29 Oct Commission Meeting Minutes 10/12/20
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MINUTES OF MEETING
(Via Zoom) October 12, 2020
Jim Orvis, President
Angela Harris, Vice President
David Preston, Secretary
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Marina Manager
Tina Drennan, Finance Manager
Bradford Cattle, Port Attorney
CALL TO ORDER
President Orvis called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
All those present participated in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.
COMMISSIONER FAIRES MOVED THAT THE CONSENT AGENDA BE APPROVED TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
A. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
B. APPROVAL OF SEPTEMBER 28, 2020 MEETING MINUTES
C. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,289,476.07
COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Susan Paine, Edmonds City Council Member, reported that Mayor Nelson has announced his budget, which includes funding for land acquisition, including the Edmonds Marsh. She noted that UNOCAL owns a significant portion of the marsh. She said the intent is to ensure there is more open park space for the community. The budget will be the topic of discussion at upcoming City Council Meetings.
Commissioner Faires asked if there is any part of the proposed budget that would be controversial with regard to the Port’s mission. Council Member Paine answered that is not clear at this time. The budget will include funding for the Comprehensive Plan update, which will likely involve areas that might be included as open public space. Commissioner Faires asked if any of the proposals for Comprehensive Plan changes would impact the ability to develop residential units at Harbor Square. Council Member Paine said the current discussion will focus on funding the Comprehensive Plan update, and the intent is to hire a consultant to assist. Her understanding is that the update will focus on race and social equity and the environment. She said the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan will also be updated in the near future.
Dean Nichols, Woodway, asked what is included in the proposed 2021 budget for public amenities. Commissioner Orvis answered that, as proposed, $170,000 would be allocated to public amenities in the 2021 Budget. Commissioner Faires recalled that implementation of the Public Access Plan was discussed at the last Commission meeting. Specific projects will start in 2020 and 2021, including additional study and planning for the seawall and boardwalk projects that are anticipated in the future. Commissioner Orvis noted that the seawall and boardwalk projects will need to be coordinated.
Mr. Nichols asked if the Port plans to move the trash and recycling facilities away from the gates. Commissioner Johnston answered that this project would be done as part of Phase I and Phase II implementation. Mr. Nichols noted that the trash receptacle near T Dock is in significant disrepair. It needs to be replaced and it should be moved away from the boardwalk because it smells in the summer months. Commissioner Faires summarized that there are three trash and recycling areas north of the administrative building. As planned, the first two are scheduled for renovation and relocation in 2021, and the third would follow in a subsequent year. The intent is that all three facilities would have the same design.
Darrol Haug, Edmonds, referred to a letter he submitted prior to the meeting. He said it is important for the Port to begin to look at ways to help economic activity beyond its normal scope of business (west of the railroad tracks). There is more to be done, and the Port has the opportunity to do that. Now that the debts are paid off and there is a good revenue stream, the Port should consider how they can help the City from an economic development standpoint. One thing that could be most beneficial is the notion of where residential zoning is allowed. The downtown, Harbor Square and waterfront areas need residential zoning. The data the Port created during its Harbor Square study could be very helpful for the various groups who are looking at these issues. Another project the Port could pursue is related to parking. Downtown parking is not as much of a problem as it is made out to be by the public. He worked with two Council Members to consider parking in greater detail, but more study work is needed. The City Council needed to step up and fund the parking study, but that did not occur. The Port could investigate this opportunity, perhaps working with the Economic Development Commission, to figure out how the Port could help the City deal with parking issues.
Mr. Haug said he is always surprised at how the Port characterizes property tax revenue. While he supports the use of tax revenue to subsidize the public launch ($50,000) and pay for Commission costs ($150,000), he is concerned about how the remaining $200,000 is allocated now that the Harbor Square debt has been paid off. It appears that the money has been reallocated for “public access.” He said he would support a tax increase that would allow the Port to participate in economic development opportunities beyond the railroad tracks.
Mr. Haug’s letter read as follows:
My hope is the Port would get back to one of your primary missions, economic development within the Port District. While you have done a good job in the past it is now time to think “outside the docks” and your “waterfront world” and see how you can be a major driver of economic growth in the rest of the District. You formed years ago as a defense move to prevent others from starting a marina in Edmonds. You did major development in the waterfront area but seldom if at all beyond a block or two from the tracks. You have done a masterful job of Harbor Square, first to develop it, then to sell it, and then to buy it back and sort out all its issues.
