30 Nov Commission Meeting Minutes 11-8-21
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING
(Via Zoom) November 8, 2021
Angela Harris, President
David Preston, Vice President
Steve Johnston, Secretary
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Marina Manager
Tina Drennan, Finance Manager
Vivian Olson, Edmonds City Council
Brad Cattle, Port Attorney
CALL TO ORDER
President Harris called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
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 OCTOBER 25, 2021 MEETING MINUTES, AS SUBMITTED
C. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $262,860.18
D. HARBOR SQUARE JANITORIAL CONTRACT NUMBER 2021-397
E. APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NUMBER 21-07, AUTHORIZING THE SALE OF ABANDONED BOAT
COMMISSIONER ORVIS SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
There were no public comments.
APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NUMBER 21-04, ESTABLISHING THE AMOUNT OF TAX TO BE LEVIED
Ms. Drennan reviewed that the Commission discussed the 2022 Tax Levy needs at three previous meetings (August 30th, October 11th and October 25th). The Tax Levy for 2021 was $400,000, and the proposed Tax Levy for 2022 is $606,876 plus new construction and refunds, which is a mil rate of $0.08. She recalled that, in past years when the Port was not taking the full allowable tax levy amount, the Commission passed a second resolution that banked the excess levy capacity, allowing the tax levy capacity to grow by that amount year over year. As the current proposal is to levy the maximum levy capacity, there is no excess capacity to bank this year. She reminded them that Port staff recommended, and the Finance Committee concurred, that the additional tax revenue would help to fund the North Portwalk and Seawall Project. She recommended the Commission approve Resolution Number 21-04 as presented.
COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON MOVED THE COMMISSION APPROVE RESOLUTION NUMBER 21-04, ESTABLISHING THE AMOUNT OF TAX TO BE LEVIED IN 2022 IN THE AMOUNT OF $606,876 PLUS NEW CONSTRUCTION AND REFUNDS. COMMISSIONER FAIRES SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Commissioner Faires said that he supports the resolution, as the additional tax revenue would be used to fund the community’s portion of the North Portwalk Project. However, he is hoping that the tax amount will be reduced to cover only the Commissioner costs after the community’s portion of the project has been satisfied.
APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NUMBER 21-05, ADOPTING THE 2022 BUDGET
Ms. Drennan advised that the Commission reviewed the 2022 Preliminary Budget on August 30th, October 11th and October 25th. A public hearing was held on October 25th, and there have been no changes to the budget since that time. She recommended the Commission approve Resolution 21-05 as presented.
COMMISSIONER FAIRES MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION APPROVE RESOLUTION 21-05, ADOPTING THE 2022 BUDGET. COMMISSIONER PRESTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Commissioner Orvis commented that, although it appears the Commission has taken quick action on the 2022 budget and tax levy, the actions taken at this meeting have simply formalized the decisions that have been made in public meetings over the last several weeks. A public hearing was held at the October 25th meeting to ensure there was adequate time to take action on any changes that may have resulted from the comments provided. Commissioner Faires added that the budget process starts in June and continues throughout the summer and fall.
APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NUMBER 21-06, ADDRESSING THE APPARENT LEGISLATIVE DRAFTING MISTAKE IN THE 2020 AMENDMENT TO REVISED CODE OF WASHINGTON (RCW) 53.12.260 REGARDING COMMISSIONER COMPENSATION
Mr. McChesney explained that the legislature amended RCW 53.12.260 in 2007. RCW 53.12.260 establishes commissioner compensation, and the amendment increased the per diem from $70 to $90 and indexed all compensation numbers with an adjustment every five years with a base of July 1, 2008. An August 2021 Knowing the Waters article by Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) Counsel Frank Chmelik noted that RCW 53.12.260 was amended in 2020 by the legislature, with the intent of moving the 2023 adjustment from July 1 to January 1, 2024 to align with government agencies’ fiscal years. It appears that there was a drafting oversight and instead of changing the next adjustment date from July 1, 2023 to January 1, 2024, the legislature changed the beginning adjustment date from July 1, 2008 to January 1, 2024, effectively rolling back all the previous compensation adjustments to the 2007 rate.
