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Tacoma City Business - Week of November 26, 2013
With 2014 on the horizon, the Council will be covering a couple of 2014 topics. First, at study session, staff will review recommendations for 2013-2014 mid-biennium budget modifications. Also scheduled for this week is the public hearing during the regular Council meeting on the proposed modifications. If all goes according to plan, the ordinance adopting budget modifications will show up for a first reading at the December 3rd Council meeting.
State & National Priorities
As a second 2014 item, Council will hear about proposed 2014 State and Federal Legislative Agenda items for the City of Tacoma. These are issues that may come before Congress and the State Legislature in the coming legislative session in Olympia and DC, which the City Council identifies as priorities. The resolution adopting these priorities is scheduled to be on the agenda at the December 3rd Council meeting.
The Tacoma Municipal Code currently provides an exemption from B&O tax on sales of agricultural products that are grown and sold by the same person. This exemption is intended for farmers who grow and sell their own products, and as currently written would be broad enough to make marijuana sales by growers exempt. An ordinance on this week's Council meeting agenda would amend the TMC to ensure that sales of recreational cannabis by farmers are taxable under Tacoma's local Business & Occupation tax. It's tough to say how much revenue to expect that this tax change could bring in, but using State estimates, the City of Tacoma thinks it may see additional annual revenues in the amount of $15,000 per cannabis producer located in the city.
2014 Property Tax
This week we'll hear the final reading of four ordinances associated with property tax levies for 2014. Two of the ordinances relate to regular City of Tacoma property taxes; the other two relate to Tacoma's Emergency Medical Services property tax levy. As we heard at last week's Council meeting, taxpayers shouldn't expect to see much of a change here.
Five More Years
In 2002 Tacoma voters approved $34.3 million in bonds for the construction of a new Tacoma Police headquarters and four neighborhood substations. The construction of those projects ultimately cost another $4.2 million due to increases in construction costs, funded in 2005 through the issuance of an "Internal Note" secured by the sale of City-owned property at 21st and Jefferson. That property has not sold, and the City has determined that it would be advantagious to wait for a later sale. The City wants to extend the due date on that internal note for five more years to allow more time for the sale of the property in question.
A resolution on the consent agenda for this week's Council meeting would set December 10 as the date for a public hearing by the City Council on the proposed sale of approximately 10.82 acres (1.21 miles) of real property within Tacoma Rail Mountain Division property, located in the vicinity of East D Street to Puyallup Avenue, to Sound Transit, for its Sounder Commuter Rail Service.
Sound Transit has been operating on the property in question under a temporary operating agreement. ST and the City of Tacoma have been negotiating a permanent operating agreement, which would include the sale of that property to Sound Transit. The transit agency and the City have decided that the transfer of ownership would be mutually beneficial, as it would allow ST to make needed improvements to the regional transportation infrastructure. Tacoma Rail to continue its freight operations in perpetuity. Under agreement Sound Transit will pay the City $4 million, and convey 1.2 acres of its surplus property at the Pacific Avenue and South 26th to the City at no cost, along with up to $200,000 for the landscape design and improvements on this transferred property.
Another consent agenda resolution this week would authorize an Interlocal Agreement with Lewis County and the City of Chehalis to outline the terms and conditions of a potential sale of the southernmost 20 miles of railroad right-of-way with runs from Maytown, in Thurston County, to slightly south of Chehalis in Lewis County, in the amount of $3,000,000. Tacoma Rail Mountain Division has operated and maintained this line since acquiring it in 1995, but the 20 miles reference here is being operated by a third party under a short-term lease. Under this agreement Lewis County and the City of Chehalis have a three-year period to seek funding and assistance to purchase the section of right-of-way. The City of Tacoma would sell the section of rail line to them for $3 million if they can line up the funding in the next three years.
Also on this week's agenda is a purchase resolution for a $95,000 contract increase, to a cumulative total of $2,022,511.50, budgeted from the Tacoma Rail Mountain Division Fund, for railroad track reconfiguration at the Blakeslee Junction Track Realignment Project. As a part of WSDOT widening of I-5 through Lewis County, a reconfiguration of the Tacoma Rail tracks at Blakeslee Junction was required to accomodate the new highway bridge. The City of Tacoma took the lead on the track reconfiguration project, which was completed in late 2012. Funds will be reimbursed by WSDOT.
"One-Stop" Business Portal
A final consent agenda resolution this week would authorize an Interlocal Agreement with the cities of Bellevue, Everett, and Seattle to establish the Washington Multi-City Business License and Tax Portal Agency to streamline Business and Occupation Tax collection and licensing activities in these areas.
The agreement agreement would allow the City to establish an intergovernmental entity to oversee the management and operation of an online portal that will make possible “one-stop” business license filings and business & occupation tax calculation and payment for businesses operating in multiple participating cities. Those participating cities have been working on the project for nearly three years now. The portal is expected to be ready for testing early in 2014, with a full launch date anticipated for third quarter 2014.
Comprehensive Transportation Plan
This week is the date set for a public hearing by the City Council on the proposed 2015-2020 Six-Year Comprehensive Transportation Improvement Program and proposed amendments to the 2013-2014 program. The six-year program lists planned transportation projects in the city for the remainder of 2013 and 2014, and for 2015 through 2020, including roadways, bridges, non-motorized facilities, sidewalks, and other capital-related transportation projects. The City updates the plan annually, as required by RCW, based on anticipated revenues and desirability of various projects. Projects must be listed on the current plan to obtain state or federal funding in Washington, but being listed does not guarantee that the project will happen.
We will hear a recognition of the City’s certification as a STAR (Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating) community.
Another purchase resolution on this week's agenda would award $1,622,744 budgeted from the Surface Water, Wastewater, and Permit Services Funds for a web-based software used to process Building, Land Use and Site Development permits. The software tool provides a centralized location in which permit-related activities can be processed and monitored, and will allow applicants and citizens to have access via the internet to apply for and check status of permits, and to request inspections. The City expects an initial 10% increase in permit review capacity.
A resolution on this week's regualar agenda would authorize the sale of four former substation sites, previously declared surplus, located at 5001 North Visscher Street, 1801 North Orchard Street, 4924 North 31st Street, and 1009 South 35th Street, owned by Tacoma Power, to Reggie Brown for the cumulative total of $317,000. The public hearing for this proposed sale was held at last week's Council meeting, with no commenters coming forward.
We will also hear the final reading of an ordinance relating to changes to rates of pay and compensation, and changes in classifications for the following bargaining units: the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge No. 160, on behalf of Local Lodge 297, Rail Mechanics, Track Workers, and Yard Clerk Units; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 483, Court Clerk, Customer and Field Services, Supervisors’, Water Division, and Water Pollution Control Units; Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers; and Professional and Technical Employees, Local 17.
This is the date set for a public hearing by the City Council regarding the surplus and proposed sale of 27,499 square feet of Tacoma Water property located at 7704 6th Avenue, to David A. Sizemore, in the amount of $22,500. (Continued from the meeting of November 19, 2013)
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