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Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of December 17, 2013
Fiscal Sustainability Recommendations
Tacoma's Fiscal Sustainability Task Force, made up of 18 citizens, has been at work since June evaluating the City of Tacoma's financial situation. The task force has produced an initial report, which will be presented to the Council at this week's study session. A resolution on the agenda for this week's regular Council meeting would accept those recommendations and direct the City Manager to evaluate them. The City Manager would report back to the Government Performance and Finance Committee with his findings on the recommendations.
The Task Force found that expenditures for current programs and services are growing faster than General Fund revenues, a situation described in the task force report as an "ongoing structural budget deficit in the City’s General Fund." In order to address this immediate and long-term threat to the City of Tacoma's fiscal sustainability, the task force recommends an examination of service levels, as well as of the means of funding those services.
The report makes 28 recommendations, focused on what the task force identifies as key drivers responsible for the imbalance between revenues and expenditures, with an emphasis on efficiencies and reduction in growth of expenditures. Primary recommendations include:
- The City must address City employee salaries and benefits in order to close fiscal gap.
- The City should undertake a long-term visioning process
- Given the size of police and fire departments, the search for efficiencies in these operations should be a priority.
- All departments should search for efficiencies on an ongoing basis.
- Additional revenues are needed but alone cannot solve the problem.
- Where appropriate, reduce or eliminate tax exemptions and credits; ensure strong compliance with existing tax codes.
- Sell unused/surplus/non-essential assets and apply proceeds to one-time purposes.
- Pursue opportunities for cost recovery from other agencies and third parties.
Council District 1 Candidates & Other Appointments
This week the Council is scheduled to make a decision on a candidate to take Councilmember Ibsen's place during his upcoming one year leave of absence. At study session the Council will interview the 15 applicants for the position, followed by an executive session to discuss the candidates' qualifications. Assuming they are able to come to a consensus, a resolution on this week's regular meeting agenda would authorize Ibsen's leave of absence and appoint the candidate of their choice to fill the position beginning January 1, 2014, and ending when Ibsen returns from his term of service.
Another resolution would reappoint Tom Pierson to the Greater Tacoma Regional Convention Center Public Facilities District Board for a four-year term to expire October 31, 2017.
Updated Plans and Programs
Cities and towns in Washington State are required to update their comprehensive transportation programs annually. These programs allows municipalities to compete for state and federal grant funding for transportation projects. An ordinance scheduled for a first reading this week would adopt Tacoma's Six-Year Comprehensive Transportation Improvement Program Amended 2013-2014 & 2015-2020.
At last week's City Council meeting we heard the first reading of a pair of ordinances adopting and enacting the South Downtown Subarea Plan. The final reading for both ordinances is scheduled for this week.
The City is also required to have a comprehensive emergency management plan in order to be eligible for federal or state disaster relief funding. Tacoma's current plan is due to be updated by year-end. A resolution on this week's agenda would adopt and implement the updated plan.
Another resolution this week would adopt an updated Citizen Participation Plan outlining the panning process for development of the five-year Consolidation Plan for Community Development Block Grant, HOME Investment Partnership, and Emergency Solutions Grant. The City is required to adopt a CPP that encourages participation of citizens in the planning process for development of the five-year plan and the allocation of the federal funds.
A recent review of Tacoma's Neighborhood Council Program found that many neighborhoods were not represented within the existing Neighborhood Councils; and that there were barriers in the existing program to neighborhood communication and outreach, meeting attendance, and transparency in the decisions and governance requirements of Neighborhood Council Boards. A resolution and an ordinance up for a final reading this week would update the TMC to achieve objectives resulting from the review.
Re-routing South 17th
UW Tacoma would like to reroute South 17th Street between Pacific and Broadway to improve traffic flow and pedestrian and bicycle movement. A resolution on this week's agenda would authorize an agreement between UWT and the City that would have UWT paying $1.25 million to the City for design and construction management relating to the project. Read more here.
One of this week's purchase resolutions would approve $27,089,284 budgeted from the Health Care Trust Fund for the medical/RX plan and stop loss coverage administrator services, for an initial five-year term with the option to renew for five years, for a projected contract total of $68,543,989.
A second purchase resolution would authorize the extension and increase the contract by an amount not to exceed $504,000, sales tax not applicable, for a maximum cumulative total of $6,207,320.13, budgeted from the Treasury Operations Fund, for continuation of banking and merchant card services while the City transitions to a new banking service provider.
The third of this week's three purchase resolutions would amend an agreement with Retail Lockbox, Inc., to extend and increase the contract by $75,000, sales tax not applicable, for a cumulative total of $1,190,873.01, budgeted from the Treasury Operations Fund, for lockbox receipting services.
A resolution on this week's council meeting consent agenda would set Thursday, January 16, 2014, at 1:30 p.m., as the date and time for a hearing by the Hearing Examiner on the request to vacate a portion of the Dock Street air rights north of State Route 509. The request is related to plans for The Henry, which include three small, triangular extensions of the building over the sidewalk at a height of 16' 6"
Mayor Strickland will proclaim December 31, 2013 as First Night Tacoma Day in the City of Tacoma.
A resolution on this week's regular agenda would amend the boundaries of the designated historic property located at 1239 East 54th Street known as the J.M. Hendrickson Homestead. The property is considered historically significant for its association with Tacoma’s Scandinavian heritage and farming history. The owner has requested to plat a portion of the property for redevelopment, which would require an amendment of the boundaries of the historic property, retaining two acres of the historic property.
Yet another resolution on this week's agenda would authorize an agreement between the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma Joint Labor Committee, which provides for benefits for employees represented by the unions that comprise the Tacoma Joint Labor Committee.
The Council will also hear a resolution canceling City Council meetings that would have been scheduled for January 2, March 11, May 27, September 2, November 12, December 23, and December 30, 2014.
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