Council Roundup: August 17, 2020

Public Safety, Climate Action Plan, Long-range Financial Forecast, Affordable Housing Funding
Posted on 08/19/2020
Photo of Miller Creek

Council approved an interlocal agreement to enhance Miller Creek, discussed a resolution to allocate funding for affordable housing, approved a contingency budget for the Burien Annex demolition project, discussed progress on climate action plan, and discussed process to engage the community in a conversation about public safety. Council also approved several items on the consent agenda.

Council discussed and placed several items on the consent agenda to be approved at the September 21, 2020 meeting. The Council usually has a “two-touch” process and will often place items on the consent agenda to be approved at the next regularly scheduled meeting.

Rent Assistance Programs Available to Burien Residents

Council heard an update on local, state, and federal rent support programs. To date, funding has not kept up with demand. Find more resources at

  • CARES Act ($200,000): The City of Burien distributed $200,000 from federal CARES Act funding to local organizations providing rent and utility payment assistance, as well as support for other essential needs in the community. Rent assistance payments were capped at $500 to serve the greatest number of families. Many of the families that sought assistance owed between $1,000 and $3,000 to their housing provider.
  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-CV) ($284,503): Managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), these funds address needs related to public health, coronavirus, housing, and economic disruption.
  • Eviction Rent Assistance Program Consolidated Homeless Grant and Office of Homeless Youth ($100,000): Funding for organizations who already have rental assistance administration established. In south King County, Multi-Service Center, YMCA, and Nexus Youth and Families received Office of Homeless Youth funding to disburse to community members in need.
  • King County Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program (EPRAP) ($28 million): Washington State allocated $28 million to King County for eviction prevention. This program will launch this week. More details to come.
  • Immigrant Relief Fund ($40 million): Gov. Jay Inslee announced the creation of two funds to help workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Immigrant Relief Fund will provide $40 million to assist Washington residents who are unable to access federal stimulus programs due to their immigration status, and the Food Production Paid Leave Program will provide $3 million of financial resources to certain food production workers who remain home when ill.

Photo of Miller Creek

Project Will Help Restore Fish Passage in Miller Creek

Council placed on the consent agenda approval of two interlocal agreements with the Port of Seattle and City of SeaTac to provide funding and permission to use right-of-way property for the Miller Creek Enhancements Project. The project will restore a segment of Miller Creek that flows through Burien and SeaTac.

The existing creek is steep and travels through a small, aging culvert and into a pipe on private property under a public storage facility. The current condition of the creek is not healthy for fish, such as salmon. The proposed improvements lengthen and flatten the creek and daylight a large segment by relocating the Des Moines Memorial Drive culvert crossing to the south.

The enhancements will help replace a failing culvert with a 17' wide fish-passable box culvert, eliminating an existing barrier to salmon. Water quality treatment infrastructure, new vegetated floodplains, and new stream features such as pools and riffles, stream boulders and logs to help aerate the creek, and vegetation for shading, will also be added.

Funding for the project comes from City of Burien Stormwater Management Fund, Department of Ecology, and the Port of Seattle.

Funding for Affordable Housing will Remain with South King County Housing and Homelessness Partners

Council approved last December the pooling of affordable housing funds from Washington State House Bill 1406 with other South King County cities participating in South King County Housing and Homelessness Partners (SKHHP). Under the new state law, approximately $65,477 of Burien’s sales tax revenue will go to support affordable housing initiatives for the next 20 years.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has prompted some cities participating in SKHHP to use their contributions for short-term rental assistance. Staff recommended that Council not follow this route because the SKHHP funding pool provides an opportunity to seek even more funds and make a greater impact on the housing affordability needs in south King County. The administrative overhead required and the small number of residents that would be helped were also considered when making the decision to keep the funds in a shared funding pool.

Annex Demolition Project

Council approved an increase to the Burien Annex Demolition Project’s budget in order to provide a 20 percent contingency fund. The contingency fund would only be used if the contractor finds more hazardous materials than anticipated, underground utilities, or other issues that were not known before initiating the contract. Without a contingency, the City may need to halt the project for weeks to seek Council budget authority for potential change orders.

Illustration of checklist on clipboard and earth with buildings and vegetation.

Sustainable Climate Action Plan

Council heard progress on the development of a sustainable climate action plan for Burien. The plan establishes a road map for greenhouse gas emission reduction and sustainability for Burien. City staff are currently reviewing greenhouse gas emission data to complete forecasts and set targets for emissions reduction.

