Council Roundup: November 1, 2021

Climate Action Plan, Federal Legislative Agenda, Budget, Trusted Community Partner Network, Planning Grants, Vaccine Mandate
Posted on 11/04/2021
Illustration of green space and document with check mark.

The Burien City Council placed on the consent agenda of the next regular meeting adoption of the City’s first community-level climate action plan, discussed their federal legislative agenda, and discussed the 2021–2022 mid-biennium budget update, including property tax levy and surface water management fees.

City Discusses Joining Trusted Community Partner Network

Representatives from the Port of Seattle and Seattle Metro Chamber presented on the Trusted Community Partner Network, a new program designed to help small businesses across King County recover from the COVID-19 pandemic-caused recession.

The new program is being administered by the Seattle Metro Chamber and plans to employ a network of community navigators who are part of existing organizations and have local ties. These navigators will be asked to provide culturally competent and in-language support to help business owners communicate with agencies, banks, and other official sources of assistance. The goal is for the program to be launched by the end of March 2022 after a period of community engagement.

The City Council will discuss at a future meeting whether to join the program. The cost to join is $50,000. The City may use American Rescue Plan Act funding to pay for membership.

City Receives Two Grants to Assist Planning for Housing and Transit-oriented Development

The City of Burien recently received two planning grants from the Washington Department of Commerce (DOC). 

The City received $100,000 to help implement aspects of the Housing Action Plan, which the City Council approved in 2021. Specifically, funding will support the Ambaum Boulevard and Boulevard Park community planning efforts, which are underway now. The City also received $250,000 to support pre-development environmental review in both planning areas. 

Funding for the grants was first initiated by the Washington State Legislature in 2019 and 2021 to support cities that are implementing Housing Action Plans to increase residential density, including affordable housing. The TOD grant is intended to support planning and pre-development environmental review in transit-rich areas. The City’s Community Development department staff applied for the grants in September of this year.

City Employee Vaccine Mandate Goes into Effect

The city manager announced an update on the City’s employee vaccination mandate. As of November 1, 2021, of 116 City employees, 109 are fully vaccinated, two have initiated the vaccination process, four have been approved for religious exemptions, and one employee has received a non-disciplinary termination. The City implemented a vaccine mandate for its employees in September. That policy went into effect on November 1, 2021.

2022 Federal Legislative Agenda Focuses on Wide Range of Issues

The City Council discussed their 2022 federal legislative priorities, placing their approval on the consent agenda for the next meeting. The priorities for 2022 focus on reducing airport noise and emissions, climate action, federal gang prevention and at-risk youth funding, infrastructure, gun violence, police reform, immigration, financial services, opportunity zones, salmon recovery, and marijuana law reform.

The City Council establishes state and federal legislative priorities every year. These agendas reflect the Council’s priorities. A legislative agenda enables staff and the City’s contract lobbyists to advocate and support legislation that benefits the City of Burien government and the Burien community. 

Climate Action Plan to be Adopted November 15

The City Council placed on the consent agenda of the next regular meeting adoption of the City’s first community-level climate action plan. The plan is the result of an analysis of Burien’s greenhouse gas emissions and months gathering community feedback and consultation with key stakeholders.

The plan covers strategies and actions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions resulting from local government and community activities. It addresses the major sources of emissions in Burien and presents strategies and actions in five focus areas that both the City government and community can implement together to achieve greenhouse gas reductions and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Staff presented a draft implementation plan detailing specific actions both the city government and community to take and a timeline for implementation. The implementation plan will be updated regularly as funding is secured or community conditions change.

Mid-biennium Budget Discussions Continue

Staff presented the third in a series of presentations about the 2021–2022 mid-biennium budget update. The City Council held the second of two public hearings and continued discussions with staff on updated revenue projections and proposed program and staff investments to support city government and community needs. Key new investments include adding more staffing across several departments, including more staffing to support public safety and human services. Staff are also proposing investments in equity, diversity, and inclusion programming, support for the development of a strategic plan, translation and interpretation services, closed captioning services for the City’s television channel, portable restrooms and hand sanitizing stations, new parks vehicles, and enhancements to the City’s software, network infrastructure, and cybersecurity systems. The City Council also continued discussions about how to best use American Rescue Plan Act funding.

Staff also presented information about a proposed one percent increase to the property tax levy and new surface water management fees. 

The City’s financial policies recommend the City Council raise the property tax levy each year by at least one percent more than levied in the prior year. State law prohibits property tax from being raised by more than one percent annually. The cost of delivering government services regularly goes up by greater than one percent per year. Relative to the City’s portion of the property tax, a homeowner with an estimated median assessed value of $458,000 will pay around the same amount due to the decrease in the tax rate that is driven by the increase in assessed valuation. State law provides property tax exemptions and property tax deferrals for senior citizens and disabled persons. Additional information about these programs is available on the county’s assessor website.

 Surface water management fees help fund the management of stormwater. The City’s financial policies recommend annual increases to these fees to adjust for inflation. This year, the proposed increase is 5.5% and is based on the Consumer Price Index-U (CPI-U) from June 2020 to June 2021. All property owners pay stormwater fees. Residential property owners pay a flat fee and commercial property owners pay a fee based on the amount of impervious surface on their property. Rate adjustments and appeals are available per the City’s code, including a low-income senior citizen property tax exemption.

 The City Council also discussed an increase in the per capita rate for human services programs from $6.56 to $6.92. They discussed at their last meeting increasing the Capital Partnership Reserve from $7 million to $9 million to assist with the funding of a future public works and parks maintenance facility.