Council Roundup: November 16, 2020

Retail Theft Program, Rental Housing, Budget, City Manager Evaluation
Posted on 11/23/2020

Council learned about a new retail theft prevention program, approved minor changes to the rental housing code language, continued discussion of the 2021–2022 Budget, and approved a new process for evaluating the city manager.

Delivery driver.

Council Considers Local Restrictions on Third-Party Delivery Fee

Earlier this year, Council passed Resolution 432, calling on the state to limit third-party platform restaurant delivery fees, which can cost up to 30 percent of one takeout order, and can be a challenge to profitability for local restaurants. Since that time, Burien has been coordinating with other jurisdictions, who are also lobbying for state action. Council agreed to consider a local ordinance restricting the fees if the state did not act. Governor Jay Inslee issued a proclamation on November 19 capping delivery fees at 15 percent and total fees at 18 percent of the purchase price of an order. The proclamation takes effect Wednesday, Nov. 25, at 12:01 a.m.

Tables on sidewalk.

Supporting Burien’s Small Businesses Under New Restrictions

Staff presented information on the impact of the new public health orders on restaurants and bars and how the City of Burien will help support them. This includes distributing the funds to small businesses through small business grants. The City also stands ready to assist restaurants who would like to expand outdoor seating through the Burien Outdoor Dining Program, which expedites processing and waives permit fees for temporary use and right-of-way permits for outdoor dining patios. Staff is also in communication with downtown businesses to assess whether additional curbside priority pickup locations should be added, and staff is working with Discover Burien, the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce, and other partners to continue to encourage takeout and delivery orders from Burien restaurants.

Burien police car.

New Retail Theft Program Saves Time and Money

Burien Police Chief Ted Boe presented a new approach to tackling retail theft and save valuable police staff hours. The new Retail Theft Program gives businesses the ability to report incidents of shoplifting directly to an assigned Burien Police liaison. Under the new program, trained store security will identify and detain an individual suspected of shoplifting. The store security will then complete a witness statement, identify the suspect, call 9-1-1 to ensure there are no warrants, trespass and then release the suspect, and then forward the paperwork to the detective. The detective will review the report and prepare and forward the packet to the prosecutor. The prosecutor will then files charges and issue a summons.

There were 350 calls to the police to report retail theft in 2019. Under the former process, it takes 90 minutes on average to respond and fill out the paperwork for shoplifting incidents.

Minor Changes to Burien Rental Housing Code Language

Council approved minor modifications to the rental housing policies in the Burien Municipal Code. The changes would replace the word “buildings” with the phrase “residential rental housing complexes.”

2021-22 Budget. Youth and Teen Programs Human Services Fund B&O Tax. Illustration of city hall, council, and budget.

2021–2022 Budget Discussion Continues: Youth and Teen Programs, Human Services Fund, and B&O Tax

Council continued their discussion of the 2021–2022 Budget. Staff presented a significant update to the proposed budget that would support youth and teen programming in 2021. The restoration of the funding was made possible because funding from car tabs has been restored as a result of the Washington State Supreme Court ruling the car tabs initiative as unconstitutional.

The newly proposed funding for youth and teen services would be focused on helping support youth during the pandemic, as well as working with organizations that have expertise in working with youth involved with drugs, gangs, or other risky behavior. The new funding would maintain the Sports in Schools program, increase a recreation coordinator position from .75 to 1 FTE, and support a new approach to supporting families based on a framework approved by Council in 2018.

The Human Services Fund per capita rate will be increased from $6.50 to $6.56. The increased rate does not change the total amount of money allocated to the Human Services Fund. The new rate, combined with updated population estimates, means $345,000 will be allocated to the fund in 2021-22.

Staff also presented information on the business and occupation (B&O) tax, recommending that B&O tax not be raised at this time due to concerns about the impact it could have on already struggling small businesses. Council agreed that now is not the time to consider raising business taxes. Council directed the BEDP to come back with a recommendation for Council discussion in 2021.

Council also called for a more participatory, community-centered process for the next budget cycle.

The final public hearing and adoption of the budget is scheduled for December 7, 2020.

City Manager Evaluation Process Discussed

Council approved the hiring of a consultant to facilitate the evaluation process of the city manager. Council will review the consultant’s proposal at the November 23, 2020 meeting. The next city manager evaluation is scheduled to occur in December.