Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of April 8, 2014


At this week's City Council study session one of the topics of conversation will be a briefing from Pierce County representatives on proposed plans for the county's new campus just south of downtown Tacoma. Last summer we heard that the County was considering tearing down the vacant Puget Sound Hospital building at 36th and Pacific to build a new County office building, where it would centralize many of its departments. A 2013 study found that the move to consolidate certain offices would create greater opportunities for collaboration and overall efficiencies over the current distribution of offices. On Tuesday the Tacoma City Council will hear an update on plans for that project, as well as on Pierce County's planned improvements for its Tacoma Avenue South campus after the new project is complete.

Also on the agenda for this Tuesday's City Council study session is a presentation from Bates Technical College on their Facilities Master Plan, including the potential for improvements at Bates to createcommunity, government, industry, and human services partnerships. 


Water Rate

A resolution appearing on this week's regular Council meeting agenda would amend the Water Rate and Financial Policy to facilitate the development of term-limited, market-based wholesale water rates. In 1993 TPU and the City approved a water rate policy of providing service to all customers at "the lowest possible cost, consistent with prudent utility management." In its 2012 Strategic Plan, Tacoma Water identified the marketing of its excess water supply as an opportunity to get more out of its available resources and infrastructure.

Multiple water utilities in King and Pierce counties have purchased wholesale water supply capacity from Tacoma Water, but most are not using that capacity, due to what they identify as a higher commodity cost associated with Tacoma's supply. In order to be more competitive and to take advantage of Tacoma's available supply of water, TPU has determined that it would be in the interest of Tacoma and its ratepayers to increase sales to wholesale customers. Proposed language changes would give Tacoma Water greater flexibility to negotiate market-based pricing with wholesale customers. Negotiated agreements would still be subject to approval by the TPU Board and Tacoma City Council.


Brewery District Historic Buildings

A second resolution on this week's Council meeting agenda would designate a pair of Brewery District buildings as City Landmarks and add them to the Tacoma Register of Historic Places. The J.E. Aubry Wagon & Auto Works Building at 2105 South C Street and the Hunt-Mottet Warehouse Building located at 2109 South C Street were nominated based on their historical association with the overall pattern of industrial development within the Warehouse District, as examples of early 20th century industrial architecture, and because of their location adjacent to the Union Depot/Warehouse Historic District, within the Union Station Conservation District. The Landmarks Preservation Commission reviewed the buildings at the request of the property owner, and recommended historic designation for both.


Competitive Compensation

Another resolution on this week's regular Council meeting agenda would approve revisions to the City’s Compensation Philosophy section on competitiveness. 

In 2008 the City Council officially adopted a Compensation Policy defining Council goals for the City as an employer. The competitiveness section of that document identified the Council's philosophy on offering compensation that is competitive in the region, in order to attract employees who would support the City as a high-performing, responsive, and competitive organization. In February of 2013 the Council adopted an amendment to the philosophy, which revised the competitiveness section to position pay at the 60th percentile of the market, down from between the 65th and 75th percentile.

This newest revision would drop the reference to specific percentiles of the market, instead focusing on individual employee performance, along with specific market and other conditions, including  situations where there are difficulties in recruiting the desired level of talent in certain jobs; retention issues; significant changes in the economy, marketplace, or budget; and internal anomalies in alignment, disparities or inconsistencies.


Charter Review

The Charter Review Committee has been meeting for several months now, and has identified several areas for closer examination and potential changes. Those areas are being explored in greater depth by five subcommittees, including Form of Government, Article II Legislative, Article III Administrative, Article IV Public Utilities, and Human Resources. Read more here.

The committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on possible changes to the Charter this Wednesday, April 9, at 5:30 p.m. in City Council chambers. Attendees will have the chance to hear about preliminary recommendations and other possible recommendations from the subcommittees, and to speak for up to three minutes on their own thoughts related to the Charter review process.

Also up for consideration this week is a resolution that appears on the agenda for Tuesday's regular City Council meeting, which would authorize the use of up to $30,000, budgeted from the Council Contingency Fund, for advertising and meeting costs related to the 2014 City Charter Review. The funds would cover the cost of sending mailings to every resident and business in Tacoma, inviting them to participate in the public hearing on April 9, and a telephone town hall meeting planned for April 17. The requested funds would come out of the Council contingency fund.


Citizens' Forum

It's here again already; this Tuesday is your chance as a citizen of Tacoma to stand up before your Council and the vast viewership of TV Tacoma and speak your mind on anything over which the Council has jurisdiction.


Other Items

A resolution on this week's City Council meeting consent agenda would set Tuesday, April 22 as the date for a public hearing by the City Council on the recommendations of the 
Community and Economic Development Department for the City’s proposed 2014-2015 Annual Action Plan for Housing and Community Development. The Consolidated Plan is a five-year Housing and Community Development Strategic Plan. A component of this is the Annual Action Plan, which combines the submission of applications for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership  (HOME) and Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) funding for the upcoming program year.

The week of April 14-18, 2014 will be proclaimed Registered Apprenticeship Awareness Week. 

Another resolution on this week's regular Council meeting agenda would authorize the execution of letters of agreement with Teamsters Local Union No. 117, General Unit, which covers approximately 191.5 budgeted positions, for market-based wage adjustments and other compensation, effective retroactive to January 1, 2014. An ordinance scheduled for a first reading this week would implement the agreed to changes.

An ordinance scheduled for a first reading this week would renew a franchise with Level 3 Communications, LLC, to construct, operate, maintain, remove, replace, and repair a fiber-optic communications system within designated public rights-of-way throughout Tacoma. Level 3's most recent agreement is expired and a new one needed in order for the company to obtain permits and to continue to operate.

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I reiterate everything I said about the Pierce County Consolidation site in the comments section here:  http://exit133.com/articles/view/proposal-would-relocate-pierce-county-offices-to-old-puget-sound-hospital-s#.U0QtPNx7HTQ

County Consolidation at the old hospital site is a fantastic spreadsheet solution… but it isn’t a leadership one.  What about all the lost impact that could have been downtown if it were built there?  What about the easy transit from Hilltop that’s going into effect?  We’ve seen the impact of 900 State Farm jobs on development of downtown… why doesn’t the County want that impact?  In 25 years, how will this move be judged by history?  Not very well.

There has to be a way to get this, and it’s economic and transit impacts, in the downtown core.  There can’t be a deal with the County for a trade of jail services that are currently in Fife?  There’s got to be a deal there somewhere… How about the money that was allotted for the McMenamins parking garage to be used to build the parking garage section of the County Consolidation project?  There’s got to be something…

April 8, 2014 at 10:18 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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This is the modern day version of all those pictures in Tacoma archives where people are standing around, cutting ribbons, for the wrecking ball to start work on decimating half of Pacific Avenue so it can be replaced by Park Place North & South.  Just look at how the crowd cheered as they lost another gigantic opportunity!

April 8, 2014 at 10:23 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Maybe they can use the land behind Lincoln High School next to Lincoln Park where the drug addicts hang out.  Great views, easy access, big space less drug addicts.

April 8, 2014 at 12:36 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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