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Tacoma City Council Meeting - July 23, 2013
The Interim Director of Public Works presents the assessment roll for the following: LID No. 7723 Conversion of existing overhead electrical primary, telephone, and cable-TV systems to underground along the alley between North 29th and North 30th Streets from White to Junett Streets; and North 30th Street from 250 feet east of White Street to Junett Street. Setting Thursday, August 15, 2013, at 1:30 p.m., as the date for a hearing by the Hearing Examiner. [Ralph Rodriguez, L.I.D. Administrator; Kurtis Kingsolver, Interim Director, Public Works]
PROCLAMATIONS, RECOGNITIONS, PRESENTATIONS, AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
In response to questions raised regarding Resolution No. 38700, and in an effort to provide additional information prior to public comment, staff made a brief presentation on the proposed tax. We heard a little more emphasis and detail on the connection between this tax and past work and proposals from groups, including the Mobility Stakeholder Funding Task Force and the Citizen Streets Improvement Task Force. It continues to be a challenge to find adequate funding to address the problem of Tacoma’s roads, which the public consistently identifies as a top priority. In 2011 the City created the Mobility Stakeholder Funding Task Force to explore potential sources of sustainable long-term funding to be dedicated to the issue. In January of 2012, the task force reported back.
… the need for improvements to roads, sidewalks, arterial streets, and pedestrian safety is significantly greater than the available funding sources. To improve pavement conditions alone to acceptable levels, up to $40 million per year for 20 years of additional funding would be required beyond today’s levels.
The task force made recommendations for how the City could begin to raise that $800 million. The recommended levy lid lift didn’t work out as real estate values dropped, but we did end up with a Transportation Benefit District, as recommended.
Some other highlights from the presentation, and from materials presented at this week’s City Council study session include
- The proposed tax would apply to all utilities owned by the City or operated within the City limits. This includes wireless and traditional telecommunications systems.
- The 2% tax increase would apply to electrical, telephone, and natural gas earnings, bringing those rates from their current 6% tax to the same 8% level as other utilities in Tacoma.
- Other utility rates including Click! Cable would not be affected.
- The utility earnings tax for City-owned utilities is currently, and would continue to be based on gross revenues derived from customers located both inside and outside the City.
- Privately owned utilities are currently, and would continue be taxed only on the earnings derived from customers within the City of Tacoma.
- Multiple cities in Washington have received voter approval to increase these utility taxes above 6% for specific purposes.
- Tacoma voters have not approved a ballot measure for transportation funding since 1968.
For more on the proposal, including some nitty-gritty numbers comparisons to other municipalities, download this week’s study session handout (pdf).
Not surprisingly, the bulk of public comment this week was on the resolution to place the proposed 2% utilities earnings tax on the November ballot. Comments were fairly evenly split for and against. Supporters asked the Council to pass the resolution and let voters decide; the theme was that we need action now. Those voicing opposition voiced concerns about the short timeline and limited public process so far, and about what some called the disproportionate impact of the tax on businesses and low-income households. No one denied that Tacoma’s roads need help.
We also heard from one commenter asking Council to take more time to consider the Niagara Bottling deal, and the owner of 4RentCheck.com requesting that Council approve the extension for his deal to purchase the former Swan Creek Library.
A motion was made and carried to authorize the City’s full and finalsettlement of all claims against the City by State Farm Insurance Company as subrogee of John Reha, Claim No. W-004-13, upon payment by the City in the amount of $34,663.55.
Resolution No. 38695 Appointing individuals to serve on the Transportation Commission. [Doris Sorum, City Clerk; Elizabeth Pauli, City Attorney]
Eight citizens were appointed to the commission, which will deal with a variety of issues relating to transportation. Deputy Mayor Campbell encouraged anyone from District 4 with an interest in transportation to apply to represent their district.
Resolution No. 38696 Appointing individuals to serve on the City’s Events and Recognitions Committee. [Doris Sorum, City Clerk; Elizabeth Pauli, City Attorney]
Two citizens were appointed to the committee, which will be responsible for planning, organizing, promoting and soliciting donations for City events and awards like the City’s MLK celebration and the City of Destiny Awards. The City is still seeking individuals to fill the rest of the committee.
Purchase Resolution No. 38697 Awarding a contract to: MetalCraft Marine, Inc., in the amount of $1,900,000, plus sales tax, budgeted from the Fire Miscellaneous Revenue Fund,
for a 50-foot aluminum hull, water jet driven CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive) equipped fast attack fireboat – Specification No. FD13-0342F. [Rodger Edington, Assistant Fire Chief; James Duggan, Chief, Tacoma Fire]
The resolution was adopted without Council Comment.
Resolution No. 38698 Authorizing the execution of an amendment to the purchase and sale agreement and restrictive covenant with 4 Rent Check.com, LLC, to allow a 90 day extension to close on the sale of the former Swan Creek Library property located at 3828 Portland Avenue. [Conor McCarthy, Assistant Manager, Real Property Services; Kurtis Kingsolver, Interim Director, Public Works]
The resolution allows for a 90-day extension to the agreement to allow the buyer to close on the sale of the property.
Resolution No. 38699 Authorizing the execution of a Collective Bargaining Agreement with United Transportation Union, Yardmasters Unit, which consists of five budgeted, full-time positions, retroactive to January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2018. [Joy St. Germain, Director, Human Resources]
The resolution passed without council comment.
