MLT Council Reviews 2021 Departmental Performance Measures and Interlocal Affordable Housing Agreement
Mountlake Terrace City Council, at its January 13 business/study session, reviewed the City Services Performance Measures for July-December 2021.
In general, departmental performance measures increased last year compared to the previous year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
– Recreation programs and parks attendance nearly doubled as the department continued to reopen programs. It was noted that swimming lesson capabilities have been particularly comprehensive, and staff have worked to expand aquatic programs and gymnasium offerings where permitted.
– Fleet and property management has experienced difficulty hiring employees, which is impacting its ability to meet maintenance and other requests. However, Parks Services and Property Management Superintendent Ken Courtmanch said City Council’s approval of the addition of two in-house custodian positions has been a “boon” to the department and particularly helpful.
– There were 1,051 volunteer hours logged in park services last year, nearly double those logged in 2020.
– The Community and Economic Development Department significantly reduces the average number of days needed to make a decision on building permit applications. Directory Christy Osborn said the integration of online authorization software was a game-changer.
– Development activity in Mountlake Terrace remained strong and property values continued to rise across the city.
– There were 154 new work-from-home businesses last year, which was significantly up from 2020.
– Director of Public Works Eric LaFrance noted that the use of a rapid sewer line assessment tool allowed work crews to assess and maintain the city’s sewer lines much more quickly and efficiently.
– Nearly a third of Fleet Maintenance Shop hours continued to be billed to contracted agencies outside the department, such as the City of Shoreline.
– Regarding organizational development, the average time to fill municipal positions increased by more than three weeks.
– The number of public meetings held by the municipal council increased by 10%.
– Filling the vacant position of community relations specialist allowed the City to significantly increase its outreach efforts and social media presence. Community Relations Director Virginia Clough said the top social media posts continued to be related to public safety and the weather.
In other cases, counsel considered a proposal interlocal agreement with the Housing Authority of Snohomish County (HASCO) for the creation of affordable housing. Under the agreement, HASCO – as an independent contractor – would fulfill all the obligations of a housing authority in Mountlake Terrace. All of its housing development projects will always be subject to planning and zoning ordinances and regulations, unless otherwise waived by a resolution of the city council.
The agreement will allow HASCO to acquire and operate properties in Mountlake Terrace for housing administration purposes. City Council discussions last year regarding affordable housing needs both locally and in Snohomish County resulted in a directive for staff to pursue an interlocal agreement with HASCO for the creation of such housing.
Under Washington law, a county-created housing authority like HASCO must obtain city council approval to operate in a city. However, when approval is granted on a project-by-project basis, this process may delay HASCO’s ability to source properties in a timely manner as they become available on the market.
The proposed agreement allows HASCO to operate in Mountlake Terrace without additional City Council approval. It also identifies aspects of interest to the city, such as limiting the number of HASCO public domain properties that would be removed from tax assessment rolls.
HASCO is required to keep the city informed of any potential projects and also of the development and operating status of the projects located in Mountlake Terrace. It must also consider the city’s overall plan and long-range planning programs when planning and locating any housing development project.
The Town of Mountlake Terrace will not be involved in the operation of housing developed by HASCO or in the determination of rents and the selection of tenants. Both parties will maintain regular communications between staff to provide information on existing housing programs available to city residents. HASCO is solely responsible for funding any housing authority projects authorized by the agreement – unless the city specifically provides financial support or participation by entering into a separate agreement.
The proposed interlocal agreement is similar to a HASCO executed with the City of Edmonds in 2021. The board will vote on whether to approve the interlocal agreement with HASCO under the consent schedule at its regular business meeting on January 18.
The advice too reviewed a professional services agreement for a new hearing examiner. For the past seven years, attorney Jessica Ness has served as the City of Mountlake Terrace Hearing Examiner for civil forfeitures, contested offenses and code compliance issues. However, she informed the city last year that she would be stepping down to take up a position as a municipal judge for the City of Monroe.
And Police Chief Pete Caw and his staff have recommended that council allow, as part of its next regular business meeting, City Manager Scott Hugill to sign an agreement with attorney Rico Tessandore to provide services as a hearing examiner. Tessandore was a member of the Snohomish County Attorney’s Office for five years and has over 20 years of experience as a member of a corporate law firm.
Caw noted that in roles relevant to serving as a court examiner, Tessandore served as a pro tem judge in all of the district courts in Snohomish County, as well as the Superior Court and municipal courts in Monroe, Bothell and Marysville. He is also currently an adjudicator in the superior courts of King, Snohomish and Skagit counties.
Additionally, Caw said continuing to have an independent contracted Hearing Examiner allows the city to handle many civil matters locally, which is more convenient for the community than using the court system of district.
The 2022 Accommodation Tax Advisory Committee funding recommendations were also examined on Thursday evening. The advisory committee is made up of two representatives of businesses subject to the collection of the hotel-motel tax, two people involved in activities authorized to be financed by the tax and an elected official who chairs the committee. The Studio 6 Hotel is the only lodging establishment in Mountlake Terrace that collects hotel/motel taxes.
Under state law, permitted uses of lodging tax funds include tourism marketing, marketing and operation of special events and festivals, operation of owned tourism-related facilities or operated by non-profit organizations, as well as operations and capital expenditures of tourism-related facilities owned by municipalities or public amenity districts.
Since Lodging Tax funds are generated from overnight stays, state auditors recommend that they be used for programs and events that reach audiences beyond Mountlake Terrace to generate overnight stays. in the city. State reporting metrics require an estimate of visitors traveling at least 50 miles to get to the event.
The Town of Mountlake Terrace provides a budget of $25,000 which can be allocated annually. Lodging tax funds are reimbursed to organizations/events by the city. Therefore, if the allocated funds are not spent, such as if an event is cancelled, the money remains in the city’s fund balance.
Two applications were submitted to the Advisory Committee by community organizations seeking funding in 2022. Mountlake Terrace Friends of the Arts requested $10,000 for the Arts of the Terrace Juried Art Show, which is scheduled for September 16-24 2022. The Tower of Terrace The organization is seeking $15,000 for the Seafair-sanctioned annual three-day community festival Tower of Terrace.
The advisory committee recommended that both applications be ultimately approved. The board will vote on whether to authorize the funding recommendations at its next regular business meeting.
During public comments, resident Sally Buckingham said the city should consider installing a traffic light or taking other safety measures at the intersection of West 48th Avenue and Southwest 217th Street. Buckingham reported that she was recently involved in a vehicle collision in which the other driver ran a stop sign. She also noted that she was aware of several other traffic accidents at the intersection and added that the visible sightlines as well as the terrain made it difficult to see and then react safely and quickly to such incidents.
City Council will hold its next regular business meeting on Tuesday, January 18 at 7:00 p.m. It will include a public hearing on the adoption of the Ordinance on the Recreation, Parks and Green Spaces Master Plan (RPOS). See the agenda and information to watch/participate online here.
— By Nathan Blackwell