Data collected for the for Burien’s 2019 greenhouse gas inventory shows that transportation and energy make up 94 percent of Burien’s greenhouse gas emissions.

2019 Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Burien, WA

City of Burien Climate Action Plan Data Collection

Source: City of Burien Climate Action Plan Data Collection, presented to Burien City Council on August 17, 2020

The project timeline:

  • August 2019: Council directs staff to develop a sustainable climate action plan, and approves funding to join Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI)
  • January 2020: City of Burien joins ICLEI, and joins a cohort of other cities developing their climate action plans
  • March 2020: Staff, with support from ICLEI, begins collecting data for a 2019 greenhouse gas inventory for Burien. This is one of the more time-consuming components of the plan development because it involves collecting data from multiple sources. For example, Burien has a dozen utility companies from which to collect data, and utility districts cross jurisdiction boundaries. The COVID-19 pandemic has made some data collection efforts more challenging.
  • By end of September 2020: Analyze phase will calculate greenhouse gas emissions forecast and set reduction targets, finalize outreach plan, consult King County-Cities Climate Collaboration toolkit.
  • Winter-Spring 2021: Implement a community outreach strategy
  • Summer-Fall 2021: Finalize plan by synthesizing community feedback and incorporating into plan. Present plan to council.

Photo of budget documents and a calculator.

2020 General Fund Long Range Financial Forecast

Staff presented the 2020 long-range financial forecast. As part of the biennial budget process, the forecast helps to identify revenue and expenditure trends and is a critical step in the budgeting process. In 2018, the City hired the FCS Group to create a long-term financial plan for the City’s General Fund. The plan found that starting in 2021, the City’s expenditures would be greater than its revenues, resulting in a structural imbalance. This was caused by the expiration of an annual $1 million sales tax annexation credit, property tax limited to 1 percent increase by state law, and cost of providing services increasing beyond the City’s ability to generate revenue. The City operates with approximately 30 percent less staff than neighboring cities of similar size.

Because of the COVID-19 economic recession, there is an expected $4.9 million (or 16 percent) decrease in revenue for 2020. The City has already made $1.5 million in net expenditure reductions, including furloughs, layoffs, program reductions, and deferred maintenance of parks and other infrastructure, and is identifying potential deeper cuts for the 2021-22 budget.

The City Manager presented a “worst case scenario” in terms of cuts to expenditures, which would result in reduction of service. The cuts include no cost of living increase for City staff in 2021, more furlough days, and pooling of resources across departments. These cuts would result in reduced level of service to the community. Potential service reductions could include:

  • Longer wait times for services and response to community concerns across all departments.
  • Reduced funding for the Human Services Fund, which provides support for organizations providing direct service and less staff to seek new funding opportunities.
  • Police services limited to significant high priority 911 calls
  • No traffic calming, slower response to street repairs, less litter pickup.
  • Closure of Town Square Splash Pad.
  • Reduced efforts to attract new businesses to Burien and less financial and technical support for local businesses.
  • Reduced or canceled long-range planning projects.
  • Reduced communications and outreach.
  • Delayed implementation of critical software projects.

Council will be holding a special study session on the 2021–2022 budget on September 10, 2020. At that time, staff will present revenue options for consideration. Council will see the preliminary budget on October 5, 2020 and will adopt the final budget on December 7, 2020.

Illustration of police and public safety icons with comment bubbles.

Public Safety Community Engagement

On August 3, 2020, the Burien City Council directed the City Manager to recommend a public engagement process for the City Council and the Burien community on the subject of public safety. The goals of this process is to learn what public safety means to the community, to identify where the Burien community believes there are gaps in public safety, hear how to improve public safety, and hear what the Burien community’s priorities are for the budget, policing, and human services. Staff presented several options for engaging the community and Council approved all the options presented.

Council will host the first public meeting on public safety on September 14, 2020 (details will be announced soon). Details on a longer, more in-depth process will be announced in the future.

Letter to Executive Constantine Urges Continued Support of LEAD Programs

Council directed the City Manager to send a letter to King County Executive Dow Constantine, urging continued funding for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program (LEAD) and the COVID-19 version of the program, Co-LEAD.

Support for Grant to Improve Bus Service in South King County

Council directed the City Manager to send a letter in support of a Washington State Department of Transportation Regional Mobility program grant. The funding would be used to make transit improvements along routes 164, 166, and 181 corridors to reduce peak hour bus travel times, improve service reliability, increase transit ridership, and improve access to transit.