Mr. McChesney further explained that as RCW 53.12.260 allows a port commission to set compensation in lieu of the amounts specified in the statute and the Washington State Constitution prohibits a change in commissioner compensation during the term and it is in the best interest of the Port that all Commissioners are paid the same, WPPA Counsel Frank Chmelik recommended that ports remedy this issue by passing a resolution that maintains the current per diem and monthly rate through January 1, 2024. Port Attorney, Brad Cattle, has reviewed the recommendation and helped staff prepare the resolution that is before the Commission for discussion and approval.
Commissioner Faires asked if RCW 53.12.260 gives the Commission the authority, irrespective of what the legislature might do, to set appropriate compensation. Mr. McChesney responded that there are some statutory limits to what the Commission can authorize. Commissioner Faires said he is seeking assurance that the proposed resolution is within the scope of RCW 53.12.260, and Port Attorney Cattle answered affirmatively. Commissioner Orvis reviewed that, in the past, the Commission elected to set compensation consistent with what the legislature set. The proposed resolution would simply ensure that all Commissioners are paid what the legislature has set as adequate compensation. Mr. McChesney added that it also corrects a legislative discrepancy and ensures that all Commissioners are paid at the same level.
Port Attorney Cattle explained that the resolution will avoid the Port having to pay newly-elected and re-elected commissioners different amounts based on the legislative error. He said his understanding is that the WPPA is working to get the legislature to correct the mistake.
COMMISSIONER PRESTON MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION APPROVE RESOLUTION NUMBER 21-06, ADDRESSING THE APPARENT LEGISLATIVE DRAFTING MISTAKE IN THE 2020 AMENDMENT TO RCW 53.12.260 REGARDING COMMISSIONER COMPENSATION. COMMISSIONER FAIRES SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
APPROVAL OF ACCOUNTS PAYABLE AUTOMATION AND DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE AND IMPLEMENTATION SERVICES
Ms. Drennan explained that public records management and retrieval is an important function that is mostly invisible until someone has to go search for something in a dusty box downstairs. The Port’s current procedures are very labor intensive and time consuming, and a digital document management system will decrease response time to public records requests and create efficiencies in other administrative and accounting functions.
Ms. Drennan reported that Port staff researched several document management systems and recommends DocLink document management software. Implementation will begin in January and will take between 90 and 120 days to implement and train Port staff. The total cost of the project is $62,015, and the Port was awarded a $30,000 grant from the Washington State Archives to help fund the project. She noted that the project was budgeted at $70,000 in the 2022 Capital Budget. She summarized that the project meets the Port’s missions of being a responsible financial steward, providing a high level of customer service consistent with the values of the clients and ensuring the Port facilities are attractive, safe, clean, user-friendly and readily accessible. She recommended the Commission approve the DocLink proposal and authorize staff to initiate an electronic payment of $30,701.66, which includes the purchase of the software and a 25% deposit of $7,263.75 for implementing services.
Commissioner Preston asked if there would be an ongoing annual cost associated with the project. Ms. Drennan answered that the on-going annual cost will be $4,104.
COMMISSIONERN ORVIS MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION APPROVE THE DOCLINK PROPOSAL AND AUTHORIZE STAFF TO INITIATE AN ELECTRONIC PAYMENT OF $30,701.66. COMMISSIONER PRESTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
PORT OPERATIONS 3RD QUARTER REPORT
Mr. Baker presented the 3rd Quarter Port Operations Report, highlighting the following:
• Hours of Operation. Due to staffing shortages, Marina Operations and Dry Storage reduced hours late in the quarter from 7:00am-5:00pm to 8:00am-4:00pm.
• Travelift Operating Hours. Due to the lack of certified operators, operating days for the Travelift were adjusted from Monday-Saturday to Tuesday-Saturday. Currently, one staff member is being trained to operate the Travelift, and a third operator will begin training on December 1st. Mondays will be opened again once the second operator has been fully trained. Sundays will continue to be an off day.
• In-Water Moorage Occupancy. In water moorage there were 28 terminations and 17 assignments, equating to a turnover ratio of 4.2%. At the end of 3rd quarter, there were 320 applicants on the waitlist, compared to 213 at the same time in 2020. Commissioner Faires noted that, insofar as the quality of the waitlist is good, it forecasts good things for the Port of Edmonds.
