Tacoma City Business Preview - Week of June 17, 2014

This week's Tacoma City Council meeting agenda is fairly brief, but that doesn't mean there isn't a fair amount going on around City Hall this week...

Charter Amendments 

This week's council Committee of the Whole meeting is cancelled. Instead there will be a special meeting at which the Council will discuss proposed amendments to Tacoma's Charter. There are 19 items on the agenda, representing proposed changes grouped by subject matter, as they might potentially appear on a ballot, if passed along to the voters. The test as to which proposed changes can appear together is whether or not there is a "rational unity" in the subject matter. The City Council will consider each of the items, and make a decision about whether or not to move them forward to the ballot. Not all the items have to move forward, and not all have to appear on the same ballot.

A second special meeting is planned to continue the Charter amendment discussion on June 24. These meetings are open, and there is a public comment opportunity on the agenda for those of you who feel strongly about any of the items, or have a relevant point of view you'd like to share with the Council.

Proposed Amendments to the City Charter as submitted by the Charter Review Committee

  1. Adding gender neutral language, and deleting obsolete provisions and language.
  2. Aligning anti-discrimination provisions with City and state law.
  3. Aligning election provisions with state law.
  4. Concerning the effective date of emergency ordinances.
  5. Establishing a salary commission to determine Mayor and Council salaries.
  6. Concerning City Council powers and duties relative to the Public Utility Board.
  7. Concerning Mayor and City Council term limits.
  8. Adopting a new article, “Powers and Responsibilities of the People.”
  9. Deleting the prohibition of new cemeteries, mausoleums, or crematories.
  10. Adding requirements for Landmarks Preservation Commission, Neighborhood Councils and Business Districts.
  11. Requiring financial interest disclosures from certain officers and employees.
  12. Concerning public employee participation in residential conservation, infrastructure and environmental programs.
  13. Deleting residency and certain citizenship requirements for City employment.
  14. Expanding City Council authority to hire, appoint and confirm staff.
  15. Creating a Citizen Commission on Redistricting.
  16. Changing the government form from Council-Manager to Mayor-Council-Chief Administrative Officer. 

Proposed Amendments to the City Charter as submitted by City Departments

17.  Allowing the City to charge for certain employment tests.

Proposed Amendments to the City Charter as submitted by the Mayor and City Council

18.  Adopting a program for publicly financed campaigns.
19.  Concerning Mayor and City Council term limits. 

Some of the items don't seem to have much to discuss. Item 1, making Charter language gender neutral, and item 9, relating to new cemeteries, for example, seem like fairly straightforward housekeeping items.

Some seem sure to draw quite a bit more conversation. Items 6 and 16, relating to the Public Utility Board and Tacoma's form of government have already gotten a lot of attention. We'll hope to hear more on those, as well as on issues like items 7 and 19 on mayor/council term limits, and 15, on creating a commission on redistricting, which seem important enough to deserve a little more discussion.



This week's council study session will be a work session on the next biennium budget. The discussion will include the results of the Council rating of City services and an overview of the planned public outreach process.


HOME Agreement with Lakewood

Since 1999 Tacoma and Lakewood have had an agreement under which the City of Tacoma receives and administers federal HOME Investment Partnership funds on behalf of the City of Lakewood. Lakewood's allocation of the housing project funds falls below the federal threshold to be a stand-alone jurisdiction for the program, so Lakewood's HOME funding and expenditures are included in Tacoma's processes, and distributed to Lakewood projects through the Tacoma Community Redevelopment Authority. Under this agreement, Tacoma retains 10% of Lakewood's HOME allocation for administration purposes. A resolution on this week's Tacoma City council meeting agenda would reauthorize the Cooperative Agreement with Lakewood, extending the partnership for another three year period, during which time neither party would be allowed to terminate the partnership, per HUD requirements.


Roads & Rails

Two purchase resolutions appear on this week's council meeting agenda. The first would award $1 million from the Street Operations and Maintenance Fund for the purchase of hot-applied chip seal binder, to apply surface treatments to streets in Tacoma from 2014 through 2018. Street Operations expects to use about 250 tons of the product over each of the next four years. The chip seal process is used to extend the useful life of streets by 7 to 10 years.

The second purchase resolution would award a $739,095, plus sales tax, contract for highway-rail grade crossing signal maintenance and inspections. 46 of TRMW's 239 federally registered highway-rail grade crossings are signalized. If approved, the contract would cover the 31 signals TRMW is responsible for, budgeted from the Tacoma Rail Mountain Division Fund, for an initial three year term through June 2017, with the option to renew for two additional one-year terms, for a projected total of $1,231,825.


Other Items

The Mayor will proclaim the third Wednesday in June as Walk Tacoma Day and June 22, 2014 as Mary Ball Day. 

A resolution on this week's council meeting agenda would appoint Christine Cooley, Ellen Moore, Sarah Chessman, Felicity Devlin, and Ken Campbell to the Sustainable Tacoma Commission.

An ordinance scheduled for a first reading at this week's council meeting would amend the Tacoma Municipal Code relating to rates of pay and compensation for 32 employees represented by the United Transportation Union, Switch Crew Unit.

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