(Observer's Note: I missed the first 15 minutes of the meeting, and then had trouble accessing the meeting by using Redmond.gov/rctvlive, one of the ways to view the Council suggested in their agenda. I ended up using their Facebook page.)
The meeting started out smoothly, but after 10-15 minutes two staffers reporting to the Council had connection difficulties. After that, there was a power-point presentation, and at the end of that presentation we never went back to a typical Zoom format; all you could see was the empty City Council room in Redmond.
Discussion of the “Transportation Improvement Program” (TIP)
At the close of the staff presentation there was time for public comment, and two people commented on ways to make roads and transportation ‘greener’ by the City.
Discussion of 2021-22 City Budget Process
The discussion focused on gathering input on top priorities.
Staff reported on the indexing of impact fees and the proposed 2021 fees. Impact fees are one-time charges on commercial and residential developments. The fees help the City pay for improvements known as “capacity” improvements – this refers to adding something to City costs which occurs because of an increase in Redmond’s population. Impact fees contribute to the budgets of Fire, Parks/Recreation, and Transportation, for example. Redmond also collects impact fees on behalf of the Lake Wash School District. Several city council members wanted more information on where the income stream from impact fees is spent.
Official minutes from this meeting can be found here.
Virtual Meeting Highlights:
The Council met from 7:30pm - 11pm. League Observe believes attendance and approval of prior meetings minutes took place before she logged in.
Members Present: Mayor Angela Birney, Councilmembers Tanika Kumar Padhye, Jeralee Anderson (President), David Carson (Vice-President), Steve Fields, Jessica Forsythe, Varisha Khan, Vanessa Kritzer.
Presentation on 2021-22 Budget
First up was a presentation by the Finance Dep. Director Kelley Cochran on the 2021-26 Financial Forecast. First she
spoke to how they made up for the $6 million gap this year due to the virus. They eliminated 9 vacant
positions and took reductions in a variety of services.
There is planned $202 million general fund revenue for 2021 - 22. Taxes make up 61% of this revenue. The
State-shared revenue portion is at risk because the State has its own budget issues due to the virus.
Operating Expenses are predominantly Salaries and Benefits at 65% of total operating expenses.
Budget risks include:
1. Sales tax collections because sales are down.
2. State-shared revenue and
3. Utility tax revenue, which is also down as businesses are vacant and/or employees are working from home.
Business license renewals took place in Feb./Mar. so they were normal this year, but there is a
planned drop of 14% for next year.
CM Forsythe: Wanted to know where the shared revenue goes.
Answer from Cochran: This is mandated. Marijuana revenue goes to public safety. Motor Vehicle tax revenue goes to maintenance of streets. Criminal justice revenue goes to public safety. One percent property tax increase planned is $260,000. One percent is the max increase allowed in any given year.
Cochran said things keeping her up at night were how odd the recession is (business is down but development is still ongoing and strong); and trying to figure out how to maintain services when ongoing revenue is decreasing.
CM Khan: We need to look at other revenue generating opportunities to cover the 2021 - 2022 gap of
$13 million. Not just look at expenditure cuts.
CM Fields: Agreed with Khan and said we also need to restructure the business license fees. Recreation revenue was down by $3 million, a 48% decrease due to the virus, not having classes. Fields said he was wondering how difficult it would be to restart the rec programs if they continue to be cancelled. Will there be staffing issues, expertise lost?
Utilities revenue will be down in 2021 - 2022 due to lack of water demand from commercial customers. In May, demand dropped 70%, now at about 40%. It was also noted that Redmond purchases 60% of their water from Cascade Alliance each year at a fixed amount.
The budget will be presented on Oct. 6, followed by reviews and a final budget for approval on December 1.
Next up was an open discussion on the development of legislative priorities for Redmond for 2021. The city lobbyist reviewed some of the priorities from this year and suggested the council agree on four to six for the upcoming year. That there would be better chances of success if we limit our focus and maximise our resources.
Many different suggestions were put forth by various council members.
- How do we transition when the moratorium on evictions is lifted;
- Carbon tax;
- Ban on neck holds;
- Mental health
- Community response
- Extension of rent increase freeze / lift ban on rent control
- Climate change
A draft will be compiled in October for review in Nov. and approval Dec. 1.
(9:43 - 9:50 break)
Housing Action Plan
This was only an information update on the approach and goals for the plan - no plan was presented. The questions the council asked last time were in attachments they received.
CM Kritzer: Asked that when the plan is presented it include an environmental impact/sustainability
piece. In November the draft of housing strategies will be presented for review, adjustments and plan to be
adopted in April 2021.
The council statement drafted by Fields and Forsythe was discussed. It is called a Climate Emergency Declaration. Council members had only gotten the draft that day and requested more time to review and make comments. The purpose of the declaration is to provide a sense of urgency, put mobilisation in Mayor’s court and state the importance to work with other communities.
Council Talk Time
Last on the agenda was council talk time. Council members needed to apply for participation in
various Sound Cities Association ("SCA") meetings. The due date is Oct 4. It is important that they organise application because only one council member can serve on a specific committee. If two accidentally apply, both will be excused from that particular committee.
Members Present: Jeralee Anderson, David Carson, Steve Fields, Jessica Forsythe, Vanessa Kritzer, Tanika Kumar Padhye
Absent: Varisha Khan
There was only one agenda item - SCORE interlocal agreement for jail services. SCORE is a correctional entity. It is a regionally owned jail in Des Moines, WA serving several cities in WA with a maximum capacity of 802 inmates.
The Chief of police was presenting the contract for renewal, starting January 1. The current contract is for a maximum of 15 inmates at any one time and they are suggesting to move it down to 12.
CM Forsythe said that based on the detail info provided it looked like Redmond used on average only 3 spots so did not understand why we needed more. She wanted to understand the methodology in the report to better understand the numbers. She also said that crime went up and she wanted to know specifically in what areas crime was increasing.
The Chief said he would research the methodology and get back to the committee next week. The increase in crime was primarily in property crime.
CM Fields wanted to know why we do this every year so late in the year and why this is the only agenda item. It is not very efficient to manage this way.
The Chief (is new this year it sounded like) so he could not speak on earlier years. He only could say that SCORE was putting together a new fee structure and they had to wait on that before scheduling to be on the agenda.
CM Kritzer asked what the risk is if we go down to 9 and the Chief said he could potentially not have enough beds and/or go over the budget. CM Kritzer also asked for a little overview on SCORE.
It was agreed to accept answers from the Chief in an email next week and schedule it for the agenda on the October 1 meeting.
CM Forsythe then said she agreed a short one item agenda is odd, especially when the last meeting had 8 items and ran well over the planned time ( 1 hour). She said we all need to work better to better plan meetings. She then asked about a fire code issue related to a construction project of a five story wood structure. The Chief agreed to get detail information in an email out to them next week.
CM Anderson then thanked the Captain on the call as this was his last meeting. He was moving on to be the Chief of Police in Marysville. All said thank you to him.