Thursday, November 18, 2010

Federation October 28, 2010 Minutes


Seattle Community Council Federation Meeting
October 28, 2010

Meeting called to order at 7:05 PM.

Attendance attached

Visiting Candidates introduced themselves with short bios: Karen Donahue and Ed Mc Ed McKenna both running for judicial positions.

Guests: Jean Godden, City Council member and head of Budget Committee and Dr. Ben Noble, Director on Council Central Staff.

Jean Godden indicated she wanted to present an overview of where they are at this point; this is her third year as budget chair. This is a biennial budget for 2011-2012.   The Council will pass the budget for 2011 and endorse the budget for 2012.  The Mayor brought his proposed budget to the Council on September 27; the Council will pass a budget for 2011 probably by Nov. 22.  (It must be no later than Dec. 1, 2010.)   It must be a balanced budget.
The Department heads present their budgets in October and November (now)for round one and the second round in early November.  The final votes of the Council take place on Nov. 11 and 12th.  Proceedings can be viewed on Channel 21.   Green sheets can be found on the website indicating when the council is considering changes to the Mayor’s budget (must be signed by three Council members).  Each green sheet is an addition to or subtraction from budget.  Round 1 will be over by November 2.

In looking at the initiatives, Jean said that the liquor initiatives would have a significant impact on the budget if passed…as well as repealing the tax on soda and candy.

Concern expressed from group about a letter dated August 13 to Mayor and signed by 7 of the 9 council members as it did not seem to be part of the open process. The letter had asked the Mayor to go easy on police, etc.  There are harsh cuts to Parks.   Ben Noble said that the process has changed; all would be done in open meetings now.

Q.  What do you rely on when identifying issues?   
A. (Ben) Questions are sent to departments to clarify staffing issues, etc.  There is a better dialogue than under the previous administration.

Q. Have you ever done a public information request?
A. (Ben) No, we generally get what we want.

Questions were solicited on specific budget items:

Q Look at tax breaks given in past years.
A. The tax breaks don’t diminish revenue as the funds are made up by others.

Q What about higher fees for encroachments? A street use permit is needed which is a one time $15 fee.  This should be an annual fee.
A. Fees being looked at; i.e. fees to be increased 100% on sky bridges.

Q.  City needs to look at what is being overlooked currently.  Concern also expressed about doubling false alarm fees when they are not always false.  It could have been an unsuccessful attempt.

Q. What about the sidewalks on Linden?
A. They are still in the budget at this point and considered high priority.

Q At Green Lake Community Center, rooms are being made into permanent offices for Parks staff which means loss of classrooms and programming..  The Parks Foundation wants to move in.  The Center would lose a well used day care center.
Concern expressed that this Community Center was built with Forward Thrust money in agreement with King County and city.  Concern also expressed about the Laurelhurst Community Center which has 2 small rooms and one large room.  One room would change to an office for Lifelong Recreation; Magnuson would love to have it.
A. (from both Jean Godden and Ben Noble)   Council is still studying this; asked for information from Parks.

Suggestion:  There seems to be a 40% vacancy in Columbia Center.
A. (Jean G.)  The 40% may be too high but they are looking at those empty offices.
A. (Ben) There will be less programming in Community Centers due to lack of money. Moving Parks staff into Community Centers from the Armory helps to keep the building open.  They are looking at staffing ratios.

Q. What about an increase in fees?  Also, concern expressed about a truck that blows leaves around.
A.  There will be less park maintenance.

Concern expressed that Laurelhurst CC not for public access any more.

Q. What about the unions and use of volunteers? Speaker thinking about libraries; couldn’t volunteers pull weeds?
A. (Jean G)  Unions are not happy about volunteers.
A. (Ben) Unions agreed to get rid of the 2% floor for wage increases.  Volunteers are on the discussion list with unions for 2011.

Concern expressed concerning a report that John Barber had put together: can’t use volunteers for everything and can’t let the infrastructure deteriorate. 
Q. (from attendee) Some interns are used for clerical work.  Concern expressed about pensions.
A. (Ben) Pensions are part of the dilemma.  There is a statement of legislative intent to look at different retirement systems for new hires, perhaps 401Ks.  They are asking unions to be smarter in scheduling overtime.  On pensions: Pension fund made enormous gains during the dot com boom and the city decided to reduce contributions.

Q. What about health care plans?
A. These plans need to be renegotiated.

Jean Godden interjected that there have been accomplishments: the 45th Street Bridge was redone; levies were passed to renovate libraries and for 4 new fire stations.  The Parks levy improves infrastructure in some buildings.   The transportation benefit district can increase vehicle license fees and impose taxes.

Suggestion: The fees paid by developers for exceeding height limits went into housing; perhaps some should go into infrastructure.

Concern: Re parking increases and parking in parks.
A.  There will be a study to determine trade-off.

Concern expressed about utility rates: don’t they have to have a rational basis for raising rates?
A. Jean G. said that utility rates can’t be raised for the general fund.  City Budget has three parts: City Light, SPUD, and the general fund.  There are tax increases when rates go up.  (Apparently there was a misleading article in the newspaper that made it look as though rates were being raised to aid the general fund.)

Other concerns expressed: water rate increases; some of the land being considered for permanent tent city has water problems; leaks at Green Lake Bathhouse Theater not being fixed; Leschi concern re: loss of District Coordinator and no maintenance in Leschi Park.
Both guests needed to leave at that point.

Treasurer’s report:  There are funds but a letter needs to be sent to CCs re dues.

Minutes for September meeting were approved with one correction to the Treasurer’s report: change non-profit to tax exempt when signifying matching contributions from employers.

Discussion re: letter to City Council expressing concern about Green Lake and Laurelhurst CCs.  It was felt that letter should be general and should request an equitable allocation in hours.  Letter should also show support for Neighborhood Service Centers and the District Coordinators as well as the Crime Prevention Coordinators, support libraries and parks maintenance.  Suggest lower cost staff do jobs that more highly trained folks now do.  Suggest higher fees for street use permits where walls, rockeries and fences encroach.  Suggest looking at 6 figure salaries; furloughs are more a reduction in service to the public than a cut in salary.

Anna Nissen gave update on the multifamily issue.  She suggests we ask for each individual unit to be certified as affordable.  Sally Clark will not meet with the group.   Nick Licata is willing to help if he sees community support.  She objects to giving a bonus for green; green now sells.  There is a huge deficit of housing at 40% of median and a huge surplus at 80% of median.
Chris concerned about the 30 day window for appeal.

Jorgen Bader made motion which Rick Barrett seconded to go ahead and appeal.
M/S/C to appeal and use funds up to $500.  Unanimous vote.

Anna expressed her concern for the total disregard of loss of affordable housing.  Hearing is on November 23rd.

Meeting adjourned at 9:30 PM.

Respectfully submitted by Diane Snell

Next meeting November 18 (due to Thanksgiving falling on 4th Thursday)

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