30 Nov Commission Meeting Minutes 11-14-22
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING
(Hybrid meeting = Zoom & in person) NOVEMBER 14, 2022
David Preston, President
Steve Johnston, Vice President
Jim Orvis, Secretary
Angela Harris (excused)
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Director of Marina Operations
Tina Drennan, Manager of Finance and Accounting
Jordan Stephens, Port Attorney
Neil Tibbott, Edmonds City Council
John Brock, Woodway Town Council
CALL TO ORDER
President Preston called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
All those in attendance participated in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.
COMMISSIONER ORVIS MOVED THAT THE CONSENT AGENDA BE APPROVED TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
A. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
B. APPROVAL OF NOVEMBER 1, 2022 MEETING MINUTES, AS SUBMITTED
C. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $500,968.16
COMMISSIONER GRANT SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
There were no public comments.
APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NO. 22-04, ESTABLISHING THE AMOUNT OF TAXES TO BE LEVIED
Ms. Drennan advised that the Commission reviewed the 2023 Tax Levy needs on August 29th and October 10th, and again at the public hearing on November 1st. The Tax Levy for 2022 was $609,880, and the proposed 2023 Tax Levy is $615,979 plus new construction and refunds, which is a mil rate of about $0.06. She recommended the Commission approve Resolution 22-04 as presented.
COMMISSIONER ORVIS MOVED THE COMMISSION APPROVE RESOLUTION NO. 22-04, INCREASING THE AMOUNT OF TAX TO BE LEVIED IN 2023 BY $6,098.80, WHICH IS A PERCENTAGE INCREASE OF 1% FROM 2022 PLUS NEW CONSTRUCTION AND REFUNDS. COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Commissioner Grant said it is his understanding, under State Law, ports that don’t increase their tax levy by 1% each year can reserve (bank) the capacity to tax that additional amount at a future date. Mr. McChesney agreed that is correct and advised that the Port’s tax levy remained flat for about 15 years, but they banked the 1% each of those years. Last year, the Commission approved the tax levy to go up to $600,000 in order to build reserves for public access.
APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NO. 22-05, ADOPTING THE 2023 BUDGET.
Ms. Drennan advised that the Port Commission and staff have reviewed and discussed the elements of the 2023 Preliminary Budget at several meetings. They discussed the budget baseline conditions on August 8th, and the property tax levy, economic development and tourism on August 29th. On October 10th, staff presented the draft 2023 Budget to the Commission for the first time, and public comment was accepted. A public hearing was held on November 1st. The Commission last reviewed the budget at its November 1st meeting, and no changes have been made since that time. She recommended the Commission approve Resolution No. 22-05 as presented.
COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON MOVED THE COMMISSION APPROVE RESOLUTION NO. 22-05, ADOPTING THE 2023 BUDGET. COMMISSIONER ORVIS SECONDED THE MOTION.
Commissioner Grant said he is somewhat sensitive to people who have talked to them about the proposed rate increases. He understands that, several years ago, it seemed very prudent that the Port started the Cash Flow Model. However, the model is really a capital reserve account. He suggested they change the name from Cash Flow Model to Capital Reserve Account. He expressed his belief that the name change would help people understand the money isn’t being spent on operations and that the Port has a longevity plan for capital replacement.
Mr. McChesney explained that the Cash Flow Model was intended to answer the question of how much reserve is needed to fund capital replacement. Commissioner Orvis said the Cash Flow Model is more of a Financial Plan because it shows to which reserve account the yearly profits are assigned. Ms. Drennan cautioned against calling it a Capital Reserve Account. While capital replacement is one of the pieces, per industry standards it is called a Cash Flow Projection. Commissioner Preston noted that they did change the name of the reserve to Capital Replacement Reserve Fund.
Commissioner Grant explained that people he has talked with do not have a clear understanding of how the dollars are being allocated. Commissioner Johnston said he hasn’t had that same experience. He finds that it is simple to explain where the money is allocated. It seems that a lot of people ask questions because they don’t want to read the entire budget.
The Commissioners agreed to revisit the issue as part of the 2024 budget process. However, it was emphasized that the Cash Flow Model has served as a good tool for the past several years, and Ms. Drennan is always working to improve it.
THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
CITY OF EDMONDS REPORT
Council Member Tibbott said he is very impressed with the Port’s plans for improving the Portwalk with the glass tiles, trees, planters, etc. It will be a very nice addition to the waterfront.
Council Member Tibbott reported that the City Council has requested that the Waterfront Study come back to them for additional feedback. They had requested additional clarity on some items and for other items to be removed and/or added. He said he would appreciate any feedback from the Port that he could share with the City Council. He also reported that the City is still looking for a consultant for the Comprehensive Plan update.
Council Member Tibbott said the Port may be interested in a public works project that is identified in the City’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)and Capital Replacement Plan (CFP). The plans identify $380,000 in 2026 for ferry storage improvements from Pine Street to Dayton Street. This project should improve access to the Port and the rest of the waterfront and keep ferry traffic moving.
Council Member Tibbott also announced that the CIP/CFP includes funding to implement 10% design for a Green Street Improvement on Dayton Street east of SR-104. It will include widened sidewalks, landscaping, and street trees. He isn’t sure when the project will go to full design and construction, but it is a very important project for an important intersection in the City.
