Hats off to legislators | Mayor's Corner

Jul 09, 2015

Well, it took two 30-day special sessions, and we still have a few extra days to clean up some important work, but the state Legislature approved a balanced budget (as per state law), as well as a pretty amazing transportation package and a substantial capital budget.

Yes, there will be some new gas taxes for us to face, as well as some other increases, but for a session that, at times, seemed to be going nowhere and might end in chaos, some pretty bold moves were made in the closing days.

Hats off to the Legislators for their hard work and, in particular, thanks for some true bi-partisan accomplishments.

We in Edmonds need to single out our legislators in the 21st and 32nd Districts for praise. Senators Liias and Chase and representatives Peterson, Ortiz-Self, Kagi and Ryu all played key roles in forming certain pieces of legislation and/or holding important Edmonds projects in place.

This was a very good session for Edmonds.

The good news for Edmonds began a couple of weeks ago with the passage of the "current law" budget. That budget assumes no additional revenue and usually has an ending cash balance which can be utilized for high-need items. It is from this budget that we received the $500,000 for the at-grade rail crossings alternatives analysis.

Special thanks to Representative Clibborn and Senator King, as well as our 21st District Representative Peterson and Senator Liias, for their focused attention on this important project.

Edmonds also took a giant step forward with needed funding for major projects and improvements totaling over $15 million dollars. Included in the $15 million are: $10 million for Highway 99 enhancements and improvements; $2.8 million for parks projects including the potential purchase of Civic Playfield from the Edmonds School District and renovation of the Fishing Pier; $250,000 to repair the leaking roof at the Edmonds Center for the Arts; $1.25 million for a new Senior/Community Center, and over $600,000 for storm-water improvements in north Edmonds.

As I said, all in all, this was a very good session for Edmonds.

On the downside, we lost ground on some issues which will affect our city’s revenue. The greatest disappointment came from the Legislature's sweeping of funds from the Public Works Trust Fund.

That fund has historically been available for low-interest loans for local communities' major public works projects. That financing will not be available for any new projects in the next biennium.

Another challenge centers on the distribution of marijuana tax revenues. If a city does not have a marijuana retail outlet (and Edmonds currently does not), that city will not receive any of the tax, even though it is acknowledged that marijuana-related local public safety enforcement needs will increase in all cities.

I want to call out the very good work of our two contract lobbyists, Mike Doubleday and Jennifer Ziegler. They kept very close watch over key legislation and projects, making innumerable contacts that ultimately had tangible influence.

Also, kudos to our directors who worked on key pieces of legislation that influenced outcomes related to their particular disciplines.

And, oh yes, I should acknowledge that I made several trips to Olympia to testify and engage in seemingly endless contacts with Legislators.

A very strong session for Edmonds? Yes! A perfect outcome? Well, not quite. But compromise brought success in the legislative process. There were shaky moments, but, all in all, we made great progress. As the saying goes, "Perfection is the enemy of good." We did (very) good.




Comments (1)
Posted by: Scott A Blomenkamp | Jul 09, 2015 21:59

I attended the meeting tonight and while we certainly should recognize the positive accomplishments, we do not "get better" unless we recognize areas we are lacking. For instance, we speak of the grants and such we received without addressing the multi-millions we have paid out in legal settlements and judgments. This is pure and simple waste. The Mayor seems to believe this is normal, however I would ask him to cite examples of cities that spend 10% of their operating budget on settlements (this does not count the cost of the City's legal defense). This last City Council meeting the Edmonds City Council voted unanimously on a 50k settlement over public records. WHERE IS THE ACCOUNTABILITY? Where is the press investigating this? The Mayor talks about "selling our souls" for the approximately 46 residential projects. I would say we did not sell our souls, he and his administration did as represented by the clearcut on 232nd and Edmonds Way next to the Woodhaven Veterinarian Clinic. Not only did he sell his soul, his department has allowed already 6 different code violations go on as well as over $100,000 worth of neigboring property damage. I hope you got your moneys worth Mayor Earling.

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