Yes, you had a great plan for redevelopment of HS but others elected officials did not buy into a great plan. You need to get off defense and go on the offence for your taxpayers. Now that it is paid for it may be time to move on.
As a taxpayer in the district I am always amazed how you spend my tax dollars. We keep paying for the Launch, $50k and we keep paying for Commissioners, $150k and the other $200k keeps getting a creative title. In the past it was “Properties” now it is $10k of “training” and $190k of “Public Access”?
With your retreat cancelled and my request to meet with your Director and President on hold because of CV19 the ideas I want to present have been on hold. Here are the 3 major ideas I wanted to advance that are needs within the Port District. There are more details I can offer but time does not allow for this public comment session.
1. We need more affordable housing in the district. You don’t build stuff but you have the best data available from your work on HS. What is needed to provide more housing is a change in the strategy for Edmonds in the DT section and the waterfront and near waterfront areas. We need to help the public understand that rezoning these areas for mixed use will not result in building over the current zoning limits. Two commission are going to be looking at this issue and you can help.
2. Parking in DT. The EDC and then a Mayors team launched some really great starting points that added to DT parking stall inventory. Two Council members who are now gone and I worked with city staff and first did a survey and were prepared to do a more complete parking study that I can assure you would have produced meaningful results. We know some of the answers but needed to get the data to support it. Council blocked that study with some “mystery numbers” but you could help support that study and make it happen. Think of the headline. “Port HELPS City Solve Parking Issues!”
3. Shuttle service. No not the dock to DT. No not that rusty trolley in Florida that is not ADA compliant. There is more cost effective and efficient, and “save the planet” ways to get folks from A to B. One of the answers to DT parking is Employee parking. We currently have 700 who pay for permits and MANY more who just park in the 3 hr zones. We could open up parking DT by using the shuttle service at key times for employees and other time for visitors to DT. The Port could help with advancing and funding some of the cost for this form of “economic development” also fits with your new found term for my taxes, “Public Access”.
I have a mask and would still like to meet with you to discuss in detail some of the above. Oh I forgot, how do you fund all this.
1. Raise my taxes to the banked amount.
2. Sell HS to the highest bidder and use that as your bank role. That asset belongs to the district taxpayers and even if HS is sold at a discount the new stuff you could do will have your taxpayer thanking you for doing so!
Eddy Norton, Edmonds, voiced support for relocating and replacing the trash/recycling facilities, particularly the one near T Dock, which gets quite smelly. He said he enjoys walking through the Port, and he often finds jellyfish. However, their numbers seem to be decreasing of late. He said he was saddened to learn of the lightning strike on the ferry, as well. He questioned how local endeavors related not only to smelly garbage, but also to environmental impact, are affecting the number of jellyfish and the prevalence of lightning strikes. He asked the Commission to commune with nature to figure out a balance that could be struck between humans and the greater surrounding area. There are many opinions regarding global warming, and he likes to call it heat or temperature regulation of the earth. In addition to removing the smelly garbage areas away from the more pristine walking paths, they could also remove some of the negative energies, as well.
Commissioner Orvis commented that the Port has been a recognized leader in reducing the amount of pollution that goes into Puget Sound from Port properties. The environment is in the forefront of staff’s planning.
APPROVAL OF UPDATED ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Mr. McChesney reviewed that the Administrative Authority of the Executive Director, which was most recently approved in 2012, limits the Executive Director to approving public works, engineering, and professional service contracts to $10,000. It also requires that contracts between $5,000 and $10,000 be placed on the next meeting’s consent agenda. Change orders are limited to $30,000 or 10% of the contract price, whichever is less. He explained that, during major construction projects, like the Harbor Square Building 3 renovation, the restrictions may leave the Executive Director in the awkward position of either putting the project on hold until the Commission reviews and approves the change order or approving the change order and notifying the Commission at the next meeting, which leaves the Executive Director in the vulnerable position of being out of compliance with the Administrative Authority.
Mr. McChesney recalled that the Commission previously expressed an interest in increasing the Executive Director’s purchasing limit, and the issue was remanded to the Finance Committee for a recommendation. At their August 20th meeting, the Finance Committee recommended the Executive Director’s purchasing authority be increased to $50,000 and the change order limit to $50,000 or 10% of the original contract price, whichever is greater. He referred to the revised Administrative Authority of the Executive Director and recommended the Commission approve the changes as proposed.