• Guest Moorage. The total number of boats in Guest Moorage decreased by 3% (74 boats), but the number of nights increased by 1% (42 nights). There were 54 (86 nights) reservations compared to 69 (105 nights) at the same time last year.
• Document Compliance. Third quarter is traditionally a tough time for document compliance, as tenants are out cruising and Washington State registrations renew on June 30th. Insurance compliance at the end of the quarter was 86% and registration compliance was 56%. Both are four-year highs for the quarter, which indicates staff is still doing a good job of tracking the documents down. He expects the numbers will improve by the end of the 4th quarter.
• Dry Storage Occupancy. Dry Storage was at 96% occupancy, which is 3.4% greater than last year. Trailer parking occupancy was at 98%, with just one spot unleased. Total boat handling increased by 2% and launch activity increased by 1%. Due to the pandemic, the Port implemented a reservation requirement for the launcher, and reservation service increased by 17% over the same time period in 2021. The reservation system is working well and helps with scheduling staff time.
• Workyard. Travelift round trips decreased by 24%, with 84 in 2021 compared to 110 in 2020. Sling time with pressure wash decreased by 16%, with 26 in 2021 compared to 31 in 2020. Sling time with no pressure wash decreased by 55%, with 18 in 2021 compared to 40 in 2020. Stall usage decreased by 17% (116 fewer days). 27 pressure wash treatments were done in the quarter, which is 22 less than 3rd quarter 2020.
• Fuel Dock. The total gallons sold increased by nearly 15% compared to 2020. Diesel increased by 51%, and gasoline decreased by 6%. Puget Sound Express was a big factor in the increase in diesel fuel sold. The Port’s fuel prices remained competitive with other marinas in the area, being slightly under average for both diesel and gasoline. Commissioner Faires requested that staff provide information about how much of the diesel fuel sold could be attributed to Puget Sound Express.
• Public Launch. There were 191 fewer round trips at the Public Launch, and one-way trips decreased by 1%.
• Events. The Sea Jazz music series ran through the summer and the events were successful.
• Staffing. There has been a lot of staffing turnover, which can lead to more issues and problems and a lack of service, but that did not occur. It was a challenging quarter, and staff did a great job. The security team continues to improve, and other staff stepped up and helped cover some of the security shifts when needed. The administrative staff also provided significant support, and the maintenance team was critical. From a permanent employee standpoint, the Port should be better off in 2022, but it is not clear that will be the case from a seasonal standpoint.
Mr. McChesney added that the Port is currently working to fill the Moorage Coordinator Supervisor position, but recruitment has been difficult. He noted that while they lost four front-line employees, all left for personal reasons rather than for better jobs that paid more. He feels comfortable that the Port still has much to offer as far as compensation, benefits, and quality of work experience.
Commissioner Preston recalled previous discussions about potential opportunities for internships during the summer. Perhaps the Port could offer internships that are geared towards various types of training. Commissioner Johnston asked if the Port has any anecdotal data on the courses of study that would help the Port recruit from certain types of schools and/or programs. Mr. McChesney replied that the Port hasn’t hired an intern for a number of years, and the focus of past interns has been on business development and marketing. Going forward, the Port would need to carefully define the requirements to create an experience that provides interns with insight into potentially developing a career path in the port hospitality business or marine trades.
Mr. Baker advised that staff has decided not to participate in The Seattle Boat Show in 2022. Several other ports are leaning that way or have already made that decision. At this point, staff isn’t comfortable sending employees, given all the uncertainty surrounding the event. At this time, it is more important for staff to be training and serving customers. They will reassess the situation at the end of next year.
CITY OF EDMONDS REPORT
Council Member Olson didn’t have any items to report.
Commissioner Orvis requested more information about the proposed City office on Highway 99. Council Member Olson said having a City office on Highway 99 has been under discussion for a while, but the site is new. Currently, there are discussions about other functions that might potentially locate on the site, as well. For example, the City has never used its own facilities for the community court. A meeting space available to the public is also part of the discussion. Given that the lease would be for three years, there would be time for the community to provide input on whether or not the site adequately serves the City’s needs. She invited the Commissioners to share their thoughts, as well.
