Tacoma City Council Meeting - December 15, 2015

Fans of Tacoma City Council meetings certainly got their money's worth this week. This last meeting of the year clocked in at just over four hours - giving us enough city council excitement to tide us over for the next couple meeting-free weeks...

CONSENT AGENDA

FINAL READING OF ORDINANCES (First and Final Reading)

Ordinance No. 28341 An ordinance establishing Consolidated Local Improvement District No. 64; providing for the issuance, sale and delivery of the Consolidated Local Improvement District No. 64 Bonds, Series 2016, for various utility and street improvements within the ten Local Improvement Districts, in an approximate amount of $2,341,350, and establishing the Consolidated Local Improvement District Fund No. 64; and delegating the authority to approve the final terms of the bonds.

FIRST READING OF ORDINANCES

Ordinance No. 28342 An ordinance vacating the alley between East D and East E Streets, north of Puyallup Avenue and south of BNSF Railway Company property and the terminus of the City right-of-way, for use as a passenger drop-off and bus zone.

The consent agenda was adopted without comment. The second ordinance will get a second reading at a date to be determined.

 

PROCLAMATIONS/RECOGNITIONS/PRESENTATIONS/ANNOUNCEMENTS

Mayor Strickland proclaimed December 31, 2015 as First Night Tacoma Day in the City of Tacoma, and encouraged everyone to join in the festivities in downtown Tacoma this New Year’s Eve. First Night buttons give participants access to venues all over downtown. Buttons are $10 ahead of time, $14 the day-of, and participation is free for kids 12 and under. Details online at firstnighttacoma.org.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT

Public comment on the Click! resolutions was deferred to the point where those items appear on the agenda. There was no other public comment.

 

REGULAR AGENDA

PURCHASE RESOLUTIONS

Resolution No. 39293 A resolution awarding a contract to Hussey Seating Company, in the amount of $227,976, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Tacoma Dome Fund, for 2,400 Clarin chairs, and associated chair storage trucks and spare parts. (Continued from the meeting of October 27, 2015)

Resolution No. 39340 A resolution awarding a contract to Transportation Systems, Inc., in the amount of $238,530.00, plus a 12 percent contingency, for a cumulative total of $267,153.60, sales tax not applicable, budgeted from the Transportation Capital Fund, for the construction of the Beautification of City Entranceways and Improved Signage Project.

Resolution No. 39341 A resolution authorizing the execution of an amendment to the agreement with Fehr & Peers, in the amount of $20,000, for a cumulative total of $995,000, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Fire Department General Fund, to complete a Tacoma Tideflats Emergency Response/Intelligent Transportation System study, and extending the project timeline to March 31, 2016.

Resolution No. 39342 A resolution awarding a contract to Carahsoft Technology Corp., in an amount not to exceed $445,863, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Information Systems Fund, for use of ServiceNow IT Service Management software and professional services, for a three-year period.

Resolution No. 39343 A resolution awarding a contract to The Stergion Group, Inc., in the amount of $299,520, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Information Systems Fund, for technical project management services, for a one-year period ending December 31, 2016 - Specification

All five purchase resolutions were adopted without comment.

 

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution No. 39344 A resolution authorizing the execution of an amendment to the agreement with Comprehensive Life Resources, in the amount of $121,720, for a total of $1,179,828, budgeted from the Mental Health Substance Use Disorder Fund, to expand the capacity of the Positive Interactions Program, for the period of January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016.

This adds funds to the contract for services under the Positive Interactions program, which offers assistance to businesses impacted by encampments and loitering by individuals experiencing homelessness, mental illness, and/or substance abuse issues. The original allocation underestimated need for the program.

 

Resolution No. 39345 A resolution authorizing the execution of a Multi-Family Housing Eight-Year Limited Property Tax Exemption Agreement with Canyon Creek Crossing, LLC, for the development of 40 multi-family market-rate rental housing units located at 2525 South 43rd Street in the Tacoma Mall Mixed-Use Center.

We didn't get the normal presentation on the project qualifying for the 8-year property tax exemption, but supporting documents tell us that the 40 units will break down as follows:

  • 16 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom units at 500 square feet, renting for $600 per month
  • 16 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom units at 600 square feet, renting for $700 per month
  • 8 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom units at 820 square feet, renting for $950 per month
  • 40 on-site residential parking stalls

While the property tax value of the new construction will be exempt from property taxes for the first 8 years, the land will continue to produce tax revenues. Construction is expected to begin in February of 2016 and be completed in February of 2017.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT (Click!)

With the rest of the agenda out of the way, the floor opened for public comment on the decision over what to do about the Click! network. Mayor Strickland reiterated the usual instructions to keep things civil – and then repeated them again.