Council Member Tibbott commented that the Port’s Owl technology works well for the hybrid meetings, and he is planning to recommend it to the City for many of its public meetings. Commissioner Preston noted that a number of ports are using the technology.
Commissioner Grant referred to the City Council’s recent decision to extend the BD2 zone, which requires commercial space on the ground floor. He pointed out that, as approved, the extension on Dayton Street would go all the way past 3rd Avenue, which is identified as BD4 zone. He asked if commercial uses would be allowed on both street fronts of that corner lot. Council Member Tibbott responded that, for corner lots, owners can choose which street front they want to use, or they may choose to do both. He said he is looking forward to an updated map from City staff, but he agreed it is puzzling to see the BD2 zone extended on Dayton Street west of 3rd Avenue.
TOWN OF WOODWAY REPORT
Town Council Member Brock announced that the Town Council passed the town’s 2023 budget at their last meeting.
Woodway’s Whisper Newsletter will be mailed out to all Woodway households in late November or early December. The newsletter could include information about the Port’s upcoming holiday events.
Council Member Brock said he is also intrigued by the Owl technology the Port uses for its hybrid meetings. The town is looking to upgrade its equipment, and the biggest problem is audio echo from remote attendees. He is joining the meeting remotely, and he isn’t hearing any echo. He said it appears that the Commissioners had to reconfigure their meeting room instead of sitting up on the dais. Ms. Drennan answered that the change was intentional to make sure all the Commissioners could be heard on Zoom. However, they could probably upgrade to the newer version of Owl technology and add an additional Owl device. Commissioner Orvis said the Commission actually likes the new configuration where they face the audience. It will be even better in their new building.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney said he was invited by Tom Mesaros and Carl Zappora to present to the Edmonds Civic Roundtable on November 28th. This would be a reprise of the presentation that Commissioner Grant gave with Kernen Lien, Edmonds Planning Manager, last month. According to Mr. Mesaros, the tour that was presented by Commissioner Grant, Mr. Baker and Ms. Williams provided such quality information that they were inspired to have the Port come to their next meeting to provide additional information. He is happy to accept the invitation.
Mr. McChesney reported that the N Dock electrical repairs are in progress, but they are still waiting for the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) parts. The Administration/Maintenance Building is moving along handily, with steel erection starting this week. They are happy with the progress, and the project is on time.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Johnston reported that he participated in the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County (EASC) Coffee Chat regarding Sound Transit’s extension of light rail throughout the County. There have been some lively discussions about where the routing and stations should be, and decisions are still being made. Once it is completed in the next six to twelve years, it will be a real boon for the county. He expects a doubling of population in the Lynnwood area over the next 10 years.
Commissioner Orvis said he also attended the EASC Coffee Chat, and he was glad that someone is finally saying that Sound Transit isn’t just for people in Seattle. The goal is to make southwest Everett a major industrial area, including aerospace. They reiterated that Paine Field generates more revenue than SeaTac due to the industrial facilities that are present in the area. The plans appear to finally include a Boeing stop, recognizing it would be foolish to not provide light rail to the industrial area. Transit-oriented development is moving forward in Lynnwood in anticipation of the future light-rail opportunity.
Commissioner Grant asked if Sound Transit addressed the diminished ridership during the pandemic. Perhaps the deviation with Boeing is a recognition that traffic patterns are changing. Commissioner Orvis concurred. He said Sound Transit is trying to develop traffic patterns and make areas more walkable as they build. He noted that Link Light Rail was designed to move people into Seattle, but people aren’t going into Seattle like they used to. No one talked about the free ride even though lack of funding is slowing the project down.
Commissioner Grant reported that he attended the last Woodway Town Council meeting where they passed their 2023 budget, and he has been working hard to review the proposed City of Edmonds Budget. This week, Council Members have 756 pages to read through to prepare for their next meeting discussion. He provided information to Mr. McChesney regarding some potential crosswalk improvements.
Commissioner Grant said he spoke with the Interim Executive Director of the Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) regarding cybersecurity. They are progressing in helping them, and they have been getting some help from the state and federal governments. He has found that people want to help when you talk about 75 ports in the state because they never knew there were so many.
Commissioner Grant referred to the recent election, noting that it appears the Senate will be held by the democrats. This will be important to infrastructure because it means their local senator will remain the chair person. Even if the republicans win the house, it will be so close that it will be very hard to manage. Representative Larsen would be the minority on those committees, but they tend to work very well bipartisan. As congress slowly gets started in early 2023, they will start working on different grants.
Commissioner Preston said he also attended the EASC Coffee Chat regarding Sound Transit 3 where it was emphasized that, as currently proposed, the train would not stop at the Paine Field terminal. However, that may change going forward.
Commissioner Preston said he also attended the Edmonds Downtown Alliance (ED) and Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association (DEMA) meeting. Most are paying the assessment, but some people who are not really benefiting from the group’s work are still refusing to pay. He expressed his belief that they need to reconsider their approach and think of other ways to work with businesses that don’t have walk-in customers.
Commissioner Preston said he attended a Washington Policy Center meeting where Todd Myers, their environmental guru was the presenter. He wrote a book called “Time to Think Small: How Nimble Environmental Technologies Can Solve the Planet’s Biggest Problems.” He plans to read the book and finds it very encouraging on the little things that can make big differences instead of big government making big changes and then being reluctant to alter direction as needed.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 7:41 p.m.
Port Commission Secretary