Resolution No. 38700 Transmitting a ballot measure to the Pierce County Auditor to be placed on the ballot for the General Election on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, which reads:
CITY OF TACOMA PROPOSITION NO. 1
2% Earnings Tax on Utility Companies for Tacoma Street Improvements
If approved, this proposition would fund basic maintenance and safety upgrades for city roads, arterials, and bridges; permanent pothole repairs; pedestrian safety improvements to crosswalks near schools, sidewalks, and intersections; repaving neighborhood streets; improved signal timing; and repairs to bridges. Shall the City of Tacoma, pursuant to RCW 35.21.870, levy an additional 2% earnings tax on natural gas, electric, and phone companies for the sole purpose of funding Tacoma-wide street maintenance improvements and safety upgrades?
[T.C. Broadnax, City Manager]
A motion was made and passed to make minor amendments to the resolution, changing two words: adding the word “natural” before “gas,” and removing the word “of” from “repaving of neighborhood streets.” In discussing how they arrived at this point, staff mentioned a whole list of other funding sources including a levy lid lift on property taxes, sales tax, and others, which were looked at by staff and citizen task forces. The utility tax was determined to be the most feasible in light of current economic and other conditions.
FINAL READING OF ORDINANCES
Ordinance No. 28161 Authorizing the execution of a water supply agreement between Niagara Bottling, LLC, and Tacoma Water, which includes a temporary contract water service rate in return for minimum purchase quantities, for a five-year period commencing July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2019. [Tony Lindgren, Distribution Engineering Manager; Linda McCrea, Superintendent, Tacoma Water]
The ordinance passed unanimously. Niagara will get the reduced rate for the first 265,000 gallons used daily for five years. Any amount over that each day will be charged at the regular industrial rate, and after the first five years, Niagara’s rates will revert to that regular rate for all water used. Tacoma won’t get any brand recognition for the use of its water, but Niagara bottles for several different companies, so there’s a good chance you could end up drinking Tacoma water out of a bottle in the next few years.
FIRST READING OF ORDINANCES
Ordinance No. 28162 Amending Chapter 1.12 of the Municipal Code, relating to the Compensation Plan, to implement rates of pay and compensation for employees represented by the United Transportation Union, Yardmasters Unit, which consists of five budgeted, full-time positions. [Joy St. Germain, Director, Human Resources]
This ordinance would implement the agreement covered by the matching resolution. This five-year contract took two years to negotiate. The positions covered would get a $1.25 hourly rate increase per year over five years, plus a 3% profit match in profitable years for Tacoma Rail.
Ordinance No. 28163 Granting a non-exclusive ten-year telecommunications franchise to Electric Lightwave, LLC, to construct, operate, and repair a telecommunications system throughout the city. [Jeff Lueders, Franchise Services Manager; T.C. Broadnax, City Manager]
The ordinance would approve a telecommunications franchise agreement between the City of Tacoma and Integra, which has successfully done business in Tacoma in the past according to the franchise services manager.
REPORTS BY THE CITY MANAGER
Nothing to report.
Nothing to report.
COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
Neighborhoods and Housing Committee – Councilmember Walker reported on topics discussed.
- A review of mental health funding applications and recommendations, allocating more than $1.7 million to 11 applicants, as finalized at the June 25 Council meeting.
- Policy direction for a chronic public inebriate pilot project.
- The results of the neighborhood council survey, and next steps for the neighborhood council review process.
- Organized neighborhood and block groups throughout the city.
- A City initiative to improve Tacoma’s enforcement codes to prevent demolition of Tacoma’s historic properties through neglect.
- A proposed single-family blight abatement program to rehabilitate blighted and abandoned single family homes in Tacoma.
- An update on the 2013 Community-Based Services code compliance survey and rapid response graffiti removal program.
At the next meeting, the committee will discuss the neighborhood council review, the innovative grants program, and the noise code.
Councilmember Woodards reminded us that Ethnic Fest is coming up this Saturday and Sunday starting at noon both days. It’s free, so come out, bring a blanket or a chair and enjoy the live music in Wright Park.
Councilmember Thoms announced that in one month Tacoma will host a Celebration of Military Service in downtown Tacoma on Saturday evening, August 24. The event will begin at 5 pm with a concert in Tollefson Plaza, followed by a parade.
Councilmember Boe brought us an update on the Pacific Avenue Streetscape, inviting everyone to come down and see the work advancing between 7th and 15th on Pacific. Businesses look forward to your patronage, so come down, have dinner, have a beer, take a walk, and check out rain gardens and cobblestones. Work on the Stadium Way retaining wall is almost complete as well.
Councilmember Lonergan noted that the resolution approved tonight advancing the 2% utility earnings tax to the November ballot sets in motion a process that requires citizen involvement. Members of the public will be needed to compose “for” and “against” statements for the ballot measure. Applications will be available online or from the City Clerk’s office, and next Tuesday at 9 am the government performance and finance committee will meet to discuss the issue and appoint members. This is a tight timeline.
Deputy Mayor Campbell had four words to close the meeting: “Go to Ethnic Fest.”
For more on any of the items discussed at this week’s meeting, see Exit133’s City Business Preview for the week.
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