Commissioner Preston said he wasn’t clear about when the Commission would be notified of decisions that are made. Ms. Drennan answered that, currently, the Administrative Authority requires the Executive Director to notify the Commission of any action that is taken. As proposed, the Executive Director would notify the Commission as appropriate. She commented that requiring the Executive Director to notify the Commission of every action taken would be too onerous. Commissioner Preston voiced concern that the proposed change is significant yet there would be no notification requirement. He felt it would be important for the Commissioners to be notified when significant actions are taken.
Commissioner Faires said the Finance Committee discussed that the Port has an experienced staff and Executive Director who has demonstrated he keeps the Commission well informed. They also noted that the recommended change is applicable to the current Executive Director and staff and could be changed at any point in the future, if necessary.
Mr. McChesney agreed with Commissioner Preston in principle. He commented that, from his point of view, he would remain committed to informing the Commission of any major purchases or change orders that occur.
Commissioner Johnston said he supports the modification given the Port’s current circumstances and the level of work effort ahead.
COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION APPROVE THE ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AS ATTACHED. COMMISSIONER FAIRES SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
APPROVAL OF UPDATED POLICY NO 3.50.25 – ACQUISITION OF MATERIALS, SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT
Mr. McChesney explained that, with the increase of projects completed inhouse, the Facilities Maintenance Manager has been experiencing difficulties in obtaining the materials needed while complying with the Port’s purchasing policies. The environment has changed, and companies have consolidated and are focusing on specific industries. Company salespeople may give the Port a quote once or twice, but if the Port doesn’t follow up with a purchase, the salespeople won’t continue to provide quotes. Home improvement stores are only carrying inventory with quick turnover, so many of the materials the Port needs aren’t available there. The price of lumber has more than doubled, and materials required for marina construction are 2-3 times higher. The Facilities Maintenance Manager is working directly with suppliers to reduce costs. For example, Marine Lumber sells to many of the retailers in the area, and he is working with them to purchase large amounts of lumber for the breakwater and boardwalk boards. Obtaining three quotes to purchase $10,000 of lumber is no longer practical, and the Facilities Maintenance Manager has requested that the Commission review the purchasing policy and increase the limits to enable him to effectively and efficiently obtain materials.
Mr. McChesney referred to updated Policy 3.50.25 – Acquisition of Materials, Supplies and Equipment, which was attached to the Staff Report and recommended the Commission approve it as presented.
COMMISSIONER FAIRES MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION APPROVE UPDATED POLICY 3.50.25 – ACQUISITION OF MATERIALS, SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT AS PRESENTED.
Commissioner Orvis pointed out that the proposed update would basically address the Port’s outdated policy. While the number is significant, it is important to note that it hasn’t been updated for eight years. If regular updates had been made on a regular basis, the increase wouldn’t have been so drastic. Commissioner Faires said he also supports the proposed update as it would apply to the current experienced staff. The Commission has a high level of trust and communication with staff. If that changes in the future, the policy could be changed as appropriate.
THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
2021 PRELIMINARY BUDGET
Ms. Drennan reported that the Finance Committee met on September 30th to review the draft 2021 Budget, and the Commission has already spoken about the budget baseline conditions, property tax levy and economic development and tourism budget. The draft 2021 Budget includes the Marina Budget, Rental Property Budget, Overhead Budget, Capital Budget and Protected Cash Flow Schedule. It also includes all of the rates and recommended rate adjustments. The changes made since the Finance Committee meeting have been incorporated (in red).
Ms. Drennan advised that this is the first time the draft 2021 Budget has been presented to the Commission and public, and the documents have been available on the Port’s website since Friday. A public hearing is scheduled for October 26th, and the updated budget packets will be available on the Port’s website no later that the Friday prior to that meeting. The final budget is scheduled for approval on November 9th and must be submitted to Snohomish County by November 30th.
Commissioner Orvis observed that, oftentimes, organizations see the draft budget for the first time after it has been totally prepared by staff, and then they comment, make changes and give direction. In the Port’s case, budget decisions have been made incrementally over a period of time, starting as early as April. Staff incorporates the Commission’s direction into the draft proposal. Because the draft budget is put together following what has been authorized by the Commission throughout the year, the does not come as a surprise to the Commissioners.
