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Tacoma City Council Meeting - February 24, 2015

There was a full-ish chamber this week, but nothing like what we saw last time Point Ruston annexation was up for conversation.



Resolution No. 39119 A resolution authorizing the execution of an Interlocal Agreement with the Port of Tacoma, for the design and future replacement of pavement surface on the Port of Tacoma Road.

The resolution was adopted without comment.



February 24, 2015 was proclaimed as World Spay Day in the City of Tacoma. Euthanasia of unwanted pets is the number one cause of death for dogs and cats. Fixing animals can prevent this. Mayor Strickland joined advocates in encouraging everyone to have their pet spayed or neutered, and/or to sponsor the spaying or neutering of a pet in need.




Resolution No. 39120 A resolution awarding a contract to Cascadia Consulting Group, Inc., in the amount of $511,625, sales tax not applicable, budgeted from the Environmental Services Solid Waste Fund, to develop a Sustainable Materials Management

The resolution was adopted without comment.



Resolution No. 39110 A resolution acknowledging receipt of, accepting, and expressing receptiveness regarding a Notice of Intent to Petition for Annexation concerning the portion of the Point Ruston redevelopment site lying within the City of Ruston. (Continued from the meeting of February 3, 2015)

If there was a main event for this week’s meeting, this was it. With each council member weighing in on where they stand, we heard a range of views. Councilmember Walker got the ball rolling by saying that if it was up to her, there would be another 90 day extension to allow Ruston to show it can make more good faith progress on issuing permits and working with the developer. She noted that she is uncomfortable with the use of the threat of annexation as leverage, seeing it, like eminent domain, as a tool of last resort. Deputy Mayor Boe described himself as “conflicted” about the decision, saying that while there is no apparent downside for the citizens of Tacoma, who the council is elected to represent, he is uncomfortable with the idea of annexation, and wants to respect Ruston’s sovereignty, so would be voting no as well.

Mayor Strickland was considerably less hesitant about using the threat of annexation, pointing to the December meeting, which produced an agreement that failed to yield results. That was 90 days before this week’s meeting, and, the Mayor said, noting happened until the threat of annexation came into the picture. Similarly, Councilmember Thoms said he wished the development could move forward without the threat, but that he felt that something needs to be done to establish “a new state of normal” for the project.

Despite varying views on the necessity – or not – of continuing the annexation conversation, the consistent message was that no one wants to be here, and that no one wants to have to annex Point Ruston, but that all feel it their duty to do what they can to protect Tacoma’s investment in the development to this point.

Ultimately the resolution passed with no votes coming from Councilmember Walker and Deputy Mayor Boe. This puts the ball in Ruston’s court, where the council there is sure to vote it down. The move for annexation will die there, unless there is state-level action, which is a possibility.


Resolution No. 39121 A resolution designating the City of Hvar, Croatia, as a Sister City.

This resolution makes Hvar Tacoma’s 13th Sister City. Hvar is located off the Dalmation Coast in southern Croatia, in the Adriatic Sea. Beginning in the 1870s immigrants began arriving in Tacoma from the Dalmation Coast area. Many of these immigrants over the years have come from Hvar.


Resolution No. 39122 A resolution authorizing the execution of a Water System Acquisition Agreement with the Andrain Road Water Association, to establish the terms and conditions to expand Tacoma Water’s service area to include 59 residences, located in the vicinity of 128th Street East and 70th Avenue East in Pierce County.

The Andrain Water Association has served 59 households, getting the water wholesale from Tacoma Water. Recently the association has been unable to accommodate growth in its service area, and requested to be absorbed by Tacoma Water. 


Resolution No. 39123 A resolution authorizing the execution of an amendment to the agreement with RailWorks Track Systems, Inc., in the amount of $150,000, for a cumulative total of $520,712, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Tacoma Rail Mountain Division Fund, to extend the contract for on-call track and bridge maintenance, through December 31, 2016.

This resolution extends the current on-call track and bridge maintenance contract with the current company, which is willing to extend their 2012 prices.


Resolution No. 39124 A resolution authorizing the execution of an agreement with the Tacoma-Pierce County Humane Society, in the amount of $881,356, budgeted from the General Fund, for animal shelter, licensing, and related services through December 31, 2016.

The new Humane Society contract is for two years, rather than one, to align with the City’s budgeting process, and includes an annual increase to the per animal rates the City pays, up to $85.20 per animal in 2015 and $86.90 per animal in 2016. This compares favorably to other nearby jurisdictions, like Seattle, which pays around $300 per animal.