Given the current price of electric vehicles, Commissioner Preston suggested at their last meeting that the City Council consider postponing the switch to electric vehicles for a year or two. Council Member Olson agreed that, given issues with pricing and timing, this is something the Council should consider. While they all believe that moving to an electric fleet is the right thing to do, perhaps it should be put off for a year to allow for prices to adjust for supply and demand.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney announced that building permit applications have been submitted for the new Administration/Maintenance Building. Since that time, the Building Official requested a flood elevation certificate that wasn’t previously part of the Port’s submittal, and a surveyor was hired to complete the work. He reminded the Commission that when the City recently changed its Development Code to respond to the new Flood Plain Map, it required that all new structures be two feet above flood plain elevation. This change had the potential effect of reducing the nominal height of the building from 30 feet to 28 feet, but the City clarified that the elevation would be calculated from the required two feet above the flood plain elevation.
Mr. McChesney reported that the Joint Aquatic Resource Permit Application (JARPA) for the North Portwalk and Seawall Project was submitted a week ago and is currently under initial review to make sure it is complete. Commissioner Faires asked when final design information would be available so the Commission could start discussions about what portions of the North Portwalk project could be attributable to the marina as opposed to public access. Mr. McChesney suggested that they could get close to an accurate allocation using the current 60% design. However, the allocations cannot be finalized until there is an actual contract with a schedule of values. Recognizing that the numbers would be non-binding estimates, Commissioner Faires asked staff to provide that information to the Commission within the next few months. Commissioner Orvis voiced concern that making allocations based on estimated costs would be very difficult and require a great deal of judgment.
Mr. McChesney pointed out that the Port doesn’t know how long it will take to get the permits so the project can start, and the current facilities must be maintained in the meantime. Just last week, the maintenance staff replaced 87 boards ($125 each) using 9 boxes of spikes ($110 each) and 150 man hours. They need to replace 163 more boards, using 240 more man hours, to complete the project. The work is labor intensive and cannot be postponed.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Johnston reported that he participated in an Economic Alliance of Snohomish County (EASC) Coffee Chat on the employment landscape, where two Western Washington University professors talked about what was happening in the job market. There are a lot of moving parts going on in the job market right now. Although the unemployment rate continues to decline, a lot of people are leaving the workforce for a variety of reasons. This has created a crisis, which has affected the Port specifically. They will have to deal with these issues for a while longer, but it should get better within the next three to six months.
Commissioner Johnston said he also participated in a visit from Gerry O’Keefe, the Environmental Representative from the Washington Public Port Association (WPPA). He was impressed with the Port’s projects, but less impressed with the Port’s prospects from the standpoint of speedy permitting. A lot of work is being done behind the scenes to get to some accommodation between the warring factions of the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Local representatives and senators have all been contacted, and hopefully, some headway is being made. He suggested there may be an opportunity for the Port to participate with a group of other ports that are funding positions to facilitate permitting progress.
Commissioner Faires reported that the minutes from the last Edmonds Economic Development Commission meeting should be available within the next week, and he would provide a report at the next meeting. He said he plans to attend their November 17th meeting.
Commissioner Preston said he attended his first EASC Board Meeting, and he and Commissioner Johnston also attended the Salmon in the City event that talked about a variety of things that are affecting salmon in the water. He was particularly struck by the discussion about how so many of the things we do have adverse effects on salmon habitat. Examples include copper from vehicle brakes and tire materials that end up going downstream. He said he attended another meeting where David Voetmann, Program Manager for Edmonds Community College’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, talked about innovation. Lastly, he said he attended an EASC Business Resiliency meeting, where there was discussion about what is being called the “great resignation.” The unemployment rate is low, but employers can’t find workers.
Commissioner Orvis said he also attended the meeting with Gerry O’Keefe, and found it to be very pleasant and informative.
Commissioner Harris announced that she would attend the WPPA Annual Meeting on December 1st through 3rd.
Mr. McChesney announced that Commissioner Elect Jay Grant would participate in the WPPA’s New Commissioner’s Seminar.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:01 p.m.
Port Commission Secretary