Council Roundup: November 26, 2018

Hotel, Financial Forecast, Gun Safety, and Economic Development
Posted on 11/29/2018

Council heard presentations from potential hotel developers and interviewed the developer teams. They also heard presentations on long-term financial forecasts, regional gun safety initiatives and measures, and local economic development efforts.

Developers Present Two Options for Burien’s First Hotel

Council held a special public session in order to hear presentations and interview developer teams interested in buying land from the City government in order to build a hotel.

The Hotel Advisory Committee provided Council with guidance on things to look for and questions to ask in the winning selection, including:

  • Who can execute and complete the construction most quickly?
  • How well does the project enliven downtown and connect to transit?

NW Realty Services, Inc.

The proposal from this firm would build a hotel with 112 guest rooms, indoor pool, a 2000 square feet conference room, and a 3000 square feet restaurant space, including an outdoor seating area.

Hotel Concepts

This firm would build a hotel with 140 guest rooms and 100 units of market-rate multi-family housing.

On December 17, 2018, Council is expected to decide on the developer team with which they will negotiate a sale and development agreement.

City Financial Forecast

The City hired the FCS Group to provide a ten year General Fund forecast. The firm analyzed a baseline scenario based on the 2019–2020 preliminary budget as well as scenarios related to a variety of revenue options and enhanced service levels.

Key takeaways:

  • The 2019–2020 preliminary budget is balanced, meaning ongoing expenditures are balanced with ongoing revenues. Reserves are used for one-time capital expenditures.
  • Sales tax annexation credit expires July 2020 ($1 million annually), creating a gap between revenues and expenditures starting in 2021.
  • Potential funding needs include enhanced public safety, a maintenance facility for Public Works and Parks Maintenance, and a new community center.
  • Enhanced service funding requires combination of Council action revenue sources and voter-approved options.

FCS Group presented five financial plan options, including:

  • Revenue options that only require Council approval: These include utility tax or franchise fees for specific utilities, business license fee increase, gambling tax increase, and Business and Occupation (B&O) tax increase.
  • Expenditure Reductions: Significant reductions in expenditures would need to begin in 2021 without more revenue, which would lead to a reduced level of service for Burien residents.
  • Levy Lid Lift (requires voter approval): Voters may choose to “lift” the property tax levy lid. If a levy lid lift is approved in 2020, revenue increases would begin in 2021. Assuming no other revenue options are implemented, a permanent multi-year lid lift would eliminate the gap through 2030.
  • Enhanced Services Funding Plan: Enhanced services to address public safety include two new police officers in 2019, two new officers in 2020, and enhanced youth services. The proposal states that Council action revenue options (such as increased utility tax/franchise fee and gambling tax increase) could be used to pay for the services. Starting in 2021, a levy lid lift would be required to continue funding and in 2026 a new revenue source would need to be identified to continue funding through 2030.
  • City Manager’s Option and Consideration: This enhanced services funding plan includes the same enhancement of services detailed above except with the new officers starting in 2020 and 2021, but would be paid for through the use of reserves, utility tax or franchise fee increase, gambling tax increase, levy lid lift, and business license increase. This scenario does not include an increase in B&O taxes.

No action was taken at the Council meeting regarding these options. Council will discuss in more detail revenue options requiring Council approval at the December 3, 2018 Council meeting.

Discussion on gun safety

The City Manager and Chief of Police provided an update on regional gun safety regulations that have been passed or are being considered by King County and Washington State.

Update on economic development

Economic Development Manager Andrea Snyder gave an update on the work her team is doing to attract and retain businesses in Burien.

  • Business visits: She stated that her team has been on 165 business visits this year, 36 percent of them minority owned and 30 percent women-owned businesses. Business visits provide opportunities for staff to help local business owners solve problems. For example, a few months ago, a major power outage on 1st Ave S caused significant impacts to local business owners. The City’s economic development staff were able to connect those businesses to a Seattle City Light claim process so they could potentially be reimbursed for their losses.
  • Business and development attraction: Economic development staff attract new business investment through communications, outreach, and targeted use of incentives.