Council Roundup: November 2, 2020

Native Land Acknowledgment, COVID-19, Budget, City Council Meeting Guidelines, Comprehensive Plan
Posted on 11/05/2020
Budget and picture of council.

Council discussed a Native land acknowledgment, heard updates on the relief funding for local businesses and on COVID-19 rates in Burien, discussed state legislative priorities, adopted new water and sewer utility taxes, discussed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, and continued discussion of the 2021–2022 budget and council meeting guidelines.

Council discussed and placed several items on the consent agenda to be approved at the November 16, 2020 meeting. They also approved several items that had been placed on the consent agenda, including the Burien Urban Forest Stewardship Plan, funding for a study of indoor air quality in schools, state and federal legislative priorities, and more. 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.


Native Land Acknowledgment Discussed

Council discussed a process for developing a Native land acknowledgment that that honors Burien’s past and present while also offering a commitment for the future. Councilmembers and staff will work with the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and the Duwamish Longhouse to develop a Native land acknowledgment tailored to Burien. Once approved, the land acknowledgment will be placed on the Council meeting agenda to be read aloud at each meeting. It will also be published on the City’s website and spoken at major public events and gatherings.

Woman wearing mask. #BurienForwardTogether.

More Businesses to Receive Pandemic Relief Funding

Staff announced that $500,000 in business relief funds will be distributed to 100 businesses by November 30. The types of businesses receiving funds are diverse—restaurants, child care providers, retail operations, and more. Eighty-two percent of recommended awardees are women, minority, or veteran-owned businesses. This represents the second round of pandemic relief funding going to Burien business through the City’s program.

Chief Marrs Encourages Community to Stay Safe this Fall

King County Fire District #2 Chief Mike Marrs gave an update on the rising numbers of COVID-19 in Burien and King County. He shared that the highest number of new cases are among 20-29 year old age group, and while they are often asymptomatic or experience mild symptoms, they can still transmit the virus to older people or those with underlying health conditions. He encouraged the community to take precautions during the holidays. He also stated that while our local hospital capacity is stable right now, there is a real risk that hospitals will get overwhelmed if we don’t get the spread of COVID-19 under control. This is already occurring in other parts of the country. He encouraged everyone to get the flu shot and to get tested if they feel symptoms. Right now, not enough people in Burien are getting tested.

Phone and remote control.

Council Adopts New Water and Sewer Utility Taxes

Council adopted a new 8 percent tax on local water and sewer utility districts.  The utility taxes are imposed on the local districts and not on the utility customers. The new tax will go into effect January 1, 2021.

This tax will bring in approximately $1.3 million  to help fund important programs and services. For most households, it could increase their water and sewer bills by 5-6 dollars. Staff is exploring how to add the water and utility taxes to the Burien Utility Tax Relief Program for low-income households.

Budget and picture of council.

Budget Discussions Continue

Council held the second of three public hearings on the 2021–2022 budget. Staff continued presentations and discussion on details of the budget. Three previous meetings focused on overall revenues and expenditures and details on the General Fund. Monday’s discussion focused on the remaining funds:

  • Property Tax Levy – This could bring in approximately $69,000 in revenue and would cost the average homeowner around $5 more per year.
  • Surface Water Management Service Charges Paid by residences and businesses through King County’s property tax collection process. The funds pay for the maintenance and improvement of the City’s storm drainage system.
  • Public Works Reserve Fund – The Real estate excise tax contributes to this account. Money is used to pay for debt service and some is set aside to partially fund a slope stabilization project.
  • Equipment Reserve Fund – Paid for through transfers from the General Fund. This finances future equipment replacement, such as small tools, minor and large equipment, and vehicles.
  • Art in Public Places Fund – Used to acquire, repair, and maintain works of art identified by the Burien Arts Commission.
  • Capital Projects Reserve Fund – Finances capital projects.
  • Transportation Benefit District Fund – The Washington State Supreme Court decision on I-976 reinstated the TBD Vehicle Fee. Funds are used to pay debt service on prior street overlay projects and pay for the current Pavement Management Program.
  • State Drug Enforcement Forfeiture Fund – Money comes from the seizure of proceeds related to the sale and manufacture of illicit drugs. The use of these funds is restricted, by State law, to purchases that would enhance the ability of the local police to investigate drug-related crimes and incidents.

Council asked staff to seek ways to continue funding for youth programs. They also discussed a potential increase to the B&O tax, which will be brought to Council for discussion at a future date.

Budget next steps:

  • Adoption of Property Tax Levy and Surface Water Management Service Charges – November 16
  • Introduction of 2021–2022 Budget Ordinance – November 16
  • Third and final public hearing – December 7
  • Adoption of budget ordinance, including 2021 Financial Policies – December 7

Council Continues Discussion of Council Meeting Guidelines

Council adopted updates to the Burien City Council Meeting Guidelines. Guidelines provide additional guidance, beyond requirements set by state law, on how the Council runs their meetings. Most of the changes make the guidelines easier to read and procedural updates to make the meetings easier to run.

Some notable procedural changes include:

  • Council will be able to support more than two proclamations per councilmember per year. More information will be brought to Council in the future regarding flag raising requests.
  • More inclusive language was proposed, replacing “he/she” with “they” and replacing references to “citizen” with “community”.
  • Public comment period has been extended from 20 to 30 minutes.
  • A new process for addressing disorderly behavior from a councilmember.

Comprehensive Plan Undergoes Annual Update

Council began a discussion on 2020 amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, consistent with the 2020 docket adopted on April 20, 2020.

Proposed amendments include:

  1. Incorporate the Transportation Master Plan and Urban Center Plan by reference.
  2. Relocate Chapter 4.0 (Existing Conditions) and Chapter 5.0 (Issues & Impacts) as appendices to the Comprehensive Plan.
  3. Revise language in the introduction of Chapter 2.0 (Policies) to be consistent with Burien’s goals for increased housing capacity.

The Comprehensive Plan is a 20-year master plan managing growth in Burien. Many cities are required to have a Comprehensive Plan under the Growth Management Act.

Earlier this year, Council adopted a new timeline for annual amendments to the Comprehensive Plan. The City can accept applications from groups or individuals proposing an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan between September 1 and November 1.