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Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of April 30, 2013
Link Expansion The big ticket item on this week’s City Council meeting agenda is the resolution expressing support for the Council’s preferred alternative for expanding the Link. After much debate, we knew the Council was leaning toward the North Downtown Central (E1) corridor and the resolution identifies that as the preferred alternative. It’s likely that we’ll hear even more about the decision from Council and public comment (both for and against), but it looks like the choice has been made.
Transportation Benefit District The Tacoma Transportation Benefit District Governing Board (a.k.a. Tacoma City Council) will hold a special meeting this Tuesday, April 30 at 5:30 p.m., in Council Chambers, to consider a resolution approving the 2013-2014 Transportation Benefit District Spending Plan.
In June this year, the Washington State Department of Licensing will begin collecting vehicle license fees of $20 on behalf of the Tacoma TBD, as approved by the board last year. The spending plan details how the expected $4 million in TBD revenues will be spent on transportation improvements within the district. The draft plan directs the largest chunk of funds to street rehabilitation, along with smaller amounts for non-motorized and sidewalk/curb ramp work, and for traffic signal repair/upgrade/replacement. More details on the TBD spending plan.
The Board will take public comment on items on the agenda, so if you’ve got opinions on how they spend your $20, now’s your chance to share.
Tacoma Libraries This Tuesday the Tacoma City Council is scheduled to hold a joint session with the Tacoma Library Board, immediately followed by the regular Council study session. The Council and the Library Board will discuss the Tacoma Public Library Strategic Plan. The libraries have seen a lot of changes in recent years – tough cuts leading to branch closures and reduced hours, but also new innovations like the Tacoma Public Libraries mobile app. With budgets tight, and library usage changing, this may be a great time for some innovative thinking…
Budget Nitty-Gritty If you get a kick out of budget speak and ROI the regular study session will be right up your alley. Discussion topics will include updates on the 2011/2012 Biennium-end closeout and re-appropriations, information on a new performance management initiative, and a first quarter financial report for the current 2013/2014 biennial budget. Actually, we should probably all pay attention to these updates closing out the last (less than smooth) budget biennium, assessing the current biennium to date, and looking forward to improvements seem like pretty important topics, if not exactly summer blockbuster, edge-of-your-seat material.
Following on the heels of these budget updates, the regular Council meeting agenda includes an ordinance amending the 2013-2014 Biennial Budget to appropriate funds from the 2011-2012 budget to cover contract obligations, transfers, and other budget adjustments. This ordinance would appropriates December 31, 2012 contract obligations as well as Council approved capital projects with outstanding balances that were not identifiable before the approval of the 2013-2014 Budget Ordinance. The closing of the 2011-2012 General Fund Biennial Budget has resulted in an estimated positive biennium balance of $4.5 Million in additional unanticipated funds. The total impact of these adjustments on the General Fund would be $1,075,233. An increase to the budget for other funds of $91,284,736 is funded by grants, existing fund balances, Local-Improvement District bond proceeds, and other miscellaneous revenue sources.
Building Code Changes At this week’s meeting we’ll hear a first reading of an ordinance that would make changes to Tacoma’s Minimum Building and Structures Code. These changes would be the first major update to the building code since its inception in 1999, when it was adopted to preserve Tacoma’s existing building stock and provide tools for minimum building standards and enforcement.
The proposed changes would shorten timeframes for enforcement, ensure consistency with other sections of the TMC, clarify cost recovery mechanisms, address concerns raised around accessibility through elevators and enhance language related to historic preservation. These amendments would:
- Provide for consistency with other codes such as the building code by creating consistent definitions, aligning appeal procedures, and clarifying the role of the board of building appeals.
- Provide for greater flexibility with regard to historic building preservation by removing restrictive “shall” language and allowing some repair requirements to be waived.
- Improve timeliness for compliance by: reducing time to submit required repair schedule, shortening timelines for civil penalty appeals, and reducing Certificate of Complaint requirements.
- Clarify and strengthen cost recovery opportunities
- Broaden the number of maintenance of items addressed, including elevators.
- Clarify the Board of Building Appeals role in processing appeals.
Task Force Technical Advisory Group An ordinance on this week’s agenda for a first reading would remove reference to the Parking Management Advisory Task Force from the Model Traffic Ordinance portion of the Tacoma Municipal Code.
This ordinance is a part of the creation of a new Transportation Commission, which would advise the Council on transportation-related matters, including short-term and long-range transportation planning; compliance with local, regional and federal transportation regulations; bike, pedestrian and mass transit-related planning initiatives; and parking and capital improvement plans.
Staff recommendations regarding the creation of the 11-member commission include the creation of one or more “Technical Advisory Groups” to provide specific expertise to the commission. It is suggested that the current Parking task force serve as the Parking TAG, and that the current Bicycle & Pedestrian Action Committee serve as the Bicycle & Pedestrian TAG. Perhaps of interest, the supporting documents requesting the ordinance seem to show that this change would remove language from that section that indicates some sort of citizen oversight or review of parking management, leaving only language that refers to the City Manager or his/her designee. Maybe there’s some provision for citizen oversight elsewhere that we’re just not seeing.
Purchase Resolution This week’s purchase resolution would award a contract of $239,784, for a cumulative total of $439,340, budgeted from the 2010 LTGO Bond D Fund, to increase and extend the contract for engineering design, land surveying, and construction phase services for the Tacoma’s Bikeways project, a 13-mile active transportation corridor from South 96th Street and Park Avenue to North 26th and Pearl Streets, through December 31, 2013.
According to the purchase resolution request, this project is the top implementation priority identified in Tacoma’s Mobility Master Plan, and provides a blueprint for the creation of a system of bicycle and pedestrian improvements citywide. At full build-out the system will make biking and walking in Tacoma safer and more practical transportation options. The initial contract for the project covered land surveying, scoping, and engineering design services for the project, which was then broken into phases. The first phase, including route delineation and pavement markings from South 96th and Park Avenue to South G Street, was completed in 2011. The second phase received federal grants for $1.5 million. This item would provide funding for the final phase of the 13-mile route.
Other Items The Mayor will proclaim April 30 and May 1, 2013 as Alaska, Tacoma’s North Star Day. (Isn’t that technically Days?), and will proclaim the month of May 2013 as Bike Month.
Also on the agenda is a resolution appointing and reappointing individuals to the Human Rights Commission, the Human Services Commission, and the Sustainable Tacoma Commission.
This week we’ll hear the final reading of the ordinance implementing changes to rates of pay and compensation for employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 483, Court Clerk’s Unit, which covers 26.8 budgeted, full-time positions. We heard the first reading of this ordinance, and its matching resolution at last week’s Council meeting. Another ordinance scheduled for its first reading this week would implement a change in pay for approximately 398 non-represented TPU positions and 17 non-representative General Government positions; and correct a pay range for one classification represented by Teamsters Local Union No. 117, Public Assembly Facilities Unit, which covers 31 positions.
We’ll also hear the final reading of the ordinance providing for the issuance and sale of the City’s Electric System Revenue and Refunding Bonds, not to exceed $375,000,000, to provide funds to finance capital improvements and allow for the option of refund or defease a portion of the City’s outstanding Electric System bonds. This ordinance also got its first reading at last week’s Council meeting.
And finally, an ordinance up for a first reading this week would make adjustments to the TMC relating to Tacoma’s Local Employment and Apprenticeship Training Program to change the federal Renewal Community designation to Washington State Community Empowerment Zone, revise the definition of a LEAP-qualified participant to include youth and veterans, and eliminate the City of Tacoma Target Area designation.
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