Ms. Drennan reviewed the draft 2021 Budget, highlighting the following:
Introductory Sections (Pages 3 through 8)
• The introductory sections explain the Port of Edmonds and outlines the budget process and its timeline.
• The graphs on Page 5 illustrate the Total Revenues and Expenses for the 2021 Operating Budget. As expected, approximately 66% of the revenue comes from the Marina and about 27% from Rental Properties. Property Taxes contribute 4%, and 3% comes from Other Sources. Approximately 61% of the Total Operating Expenses are attributed to the Marina, 22% to Overhead (items that cannot be attributed to one specific cost center), and 17% to Rental Properties.
• Pages 6 and 7 describe the various elements of the budget and explain how to use each one, and Page 8 provides the budget summary for 2021. It identifies Total Operating Revenues of about $9.4 million and Total Operating Expenses of about $7.6 million. The Net Income is about $2.3 million.
Marina Operating Budget and Notes (Pages 9 through 16)
• Permanent Moorage (Note M8) is presented as a rate increase of Consumer Price Index (CPI) + 1%, with a 4% vacancy. The Port has used CPI for quite some time, and it was recommended by the Commission for application this year. The Port uses the CPI Index for All Items Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue for All Urban Consumers. CPI is 0.9%, and a table was attached to the packet. The Permanent Moorage Revenue increase is $78,000 over 2020 Projected Revenue, which is an average increase of $9.80 per slip per month.
• Dry Storage Revenue (Note M10) is presented as a rate increase of CPI + 1%, with a 12% vacancy. This equates to a $46,000 increase over 2020 Projected Revenue and an average increase of $6.67 per slip per month. Fishing seasons greatly effect Dry Storage occupancy.
• Employee Benefits (Note M25) include both medical premiums and retirement premiums. The Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) contributions increased from 12.86% to 12.97%, and Medical insurance premiums increased by approximately 1.6%. Some medical premium changes also occur during the year due to changes in staff turnover and/or dependent coverage.
• Insurance (Note M27) runs from September to August. The Port experienced a 16% increase effective September 2020. The budget estimates from September 2020 through August 2021 numbers, plus 15% for the last 4 months of 2021. Employee benefits and insurance will be in all of the categories (Marina, Rental Properties, and Overhead) and this comment applies to all.
Commissioner Faires advised that the Finance Committee considered alternatives and concluded that the current situation is as good as they can expect over the next year.
• The Marketing Budget (Note M29), was adjusted to eliminate the Seattle Boat Show. Due to the pandemic, it is not certain the event will occur, and even it does, the Port is not comfortable sending employees to the event.
• Payroll Taxes (Note M32) have increased due to two major claims that caused an increase in Labor and Industries (L&I) rates. They also anticipate an increase in unemployment rates due to the pandemic. Although the Port doesn’t have any unusual claims, the State of Washington overall has.
• In the Repair and Maintenance Budget (Note M35), the Fuel Dock Expenses were adjusted to add annual pump calibration. The Moorage Expenses included some electric tap feeder upgrades to the power pedestals on the dock.
• Salaries and Wages (Note M36) includes a CPI increase of 0.9% and merit increase per policy. Salaries and Wages have been allocated as follows: Marina (62%), Rental Properties (8%), Overhead (29%) and Capital Projects (1%).
• Supplies (Note M37) include breakwater structure repairs (boards and steel), which will be done inhouse by maintenance staff.
• The Property Tax Carry (Note M42) allocates $50,000 to the public launch to cover launcher expenses that exceed revenues. The Commission has decided this is a public amenity and should, therefore, be supported by property taxes.
• Overhead (Note M43) is allocated based on the percentage of marina revenues less fuel costs to total revenues less fuel costs. About 66% of overhead is allocated to the Marina.
Rental Properties (Pages 17 through 21)
• 2020 was the first year of implementing Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement 87 regarding leases. In the past, the Port recorded all lease revenue as current period revenue. Statement 87 requires the Port to treat leases as if they are a long-term financing agreement. They will show in the Financial Statement and 2021 Operating Budget in both “Rent” and “Interest” categories.
