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Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of December 3, 2013
Council & TPU Joint Session
The City Council and the Tacoma Public Utility Board will hold a joint study session this Tuesday. At the joint session TPU staff will share a briefing on the "MyAccount," upgraded website for customer payments. Also on the agenda for the session is a review of Tacoma Power's Integrated Resource Plan. The IRP addresses TPU's plans for meeting customer demand for electricity, while minimizing customer costs. The 2013 IRP focuses on aggressive energy conservation efforts to slow the growth of demand and delay the need to acquire new generating assets through the mid 2020s. Also on the agenda is the annual review for the Mountain Rail Division.
South Downtown Subarea Plan & EIS
At this week's regular Council study session, staff will share an update on the South Downtown Subarea Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement in advance of the public hearing scheduled for this week's Council meeting.
The plan is intended to promote economic development in the southern part of Tacoma's downtown through planning and policy interventions to guide development. The subarea plan and EIS are meant to provide structure and predictability for developers and the community.
Upon final approval, the South Downtown Subarea Plan will become a part of Tacoma's Comprehensive Plan. A couple of accompanying changes will also be made to the TMC, including new regulations for feather signs and downtown fencing standards.
2014 will be the second year of the City's current biennial budget. As the start of the new year approaches, the City is required to review and modify that biennial budget to account for any changes to expected revenues and expenditures. These changes allow the City to more accurately budget for its ongoing needs. We will hear a first reading this week of an ordinance amending the 2013-2014 Biennial Budget to appropriate funds for contractual obligations, transfers, and other budget adjustments; authorizing interfund transfers and contributions; and accepting, depositing, and appropriating miscellaneous donations, contributions, and/or fees.
Growing Transit Communities
A broad coalition of stakeholders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors came together in 2010 to form the Growing Transit Communities Partnership. The Partnership has been working to identify the elements needed to ensure that the nearly $20 billion in high capacity transit investments planned for our region support sustainable development and foster vibrant, healthy, equitable neighborhoods.
After an 18 month collaborative process the Partnership adopted the Growing Transit Communities Strategy, which presents approaches to developing the region's transit areas, along with tools and resources needed to implement the adopted plans. The strategy focuses on three overarching goals:
- Attract more of the region’s residential and employment growth near high-capacity transit
- Provide housing choices affordable to a full range of incomes near high-capacity transit
- Increase access to opportunity for existing and future community members in transit communities
A resolution on this week's regular Council meeting agenda would acknowledge Council support of the Growing Transit Communities Strategy, and the need for coordinating efforts to successfully implement the Strategy, and would authorize the execution of the Growing Transit Communities Compact.
Federal & State Level Priorities
Prior to the beginning of each year's session of Congress and the Washington State Legislature, the City Council indicates its priorities concerning issues that may come before these bodies. The list of priorities tells lawmakers what issues Tacoma feels are important, and helps City staff and lobbyists prioritize resources and efforts. 2014 priorities are listed in the categories of economic development, environment, fiscal, neighborhoods, and transportation.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the main focus appears to be in the areas of revenue and transportation. Specific City of Tacoma priorities listed for 2014 include
- The City supports a transportation funding package that completes SR-167 and other local projects.
- The City seeks new local transportation funding tools, including street utility.
- The City seeks new economic development tools.
- The City opposes any efforts to restrict or diminish its authority to tax and license.
A resolution on this week's agenda would adopt these, along with other listed priority issues for 2014.
Housing & Community Development
Another resolution appearing on this week's Council meeting agenda would approve the 2014-2015 Funding Priorities Statement for the Annual Action Plan of the City’s Consolidated Plan for Housing and Community Development. The statement identifies City funding priorities for Tacoma's allocation of Federal HUD funds received through CDBG, HOME, and ESG grants. Because the 2014-15 funding cycle comes at the end of the current Five Year Consolidated Plan, Community and Economic Development staff recommends that Council continues previously approved priorities, so that they may be completed.
CDBG funds will be used for programs providing stabilization services to lower-income Tacoma residents in categories of housing, economic, and youth emergency services. ESG funds will be used for programs that support individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness in categories of street outreach, emergency shelter, rapid re-housing, and homelessness prevention.
This week the Council is scheduled to hear the final reading of two ordinances we heard the first reading of at last week's Council meeting. The first would amend the TMC to ensure that City B&O taxes are collected on sales of recreational cannabis by marijuana producers. The change would clarify that marijuana is not eligible for the tax exception that applies to other agricultural products sold by farmers.
The second ordinance scheduled for a final reading would extend the final due date for financing relating to the construction of police facilities secured by the City-owned property at 21st and Jefferson.
Waste Prevention Grant
A resolution on this week's regular Council meeting agenda would authorize a grant agreement with the Washington State Department of Ecology. The $653,874, along with $217,958 in matching City funds would be used to promote waste prevention and recycling activities.
The City applies for and has received the grant every two years since the early 90s. This grant will help fund the City's Solid Waste Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste Facility operations and programs aimed at reducing the volume and toxicity of solid waste.
Mass-Casualty Incident Response Vehicle
A purchase resolution on this week's agenda would award $274,000, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Fire Special Revenue Fund and the General Fund, for a mass-casualty incident response vehicle to enhance the TFD's ability to respond to and mitigate the impacts of mass casualty incidents. Funds for the purchase come primarily from federal grants, with about $34,000 coming from the General Fund.
The Mayor will proclaim December 2 - 6, 2013 as Employee Learning Week and the week of December 9 - 13, 2013 as DECA Week in the City of Tacoma.
A resolution on this week's City Council consent agenda would appoint and reappoint Jonah Jensen, Lysa Schloesser, Christopher Granfield, Duke York, and Jeff Williams to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
The Council will also hold a special closed door session on Tuesday to discuss the performance of the City Manager.
The public is invited to join the City and the Downtown Merchants Group in kicking off the holiday season with a celebration of the completion (mostly) of the Pacific Avenue Streetscape project they're calling "Pac the Ave." The event this Saturday, December 7 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the intersection of 8th and Pacific Avenue, will feature live music, arts performances, hot chocolate, kettle corn, and activities.
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