Tacoma City Business Preview for the Week of December 8, 2015

Veterans Internship Program (VIP)

At Tuesday's Study Session staff will provide a briefing and update on the launch of the City's new Veterans Internship Program (VIP). The conversation will include an overview of how the program will help service members transition into the civilian workforce, and a discussion of recent initiatives to strengthen recruitment efforts of JBLM service members.


Lincoln District Revitalization Program Update

Also on the agenda for this week's study session is a presentation from Community and Economic Development Department staff on the Lincoln District Revitalization Program. The presentation will include an update on the kickoff, the new Lincoln District Office, CEO Business Liaison, progress on the Streetscape Project, Public Art, and programmatic coordination. 


Transportation Funding

At last week's council meeting we heard the first reading of an ordinance authorizing an additional 1.5% earnings tax on natural gas, electric and phone companies. This is the implementation of the recent voter-approved Proposition 3. A final reading of that ordinance scheduled for this week's meeting would seal the deal.



Every year the city council decides what its priorities are when it comes to issues that might come up in federal and state legislative bodies. Prioritizing the issues gives staff guidance on where to invest time and resources, and tells the public and officials at the state and federal levels what the City cares about.

A resolution adopting the council's priority issues for the 2016 sessions of the United States Congress and Washington State Legislature appears on this week's council meeting agenda. The council got a briefing on the priorities at last week's study session. Below are some highlights, but you can read the full draft documents here: State Legislative Agenda and Federal Legislative Agenda.

Summary State Agenda:

  • State assistance to fund repair or replacement of heavily used aging bridges that are beyond the limitations of existing grant programs.
  • A comprehensive water projects funding package that includes stormwater, aquifer, and flooding projects provided all who benefit pay and fully participate.
  • Local control of taxes, changes to the 1% cap on property tax revenue
  • New economic development tools
  • Protection of the EMS levy 
  • A narrow public records exemption for municipal retirement systems
  • State meeting its obligations to fully fund K-12 education with new revenue
  • Increased State funding for a continuum of services, provided both by the State and local government, to assist homeless individuals and families.
  • Changes in law to help cities improve police/community relations
  • Adoption of statewide requirements for paid sick and safe leave at least to the level approved by Tacoma voters
  • An increase in the minimum wage to at least the level approved by Tacoma voters

Summary Federal Agenda:

  • Adoption of the Innovative Stormwater Solutions Act to establish centers of excellence and innovation in treating stormwater and the Puget Sound S0S Act, which would establish a Puget Sound Recovery National Program Office in the State of Washington.
  • An increased minimum wage 
  • Mandatory paid sick leave 
  • The long-term sustainability of JBLM and support for veterans' transition to successful civilian careers and entrepreneurial enterprise in Tacoma
  • Continued Federal funding for locally administered housing solutions such as Moving to Work, HOME, CDBG, and Choice Neighborhoods
  • Continuing initiatives to support opportunity youth as a key component of economic equity for our community
  • New Federal investment in infrastructure, including highways, bridges, and transit funding


Historic Church

We wrote in October that the Epworth LeSourd United Methodist Church just off 6th Avenue was on its way to becoming a theater for Tacoma Musical Playhouse. The church's congregation closed the doors last summer, due to high costs of maintaining the building. The community theater organization took it over with plans to turn it into a space for performances, practice, educational programs, and administrative work, with plans to restore the historic structure. 

This week the church is up for historic status, with a resolution that would designate it as a City Landmark and place it on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places. This status would allow the theater group to apply for a a Historic Conditional Use Permit to convert the church into a performing arts venue and educational space, keeping it occupied and in use.



At last week's council meeting we also heard the first reading of an ordinance modifying the 2015-2016 Biennial Budget to appropriate funds for additional contract obligations, transfers and other budget adjustments; authorizing interfund transfers and contributions; and authorizing the acceptance, deposit, and appropriation of miscellaneous donations, contributions, and fees. That ordinance is also up for a final reading this week.


Citizens' Forum

It's the last Citizens' Forum of 2015. Have something on your mind (over which the council has jurisdiction) that you'd like to say your piece on? This is your chance.


Other Items

Mayor Strickland will present her selection for Tacoma Reads 2016.

There will be a resolution reappointing individuals to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

We will hear the final reading of an ordinance implementing changes in rates of pay and compensation for groups of represented and non-represented City employees, and changes in classifications to reflect the organizational structure. This ordinance got its first reading last week.

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