• The top of Page 18 shows the Rental Property Rent, as requested by the Commission to show how much rent is expected in 2021. It shows Harbor Square Rent/Lease Income in one category and Interest Income in another category. When combined, the two total the $2,001,000 shown on Page 18. Page 18 also shows a reconciliation of how things are translated into the “West Side” category. For example, under the old 2019 system, there was $1,905,000 at Harbor Square, and they are anticipating $1,906,000 in 2020. For the west side of the tracks, there was $467,468 in 2019 and they are anticipating $471,000 in 2020.
The Port leases land directly to the Harbor Square Athletic Club, but the lease was held separately because it was not subject to the loan. Once the Harbor Square loan was paid off in 2019, it was moved over so the property manager now maintains all of the Harbor Square leases. There is now only one category for Harbor Square Revenue.
• The Overhead Allocation (Note P32) for Harbor Square is 34%. Previously, there was a property tax allocation that was used to pay off the Harbor Square loan. The loan was paid off at the end of 2019, so the property tax allocation is no longer necessary. These funds will be applied to Public Access Plan Projects, instead.
Commissioner Orvis clarified that Public Access Plan is the term used for the improvements to the boardwalk and the public areas along the boardwalk. Commissioner Faires added that it also includes improvements at the public plaza.
Overhead Budget (Pages 22 through 27)
• The Repair and Maintenance Budget (Note O27) includes painting the Administration Building when the stairs and other maintenance activities are completed. In addition, the Port has brought in porta-potties during the pandemic, and they are cleaned regularly each week. There is not enough room to socially distance at the Marina Operations and Administration Building restroom facilities.
Combined Operating Budget (Pages 28 through 31).
• The total revenue for both Marina Operations and Rental Properties is about $2.3 million.
• Pages 30 and 31 shows the 2016 to 2019 actual, 2020 projected, and 2021 budget. The 2020 projected budget is approximately $2.6 million and approximately $2.3 million in 2021. This does not include Capital Budget items.
Revenue and Expense Trends (Page 32)
• The graph shows that revenue and expense trends mirror each other. When there is more activity, there are also more expenses.
Commissioner Faires noted that the Port’s facilities are aging and maintenance costs, while under control and very well managed, will continue to rise.
Capital Budget (Page 33)
• The items in red were adjusted and moved to a different year, and the items in green are projects identified in the Public Access Plan.
• The proposed budget identifies $20,000 for trash/recycling projects in 2020, $50,000 in 2021, $50,000 in 2022 and $30,000 in 2023. Commissioner Faires commented that moving the facilities in the north marina is a good thing, but he doesn’t recall any part of that phase of the program that would change the odor associated with it. It will be basically transferred from the dock to the parking lot. Ms. Drennan concurred and said staff cleans the receptacles regularly as part of the maintenance program, but it isn’t done every day.
• $15,000 is allocated in 2021 for the ground scrubber machine to keep the workyard clean so the Port can maintain its permit.
• In 2020, $30,000 has been earmarked for the plaza trellis.
• In 2021, $100,000 has been allocated to replace the electrical feeders (main service feeders) between the esplanade and docks. The HVAC replacement program will also continue in 2021 and 2022. Fifteen units at Harbor Square still need to be replaced, and the plan is to do half in 2021 and the other half in 2022.
• The Commission Room remodel was pushed out several times, and $75,000 was allocated for the project in 2021. In addition, $25,000 was allocated in 2021 for Accounts Payable Automation Software and the associated data base program. The CAT Forklift is also scheduled for replacement in 2021 at a cost of $60,000.
• In 2021, the Port will begin design, engineering and permitting for the north seawall and boardwalk rebuild. They anticipate a four to five-year process, with actual construction starting in 2026. Also in 2021, funds are budgeted for materials and supplies for the planter boxes ($102,000) and interpretive signage ($25,000). An additional $25,000 is identified in 2022 to complete the interpretive signage project.
• The 2021 Capital Budget also includes $11,000 for server replacement, $50,000 for a storage shed by the Pressure Wash Building, $9,000 for a trailer for maintenance, $30,000 for vehicle replacement, $125,000 for Dry Storage concrete pad replacement, and $15,000 for a Dry Storage electronic gate.
• Design and permitting for the plaza remodel ($50,000) will start in 2021. It is anticipated that construction will start in 2022.