Comment from more than 40 people was unanimously in support of the all-in option. We heard from local ISP company leadership, Click! employees, current and past elected officials, and the general public. Major themes included the value of Click! in terms of keeping rates low, providing high quality customer service, choice of services, living wage jobs, competitive advantage for Tacoma, and more.

Some commenters spoke to internet access as a basic necessity that should be treated as a utility, as other basic services like power and water are. Some expressed frustration or outright suspicion of the motivations, accounting numbers, and management decisions made by TPU leadership related to Click!.

Members of the tech community described the value of Click!, and the potential they see for an investment in higher speeds, along with the quality of service and affordable rates provided by the publicly-owned network to pay dividends in attracting and retaining tech sector companies

Click! was described as a community asset, an essential service, an element of promoting democratic engagement, the envy of Seattle and other cities, and generally one of the best things Tacoma has going. There was a lot of general Tacoma pride, and optimism for the potential of greater investment in Click! as a public asset.

Perhaps our favorite comment of the evening came from a citizen who described a dream in which Tacoma was like the town from It’s a Wonderful Life. He described a dystopian Tacoma with the Frisko Freeze replaced by a McDonalds, Stadium High School replaced by a Red Lion, the Tacoma Dome renamed the Comcast Dome, and other signs of corporate soullessness. “You’re not making a decision on profit here, you’re making a decision on my children's future,” he said, “Please don’t make me live in Tacoma-Pottersville.”

We heard many pleas to “stick with Click!” and promises that together customers, ISPs, and the City can make Click! not only profitable and successful, but a competitive asset that Tacoma can be proud of – an asset that will make Tacoma an attractive destination for entrepreneurs, tech companies, and residents.

 

Resolution No. 39346 A resolution authorizing Tacoma Power to prepare a draft Request for Proposal for a third-party to operate, use, and maintain Tacoma Power’s telecommunication network and purchase Click!’s physical assets to offer cable television and retail internet services, including voice over data internet protocol, and commercial broadband and Gigabit service to residential and commercial customers within Tacoma Power’s service territory.

Councilmember Lonergan explained his intent with the proposed resolution, which he described as not meant to commit to a lease, but instead to gather more information on what that option might look like. His hope was that both resolutions would pass, allowing the council, TPU, and the public to see what business plans under both scenarios could look like. Having the opportunity to analyze both side-by-side, Lonergan said, would be the best way to chart the optimal path for Click! going forward.

His fellow council members did not agree, with several saying that the decision had been deferred long enough. The resolution failed, with Lonergan’s as the only vote in favor.

 

Resolution No. 39347 A resolution authorizing Tacoma Power to prepare a business plan to provide, in addition to retail cable television, retail internet services including voice over data internet protocol, commercial broadband and Gigabit service.

The resolution was amended to add a Click! engagement committee to provide oversight and assistance with the development of the plan. The committee will be made up of 2 city council members, 2 TPU board members, 2 members of the public with broadband experience, and 1 at-large Tacoma Power ratepayer.

A second amendment proposed by Councilmember Thoms would have added language explicitly stating that any and all costs to ratepayers should be factored in to any business plan. The proposed amendment was met with generally negative reactions, from former Mayor Baarsma, who called it a “very bad amendment,” to more moderated, but still negative reactions from other council members who described it as unnecessary, and presupposing a negative outcome. This second amendment failed.

The resolution, with the first amendment in place, was unanimously adopted by the council. Also unanimous seemed to the be the sentiment that a specific plan is necessary. Mayor Strickland said she wants to see a Click! that Tacoma can be proud of – a network performing at the highest level.

 

COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS OF THE CITY COUNCIL

Economic Development Committee – Councilmember Campbell reported on recent work of the committee. 

  • Interviewed applicants for the Tacoma Arts Commission
  • Heard arts program updates
  • Received an update on this year’s activity in Tacoma’s neighborhood business districts – he is happy to report that things look good there

 

Recognition of outgoing Council Members

Mayor Strickland read proclamations for both outgoing council members Boe and Walker. Even at the end of such a long meeting, their fellow council members chimed in with sincerely nice things to say about both.

We have to agree that Tacoma is better for having had both of them serve on the council, and they will be missed. We will miss both Councilmember Boe’s sense of humor and use of props in meetings and his informed and pragmatic questions. We will also miss Councilmember Walker’s thoughtful and empathetic presence, and her commitment to considering all of Tacoma’s citizens – even those whose voices are heard less often in council chambers. We wish the best to both as they leave the dais, and we hope to see their respective torches taken up by others when council meetings resume in the new year. Especially the props…

Councilmember Woodards was absent from this week’s meeting.

ADJOURNMENT

This was the final city council meeting of 2015. The council's next meeting will be Tuesday January 5, 2016. We’ll see you in January.


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