply in those areas. Permit rates may be reduced by 80 percent for full-time residents of subsidized low-income housing located within a parking management zone that is eligible for the utility discount. AB23571 (Resolution 2022-24) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
258. Increase general fund expenditures by $800,000 to ensure that the Parks and Recreation Department and the Legal Department do not exceed their budget authority in the 2021-2022 Biennial Budget? This final budget ordinance of the year makes adjustments to the Parks and Recreation Department ($700,000) and Legal Department ($100,000) to correct potential budget overages. In the Parks and Recreation Department, the ordinance adds utility overages from rate increases, unbudgeted costs related to private security, and less than anticipated salary savings. Initial forecasts suggested that the current budget would be sufficient; however, as yearend approaches, the margin has eroded, necessitating this budget adjustment. In the Legal Department, wages and benefit costs have outpaced the budget due to a salary budget calculation error. AB23551 (Ordinance 2022-12-032) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
259. Repeal a chapter in the city code regarding warehouse activities? This activity has changed dramatically from when the chapter was created in 1981. Shipping and logistics advances have reduced the need for warehousing and central stores. What was once called the Warehouse Fund has long since become the Purchasing Fund. The warehousing service now almost exclusively supports the city’s water utility. The 2023-2024 Biennial Budget transfers the purchasing work group from the Public Works Department to the Finance Department. As part of this change, the budget assumes elimination of the purchasing fund and moves the activity into the general fund, transfers existing dollars in the purchasing fund to the facilities fund to re-roof and add solar panels to the warehouse roof, and it shifts the remaining warehouse operations to the water utility. Approximately $1 million will remain in the fund at year -end. AB23552 (Ordinance 2022-12-033) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
260. Increase the salaries of municipal court judges? This increase aligns the municipal court judge salary with district court judges as determined by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials. State law allows for the city to receive a reimbursement for a portion of the cost if two conditions are met: 1) the municipal court judge is elected, and 2) an ordinance aligning the salary with district court judge has been adopted. This ordinance satisfies the second requirement. This change also affects the court commissioner salary as by policy they are paid 85 percent of the municipal court judge’s salary. The current salary is $171,072; it will be increased to $193,447 and effective 7/1/2023 to $206,988. AB23553 (Ordinance 2022-12-034) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.
261. Adopt the 2023-2024 Biennial Budget? (Public hearings held on October 24 and November 7.) This ordinance is the culmination of that process and sets the budget for the two-year period beginning on 1/1/2023. In addition, the final document also includes an increase to the municipal court judge’s wage, consistent with the ordinance on that topic also before the council on 12/5, and reflects the final decision of the salary commission on City Council compensation. It includes operating expenditures of $641,130,696 and capital expenditures of $203,295,003, for total citywide expenditures of $844,425,699. AB23555 (Ordinance 2022-12-035) Approved 5-0, Lisa Anderson and Dan Hammill excused.