Commissioner Preston raised the idea of purchasing skimmers that float in the water to pick up trash. A lot of trash accumulates during the summer in areas where there is high foot traffic. A skimmer would be one way to clean the marina up and make it look and smell better. He asked staff to research this option. Ms. Drennan advised that a skimmer has been tested in the marina, and staff wasn’t that impressed. Commissioner Preston noted that the Port of Everett uses this equipment, and he suggested that the Port staff contact them for more information.
Public Access Plan (Page 34)
• This section details the Public Access Plan budget and funding information in one place. The budget allocates $327,000 for projects in 2021.
Cash Flow Model (Page 35)
• The Commission will need to have some discussions about how to fund the boardwalk and north seawall projects in the future.
Consumer Price Index Table (Page 36)
• This table was included for information purposes.
Moorage and Dry Storage (Pages 37 through 40)
• The charts in this section outline the proposed rate increases and the differences per month.
• The Moorage Rate Survey compares the Port’s rates to those of other similar facilities. The Port’s rates are typically higher than Cap Sante, Everett and La Conner, but even with or lower than Elliott Bay and Shilshole.
Marina Operations Fees (Pages 41 through 48)
• Rate increases are proposed for the Travelift and Boatyard, Guest Moorage, Public Launch and parking. The rates help cover costs associated with restroom facilities and electrical improvements.
• Increases are also proposed for the forklift and haul rates, workboat rates, dewatering pump out rates, and labor fees. In addition, the liveaboard fee will be raised by a small amount, and the trailer storage fee will be increased by CPI + 1%. Recreational vehicle parking fees will also be increased.
• A short-term moorage category was added, which will be 125% of the regular rate, plus all other fees. These spaces will be for people who want a slip but don’t want to sign up for a moorage agreement. The idea is to generate additional revenue by filling up the vacant slips.
• The passenger fee for commercial vessels will increase by CPI +1%, but the dinghy storage fee will decrease as it is ahead of market rate. The sublease fee was increased, too.
• Changes have been made to parking permits, as well. Previously, the first permit was free and tenants had to pay for the second permit. A higher fee was charged for the third and fourth permits. For 2021, the Port will offer two permits at no fee. To cover the cost, $1 was added to the monthly moorage rate. The Port experienced situations where tenants have given their parking passes to friends and family as commuter parking, and this was nipped in the bud by emphasizing on the permits and programs that the parking passes are to be used for marina activities only.
• The fuel mark up was increased from $0.83 to $0.86. The increase equates to CPI plus the increase in calibration costs, and the monthly fee for the firewall protection.
• The 2020 Travelift and Workyard Rate Survey is on Page 46 and the Boatyard Rate Comparisons are on Pages 47 and 48. She noted that the Port is at the lower end compared to other marinas.
Staffing (Page 49)
• This chart shows the pay-scale increases for each category based on a 0.9% increase (CPI + 1%).
Economic Development and Tourism Expense (Page 50)
• Since the last time the Commission discussed this item, the Seattle Boat Show was removed as an expense.
Property Taxes (Pages 51 through 56)
• The Commission reviewed this information at previous meetings, and there have been no changes since the last discussion.
Susan Paine, Edmonds City Council Member, asked what the Port Commission is planning for their meetings in 2021. Mr. McChesney said the Commission is planning to hold virtual meetings until such time as Governor Inslee moves Snohomish County into Phase III. While they would like to meet in person, it is not appropriate at this time. Council Member Paine responded that the City Council will likely do the same, but no decision has been made yet. Commissioner Faires said he would prefer virtual meetings until a vaccine is available. Commissioner Orvis noted that the Port Commission Meeting Room lacks the space for those in attendance to socially distance.
Commissioner Preston noted there are two different amounts for Facebook ads and marketing. He requested feedback from Ms. Williams as to whether the allocations were adequate or if more is needed. Mr. McChesney responded that the numbers reflect what was submitted by Ms. Williams.
Ms. Drennan summarized that a public hearing on the draft 2021 Operating and Capital Budgets is scheduled for October 26th. That will be the only public hearing prior to the Commission taking final action on November 9th. She reminded the Commission of their earlier discussion that one public hearing meets the legal requirements and allows sufficient time for the budget to be adjusted as directed by the Commission based on public comments before final approval.
