Council Roundup: November 5, 2018

Hotel, Tenant Protections, Budget, Public Safety
Posted on 11/07/2018

Council received an update on the hotel development opportunity, a new tenant protections initiative, and options for enhancing public safety. Council also discussed the proposed 2019–2020 budget.

City receives proposals from hotel developers

Three hotel developers submitted proposals to construct a hotel on City-owned land in downtown Burien. The 1.3-acre undeveloped property is located on SW 150th between 1st and 4th Ave.

An advisory committee made up of experts in finance, hotel development, hotel operations, and large events planning helped create the request for proposals (RFP). The committee will help score the responses from developers and will recommend a developer to Burien City Council by December.

Learn about the hotel development opportunity.

Tenant Protections

City Manager Brian J. Wilson outlined staff progress on engaging stakeholders in a community conversation about policies to protect tenants. Staff will be organizing town hall meetings in the next few months to gather feedback, and present draft ordinances for Council discussion by first quarter 2019.

Council also discussed whether to send a City inspector to Fox Cove apartments. After discussion with the City Attorney in executive session, the Council voted to not send an inspector the apartments.

Proposed Budget

Council continued the discussion of the 2019-2020 budget. Council agreed that the following were high priorities, and should be included in the budget:

  • Balance ongoing revenues with ongoing expenditures. Staffing remains at near current levels.
  • Begin to plan now to address the significant gap in forecasted revenues and expenditures that begins in 2021.
  • Closely monitor the SCORE Jail contract, and advocate for lower costs.
  • Raise City staff minimum wage to $15 per hour.
  • Include in this budget the 5% increase in 2019 for the police contract.

Council will take time to evaluate a detailed matrix of unfunded needs in the next week, and will discuss them at the November 19 Council meeting. 

View detailed proposed 2019–2020 budget.

Property Tax and Other Revenues

As part of a regular budget process, Council establishes an annual property tax levy.
By law, the annual amount of increase is limited to the lesser of one percent or the percentage increase in inflation metric (Implicit Price Deflator). This year the Implicit Price Deflator is greater than one percent (2.169%), so the City is limited to the one percent increase, which will bring approximately $78,000 more revenue for the City in 2019.

Per the City's financial policies, this amount is included in the 2019–2020 preliminary budget. A homeowner with a median home value will pay approximately $6 more per year in property tax. Current estimates predict the City will receive approximately $8 million in property tax revenue in 2019. This is equal to 26 percent of our total General Fund budget.

Council began a discussion of potential revenue sources to address increasing demands for service due to population growth as well as an upcoming structural deficit. Revenue sources presented included increases in Seattle City Light franchise fees, adopting water and sewer franchise fees, increasing licensing fees, among others.

Key terms explained:

  • General Fund: The general fund is the primary operating fund of the City. It pays for ongoing services such as police, parks, economic development, recreation, community development, and general government administration.
  • Property Tax Levy: As part of the budget process, the City establishes an annual property tax levy. The levy is the total amount to be collected from the taxpayers. By state law, the annual amount of increase is limited to the lesser of one percent or the percentage increase in the Implicit Price Deflator.
  • Implicit Price Deflator: A figure used to measure inflation.
  • Financial Policy: Guidelines for the City Council and staff to use in making financial decisions that ensure core services are maintained and the Council’s vision for the community is achieved. In addition, financial ensure residents’ tax dollars are being used openly, legally, efficiently, and effectively and in a manner that provides insulation from fiscal crisis and economic disruption.

Watch a video explaining how property tax works.

Options to Enhance Public Safety

The city manager presented options to increase and enhance police and social services for youth and families and Council began a discussion about both which options made the most sense for Burien and how to pay for it. Council will continue to discuss this topic as part of the budget process.

View full public safety enhancement proposal.

The proposal highlights a balanced approach of human services and suppression in an attempt to address the underlying causes of youth crime, gang/group violence, criminal behavior, enhanced public safety, and the perception of safety within the community. Emphasis was placed on the need to align local efforts with regional and state efforts.

The Enhanced Youth Services Proposal increases navigation, outreach, and case management services. As well as more funding for additional program sites and afterschool programs and services operated by the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department. The total annual budget for the proposal is $739,000.

The proposal would also increase police staffing levels by 12 commissioned officers, at $200,000 per officer, which would return the department to pre-annexation staffing levels of 1.20 officers per thousand population. Specifically, the proposal would add patrol officers and gang unit detectives.

Current investments

Earlier this fall, the Human Services Commission recommended and Council approved $155,000 in investments in children and youth, specific to violence prevention, with the 2019-2020 Human Services General fund and Human Services Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) fund.

The 2019-2020 budget also sets aside approximately $13 million each for police services, which pays for 43.8 police personnel as well as equipment, 911, K-9 unit and other essential police resources. Burien Police Department currently has 1.03 police officers per 1,000 residents. This rate is among the lowest among the King County Sheriff’s Office contract cities. The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department also runs teen programming in local schools.

More information