Resolution No. 39125 A resolution accepting $350,924 from Puget Sound Energy, and depositing said sum into the Permit Services Fund; and authorizing the execution of an agreement with Ecology and Environment, Inc., in the amount of $350,924, budgeted from said fund, for preparation of a draft and final Environmental Impact Statement and related services for Puget Sound Energy’s proposed Liquified Natural Gas facility in the Tacoma Tideflats.

The proposed LNG facility, announced last summer, would provide fuel for Tote vessels and others headed for Alaska, and in high demand winters would provide back up energy to other customers. This week’s resolution would make the City of Tacoma the lead agency on an independent review of work done on the project, which will look at environmental impacts of the project, and share them through a public process. PSE would cover all the costs, passing the money through the City to pay the independent contractor performing the review.


Resolution No. 39126 A resolution authorizing the allocation of $2,600,538, budgeted from the Mental Health Fund, for human services programs from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016; and authorizing the execution of agreements with:

  • Catholic Community Services, in the amount of $870,000;
  • Comprehensive Life Resources, in the amount of $1,058,108;
  • Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare, in the amount of $467,050; and
  • Pierce County Alliance, in the amount of $205,380.

The three resolutions authorize direct funding for services funded through the 0.1% sales tax for mental health and chemical dependency services passed in 2012, minus the funds for MDC contracts, which are still pending. The amounts funded here represent available funding, minus those contracts, and with 25% of the funds raised set aside in a contingency fund for situations of unforeseen economic downturn.


Resolution No. 39127 A resolution authorizing the allocation of $2,016,128, budgeted from the General Fund, for human services programs from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016; and authorizing the execution of agreements with:

  • Associated Ministries, in the amount of $268,500;
  • Pierce County Aids Foundation, in the amount of $254,132;
  • Tacoma Community House, in the amount of $355,436;
  • Tacoma Housing Authority, in the amount of $241,692;
  • The Rescue Mission, in the amount of $599,368; and
  • YWCA of Pierce County, in the amount of $297,000.

The resolution was adopted without comment.


Resolution No. 39128 A resolution authorizing the allocation of $669,819, budgeted from the Mental Health Fund, for human services programs from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016; and authorizing the execution of agreements with:

  • Comprehensive Life Resources, in the amount of $265,337; and
  • Tacoma School District No. 10, in the amount of $404,482.

Council members Woodards and Walker commented on the importance of taking care of our citizens who need these services. Councilmember Thoms added that he hoped other jurisdictions would step up to the plate and provide similar support for their citizens as well.



Ordinance No. 28282 An ordinance amending Chapter 1.12 of the Municipal Code, relating to the Compensation Plan, to implement changes negotiated with the Tacoma Joint Labor Committee regarding vacation leave and holiday pay, and rates of pay and compensation for employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 483, Water Pollution Control Unit.

The ordinance was adopted without comment.

Ordinance No. 28283 An ordinance amending Chapter 1.24 of the Municipal Code, relating to the Personnel Rules, to incorporate gender-neutral terminology and update City titles, policies, practices, and procedures, as approved by the Civil Service Board.

The ordinance was also adopted without comment.



Ordinance No. 28284 An ordinance amending Chapter 6A.110 of the Municipal Code, relating to the Property Tax Exemptions for Multi-Family Housing Code, to align with City priorities and state law, and clarify requirements regarding vacancy and displacement issues for occupied structures that are to be rehabilitated or developed.

Staff noted that as the economy has picked up, the number of applications for the multi-family housing tax exemption has increased, and with that increase have come a few concerns from developers and from the affordable housing community. Developers are finding vacancy requirements in the code confusing, and affordable housing advocates are concerned about the potential displacement and hardship of moving for low-income residents.

To address developer concerns and to improve consistency with Washington State code the proposal is to remove a requirement that properties have sat empty for six months before redevelopment under the tax exemption. To address concerns about displacement the proposal would seek to avoid displacement of low-income residents, and to provide moving assistance if they are required to move. The code changes further require that if tenants are relocated, they be relocated to housing that meets acceptable standards.



Government Performance and Finance Committee – Councilmember Lonergan reported on recent issues addressed by the committee.

  • Heard a presentation from TPU on proposed rate increases for 2015-16. The first reading on this will be next week.
  • Heard about the four ballot measures amending Tacoma’s Charter passed by voters, which will require council action.
  • Received an update from Public Works on the Local Improvement District program, another from the City IT department on enterprise licensing.
  • Discussed the GPFC end of year report and potential committee items for 2015.

Councilmember Boe shared several upcoming performing arts events.

Councilmember Ibsen reminded us that this Thursday, February 26, would be the second of four Metro Parks town halls on the future of Point Defiance. You can learn more and give feedback online at destinationpointdefiance.org



For more on the items on this agenda, see our City Business Preview for the week.

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