CONTINUATION OF RESOLUTION NO. 20-03 DECLARING LOCAL EMERGENCY AND DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY
Mr. McChesney reported that there has been no action taken by the Executive Director under the special emergency authority to date.
LIFE JACKET LOANER PROGRAM UPDATE
Mr. Baker reviewed that, at the Commission’s request, he conducted an audit of the current Life Jacket Loaner Program that is currently located in the Guest Moorage area. He found that many of the jackets were unwearable and in an inferior condition and needed to be replaced. He contacted the Washington State Boating Program, which is part of Washington State Parks and Recreation, and they provided the Port with new jackets to replace the existing inventory. Staff will inventory the jackets that were received and come up with a plan for storing and checking them out moving forward. They will be kept inside the office instead of stored outside where they are exposed to the weather. Since the amenity will be less visible, staff will also consider ways to promote the program to the public via Facebook, the newsletter and perhaps signage at the top of Guest Moorage.
Commissioner Faires asked who is legally responsible for the maintenance of the program. Mr. Baker said that there is a plaque on the facility, noting that it was provided as an Eagle Scout Project, but there is no indication that the Boys Scouts of America would offer continued support. There has been no maintenance or update since it was created, but the Port intends to do so moving into the future. Commissioner Faires agreed that it would behoove the Port to keep the program updated and safe.
Commissioner Preston asked how the public could access the life jackets after hours. Mr. Baker said that, in the past when he has administered similar programs, they have operated on a check-out basis. This allows staff to provide oversight to ensure that the jackets are properly sized, etc. Offering the jackets after hours would require that they be stored outside, and they will deteriorate faster. Commissioner Preston agreed that having staff check out the life jackets would be better from a liability standpoint. Mr. Baker commented that the program is not highly used in its current state. The slight changes and improvements are not likely to impact a large number of people.
Port Attorney Cattle suggested there are things the Port can do to address the liability issue. It is a good program, but certain aspects of it need to be addressed along the lines of the discussion the Commission has had. He agreed to discuss this issue with staff.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney reported that the new Travelift ramp was installed last week. The project went forward without a hitch, and staff is getting ready to install the new Dry Storage Office Trailer. Staff is also moving forward with winter maintenance, including pressure washing, picking up leaves and cleaning gutters.
Mr. McChesney requested that the Public Access Committee meet again soon to further refine the process going forward. Given the extended time it will take to do the design and permitting, he felt that the project needs to get started as soon as possible.
Mr. McChesney referred to Ms. Drennan’s earlier comment during the budget discussion about the increase to the L&I insurance rates as a result of a few claims. He reported that L&I did an unannounced audit at the Port a few weeks ago. A complete audit of the Port’s facilities was done and no defects that needed correction were found. The only thing they found to mention was a technical omission that the Port didn’t properly document when scissor lift operators were trained. As it pertains to the claims that have affected the Port’s L&I insurance rates, it is worth pointing out that there have been exactly two lost-time injuries over the last five years. The staff and Safety Committee have done an excellent job, and safety remains the number one priority at the Port.
Commissioner Orvis commented that the audit is significant given that Port staff does some complicated work. Commissioner Faires added that more work is being done inhouse, and Port staff is asked to do work that they haven’t had a lot of experience with. They are doing a good job. Mr. McChesney said he is very proud of staff and the work they do.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Harris reported that she has participated in some Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) meetings, including the Economic Committee meeting on October 7th. She announced that she would participate in the Small Port’s Conference at the end of October, as well.
Commissioner Johnston said he has attended a number of WPPA Roundtables. The roundtable on September 29th covered pandemic paradigm shifts and methods and strategies for dealing with COVID-19 at state agency levels. They are doing everything the Port of Edmonds is doing. They are establishing and evaluating remote working methods and effectiveness, doing a lot of internal Zoom meetings for safe social distancing, providing and enhancing remote and online client service interfaces, maintaining organizational culture and sustainability, and safe reopening of offices at the proper time. Lessons learned from the two agencies that participated (Office of Financial Management and Washington State Department of Transportation) are that people are highly adaptable and can provide suggestions to make things work better and many remote working techniques and technologies are likely to be retained in some form post pandemic.
