Staffing, spending fight precedes budget talks
A week from presentation of the mayor’s budget proposal, the Edmonds City Council passed a budget amendment Tuesday to fund a permanent Development Services Director position for the remainder of 2013.
Councilmember Joan Bloom spearheaded the effort, arguing the position is too important to delay action further.
Planning Manager Rob Chave has been serving as Acting Development Services Director since March 2012.
The full-time position was cut out of the budget by the previous administration, has remained vacant since March 31, 2009, and wasn’t added back in for the 2013 budget.
Bloom said she failed to realize it wasn’t included this year, apologizing for the oversight.
But she said the position should have been filled by now.
“I strongly believe it should have been presented in the (2013) decision package,” Bloom said.
By delaying further, the city was putting too much weight on Chave’s shoulders, she argued.
“This is a burden not only on Mr. Chave, but on the entire department,” she said. “I think our Development Services Department deserves more.”
Bloom even called further postponement “abusive toward our employees.”
That didn’t sit well with Mayor Dave Earling, who chafed at the suggestion employees were being abused.
“Mr. Chave has flourished and grown while fulfilling both roles,” Earling said. “It’s offensive, in my mind, that he’s not here to hear that.”
Earling urged the council to wait, because his upcoming budget proposal would include requests for the addition of several new positions.
“I’d much rather have all the positions considered together as part of the budget process,” Earling said.
“I don’t disagree it’s an important position. You’ll understand when I do the budget next week that there are other people who are important, too.”
Council President Lora Petso said she was hesitant to support the amendment so close to budget talks, but she was willing to make an exception after she was assured the city could afford the budget amendment.
The proposal passed 5-0, with councilmembers Strom Peterson and Frank Yamamoto absent.
Mayor Earling said he was undecided whether he would go along with the council’s wishes. He could sign the ordinance, not sign it and let it become law anyway, or veto it.