Council Roundup: October 18, 2021

Budget, Planning for ARPA, Rental Housing Business License Fees, Subminimum Wage
Posted on 10/21/2021
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The Burien City Council continued discussions on the 2021-2022 mid-biennium budget update, adopted an ordinance making rental housing business license fees consistent with all other business license fees, and discussed a resolution to oppose subminimum wages in Burien.

Staff Present Recommendations for 2021-2022 Mid-biennium Budget Update

The second of a series of presentations on the 2021-2022 mid-biennium budget update occurred, including a public hearing on revenue sources and expenditures. The presentations focused on capital programs and other funds. An additional study session is scheduled for November 18 to provide more opportunity to review and discuss the mid-biennium budget update. Community members are invited to weigh in by providing public comment at scheduled public meetings or emailing comments to council@burienwa.gov. The mid-biennium budget update is scheduled to be adopted this December.

Major budget increases address priorities identified by the City Council during their February and March retreat sessions.

  1. Build the Shared Public Works/PaRCS Facility. Increase allocation from the General Fund from $7 million to $9 million to pay for a new maintenance facility for parks and public works maintenance as well as for an emergency operations center. The facility will be shared by Highline Public Schools. Staff are currently evaluating sites.
  2. Prioritize Funding for Infrastructure, PaRCS, and Finance. Increases to the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) will pay for revised project costs for the following projects: mitigation of a landslide area in Seahurst Park, Eagle Landing Park stairway removal, HVAC replacement at Burien Community Center, Moshier Park field and restroom improvements, Ambaum Blvd SW and RapidRide H Line pathway improvements, and other park-related capital and facility projects. The Capital Projects Reserve will get more investment to help save for future capital projects and bringing back the equipment budget to pre-pandemic levels. Scheduled replacement and upgrades to City vehicles will also occur, with a focus on purchasing electric vehicles when possible.
  3. Identify Revenue Sources. In the last biennial budget cycle, staff presented a long-range financial plan identifying a looming structural imbalance, meaning expenditures would potentially outpace revenues in 2024 if changes were not made. To maintain the City’s sound financial position, the long-range financial plan presented possible new revenue sources. The City Council adopted three revenue options during the last budget cycle: expanded utility tax, rental housing business license fees, and an increase to business license fees. Staff is not recommending any additional revenue options for the mid-biennium budget update. Staff presented possible voter-approved revenue options that could be explored in the future, including a 1% public safety sales tax, property tax levy lid lift, utility tax increase, and forming a metropolitan parks district.
  4. Attract Investment and Address Zoning Challenges; Create Opportunities for Community. Staff presented information about a pilot commercial development demonstration program that would help inform potential zoning changes and future City efforts to stimulate urban development in Burien’s commercial areas. Assessment of the Affordable Housing Demonstration Program, Comprehensive Plan updates, and Transportation Master Plan updates are also scheduled to occur. Parking enforcement will purchase a license plate reader to help better enforce parking rules.
  5. Public Safety Services. Earlier this year, the City Council approved public safety investments focused on downtown Burien. The new program will be potentially funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

Other staff-recommended investments:

  • Human Services: Staff is recommending the addition of a Human Services Coordinator who would serve as contract specialist to help manage current and future grant requirements for human services and some public safety programs. Currently the Human Services Manager supports 34 grant programs annually. An increase to the per capita rate for the Human Services Fund was also proposed.
  • Public Safety: The Building Resilience and Violence Education (BRAVE) grant from the Department of Commerce supports a partnership between the City of Burien, Highline Public Schools, King County Prosecutor, and YMCA to identify youth in 6th through 10th grades that are demonstrating experimental behavior with gangs and also breaking away from healthy support structures such as school and sports.
  • Public health: Funding for public restrooms and hand sanitizing stations at playgrounds was proposed.
  • Airport: Funding for a consultant to help the City respond to the Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) was proposed.
  • Strategic Plan: Funding for a consultant to help the City Council develop a 3–5-year strategic plan was proposed.
  • Emergency preparedness: Staff recommended the addition of a temporary, full-time position to support emergency management. 
  • Equity, diversity, and inclusion: Staff recommended funding for consultant services and training to support internal equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts.
  • ARPA: Staff proposed that $1,753,000 million be spent for the downtown enhanced security initiative, a consultant to help with ARPA administration, cybersecurity and network infrastructure improvements, and upgrades to meeting rooms and the City Council Chambers to support hybrid virtual and in-person meetings. A public engagement process will occur for the remaining $7.1 million of ARPA funding that has been allocated to the City of Burien.

Contract Approved for Consultant to Support ARPA Planning and Administration

The City Council discussed a contract to hire a consultant to aid the City’s planning and administrative requirements for use of $10.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding. The federal funding must be obligated by December 31, 2024, spent by December 31, 2026, and can only be used for certain expenditures. The consultant will help support community engagement.

Code Amendment Aligns Rental Housing Business License Renewal Period to All Other Business License Renewal Periods

The City Council approved a housekeeping measure to change the application and renewal period of rental housing business licenses to match a May 2020 update in the business license code. Instead of renewing annually every January, both rental housing and other business licenses will renew annually on the month the initial license application was received. For example, if a license application is submitted in March, the license will need to be renewed each March.

Subminimum Wage Resolution Discussed

The City Council placed on the consent agenda for the next meeting approval of a resolution that would prohibit the City or any of its contractors from participating in any program that would result in people with disabilities being paid less than the minimum wage. There are currently no City programs or contractors that pay subminimum wage.

In April, the state amended RCW 49.46.170 to prohibit the Department of Labor and Industries from issuing any new special certificates for the employment at less than the minimum wage for individuals with disabilities.

BEDP and City Council to Hold Joint Meeting

The Business and Economic Development Partnership advisory board and the City Council will host a joint public meeting on November 12, 2021 from 7:30–9:00 a.m. to discuss potential pathways for enhanced collaboration and partnership between the City Council and the Burien business community.

Review Process for Enhanced Services Facilities to be Reviewed by the City Council

On June 1, 2020, the Burien City Council voted to allow Enhanced Services Facilities (ESFs) in all zones in Burien that allow residential uses. Through this process, the City Council did not specify the review type to which ESFs would be subject to in single-family zones. Staff would like to clarify a specific Zoning Code provision relating to ESFs. The discussion will focus only on the type of review process that should be followed.

The City Council will discuss at a future meeting which type of review process should be in place for ESFs. There are no applications for ESFs that have been proposed in Burien at this time.