Commissioner Johnston said he participated in the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County’s (EASCs) Coffee with Rick Larsen, the 2nd U.S. Congressional District Representative. Issues that were discussed at the meeting included the Payroll Protection Program and CARES Act, which are both bogged down in Congress. They talked about the impact of Boeing’s recent decision to move the 787 line to South Carolina. It doesn’t mean that Boeing is dead in Washington, as the 747 will continue in Everett for a couple of years and the 737 Max and Tanker program will continue in Renton. The discussion centered on how to fill the holes, and there was expressed interest for a variety of aerospace businesses to take up that slack.
Commissioner Johnston reported that he participated in the WPPA Economic Committee meeting on October 7th. The discussion items included:
• What ports are doing to operate smoothly and safely, considerations about reopening, communicating the culture and maintaining morale. A number of different ports weighed in and provided good insight. For the most part, the ports in the state are doing fine.
• The Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA) Fund is strong enough that it could be swept again within the next biennium. The WPPA will be in the forefront of efforts to protect this funding.
• The benefits of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) by ports, which nearly every other taxing authority can use. It is a mechanism where you borrow against the future value of properties and assets. The trouble is that it creates a ripple affect through other agencies, and that is the main reason why the state doesn’t yet have an effective program. Idaho got around this by setting up a TIF program that eliminated schools as one of the impacted parties. A consortium has been formed to push the TIF concept as an additional funding mechanism for ports. The consortium consists of representatives from the WPPA, cities, counties, Washington Economic Development Agency (WEDA), commercial real estate interests and others.
• The Recreation and Conservation Office’s (RCO) Grant Program is another funding source for Ports, and more information on this opportunity will be provided at the next WPPA roundtable. This opportunity might impact how the Port funds its public access improvements.
Commissioner Johnston announced that he would participate in the WPPA’s virtual Small Ports Conference. Commissioner Faires said he would attend the conference, as well.
Commissioner Faires reported that the Edmonds Economic Development Commission (EDC) held a virtual retreat where the discussion focused on their long-range priorities and strategies. He recalled that he previously advised the Commission that he would invite Tom Mesaros, the facilitator of the retreat, to provide a summary report to the Commission. However, he was unable to make this connection. He said the EDC will meet again to review the retreat discussion and establish its priorities and strategies going forward.
Commissioner Preston reminded the Commission of the event that happened recently outside the Port when a 22-foot boat swamped, and people on the boat had to be plucked out of the water. It is important that people not only have life jackets, but that they wear them.
Commissioner Preston shared an article that was published in THE EDMONDS ENTERPRISE in 2009 titled, “A New Face at the Port of Edmonds.” It featured both Mr. McChesney and Commissioner Orvis.
Commissioner Preston presented information he received a few years ago from the Port of Skagit regarding what they do inhouse for media and advertising.
Commissioner Preston said he also participated in the WPPA Roundtables, as well as the Economic Committee meeting.
Commissioner Preston reported that he and Mr. Baker participated in the virtual Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA) meeting. They were able to bring people in from across the country and Canada to speak at the event. Their interest was piqued by a thermal imaging device that senses heat on electrical components. Mr. Baker added that it is an inexpensive, hand-held device that can help the Port identify electrical problems before they turn into big problems.
Commissioner Preston said he recently came across information about less toxic alternative cleaning methods. Perhaps the Port could post and make the information available to the public. He expressed his belief that things municipalities are doing to clean stormwater are a waste of time. If they can pour thousands of pounds of fertilizer and zinc on roofs with no restrictions, it doesn’t really matter what they are doing in other areas. Municipalities could do a lot more to encourage citizens to use environmental-friendly approaches.
Commissioner Orvis said he would also attend the virtual WPPA Small Ports Conference. He reported that the WPPA Legislative Committee cancelled its October meeting, but there isn’t a lot going on right now. The next meeting will be in November. He expressed his belief that the legislature would be preoccupied with money, and they will have to make some tough decisions. No decision was made about whether or not to call another session, which is an expensive procedure and difficult to do under the current pandemic restrictions.
Commissioner Orvis shared an article he recently read regarding stormwater in which he learned that the biggest environmental issue is urban stormwater. It hasn’t been addressed yet because it will be horribly expensive. Edmonds has done a lot of work putting in drains and holding areas, and there are more stringent stormwater requirements for new construction. However, the runoff that spills into Puget Sound is still dirty. Cities and counties will have to address this issue in the near future.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.
David Preston, Port Commission Secretary