02 Jun Commission Meeting Minutes 5-8-23
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING
(Via Zoom, Hybrid Meeting)
May 8, 2023
Steve Johnston, President
Jim Orvis, Vice President
Jay Grant, Secretary
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Director of Marina Operations
Tina Drennan, Manager of Finance and Accounting
Brittany Williams, Manager of Properties and Economic Development
Jordan Stephens, Port Attorney
Neil Tibbott, Edmonds City Council
CALL TO ORDER
President Johnston 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 GRANT MOVED THAT THE CONSENT AGENDA BE APPROVED TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
A. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
B. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $255,052.01
C. APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NO. 23-02, BANK SIGNATORY AUTHORIZATION
COMMISSIONER PRESTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Commissioner Grant referred to Resolution No. 23-02 and expressed his opinion that it would be appropriate for a Commissioner, specifically the Chair of the Finance Committee to have bank signatory authorization, as well. Ms. Drennan responded that it isn’t typical to have a Commissioner on the group of signators. She was recently chatted with other port finance managers and learned that most only require one signature on checks, and the Port requires two. Most ports simply require a signature from the finance director.
Commissioner Orvis pointed out that, currently, multiple people are authorized to sign checks. Even if the motion is approved, it wouldn’t require a Commissioner signature on checks. The Commissioner would be just one of the people who could sign checks. Commissioner Grant said he would expect that, under most conditions, a Commissioner would not have to get involved. However, the bank would not even talk to a Commissioner unless he/she is listed as a signator. Commissioner Johnston pointed out that a Commissioner could take an authorized signator with them to the bank to get access.
Commissioner McChesney said he understands the point, and in the past, a Commissioner has had bank signatory authorization. However, it isn’t mandatory and has never been mentioned as something necessary by the auditor. Commissioner Orvis said he has had signatory authorization in the past and has signed checks on at least a few occasions when other signators were unavailable.
The Commissioners agreed to remand the issue to the Finance Committee for further discussion and a recommendation.
Mr. McChesney entered the following letter from Charles Malmgren into the record:
“I was disappointed to hear about the project to “Re-Brand” the Port of Edmonds. Since re-branding came up in your Executive Director interviews, I assume you considered it important. With a motto like “Hold what you Got and Grab More” floating around, I think it’s more important to improve the Port’s ESG score first. Not once during the Executive Director candidate interviews I attended was mention made of Taxpayers, Tenants or the Environment.
Numerous times I have been told that the Port of Edmonds is an autonomous, independent special purpose corporation. I don’t know how independent it is, considering it maxes out the taxes it takes from the area, gets its retirement and medical from the State of Washington, pays no regulatory property tax and grabs any grant, State, County or Federal it can get its hands on.
About the Port Executive Director: From reading statutes it appears that the Washington State Legislature has directed that each Port will have Commissioners who set policy and hire an Executive Director to implement them. Recently, the Port’s Executive Director in consultation with his design team had plans drawn, submitted and approved for building the new Administration and Maintenance Building. At no time were those plans hidden from you. Included was the size and location of the Commission Meeting Room: Second Floor, building center. Since the Commission meets for approximately 4 hours a month, includes generally less than 10 people and mostly during hours of darkness, it was reasonable to center the meeting room in the building and keep the remaining exterior space for lease.
At some point after the walls were up, you took a tour of the new space, realized it did not have the size and windows you felt your due and unanimously directed a redesign and rebuild for a grand second floor meeting room. How about “Re-Branding” it the Administration, Maintenance and Commission Building?
More than doubling the size and cost of the Commission Meeting Room so that you can get an occasional glimpse of the BN Yard and the Marsh seems selfish. You now get the Million Dollar View you feel is your due and I wonder if the residents of Edmonds and Woodway agree? How many years of their hard-earned property taxes does your new room represent? Or our rent?
Please direct your efforts towards improving the Ports ESG score first and “Re-Brand” later.”
There were no other public comments.
PRESENTATION BY DAVID MARTEN FROM ELEVATE
Ms. Williams reviewed that the Port entered into a contract with Elevate Government Affairs on March 1, 2023 for federal lobbying and grant services. The contract, which runs through the end of 2023, focuses on assisting the Port with obtaining state and federal funding for the North Portwalk and Seawall Restoration Project. She introduced David Marten from Elevate Government Affairs, who was present to provide an overview of contract goals and funding opportunities. She advised that Kayla Roberson from Elevate Government Affairs will be a major partner, as well, but was unable to join the meeting. She shared information about their background, qualifications and work experience.
David Marten, Elevate Government Affairs, briefly introduced his firm, as well as each of the firm’s team members. He advised that the firm represents everything from local governments to technology firms, universities, etc. Current clients include the Port of Seattle, Northwest Seaport Alliance, and Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority.
Mr. Marten emphasized that successfully pursuing federal grand funding will require generating strong support from the local community, elected officials and federal agencies. They are currently working with Port staff to formulate an outreach plan, recognizing that the messaging will be somewhat different for each of the groups. The Port can take the lead in reaching out to Port tenants and immediate neighbors, and they plan to reach out to the Chamber, Rotary, etc., as well. They will work with government stakeholders that that will have a regulatory or physical presence around the project, including the City of Edmonds, Snohomish County, State Legislators, Washington State Department of Transportation, etc. It will also be important to reach out to the State’s Congressional Delegation (Senators Murray and Cantwell and Representative Larsen), as well as a number of federal agencies.
Mr. Marten briefly reviewed the four federal funding opportunities that their effort would focus on:
• Rebuilding America Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity Program (RAISE). This is an annual United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) program that funds surface transportation projects, generally smaller to mid-size, that have significant local and regional impact. The award minimum is $5 million for projects in urban areas, and the maximum funding is $24 million or $45 million, depending on which sub-pot of funds is used. The maximum federal cost share is 80%. Applications are due February 2024, but a lot of work will need to be done prior to that date. They expect awards to be announced mid-2024.
• Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program (BRIC). This is a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program that funds pre-disaster mitigation activities, such as flood prevention. All applications are submitted by the State of Washington, so they will have to work closely with the State. Maximum grant size was recently increased from $10 million to $50 million, and the maximum federal cost share is 75%. Eligible projects must reduce or eliminate the risk and damage from future hazards. In the Port’s case, extreme hazards include winter storms, tsunamis, flooding, and collapse of the seawall. All of these could have a significant impact on Edmonds. Applications are due April 2024, and awards will be announced in 3rd Quarter 2024.
• Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT). This is a new USDOT program to fund projects that make transportation infrastructure more resilient to climate change and extreme weather. This program is focused around federal highways and is under the Federal Highway Administration. For this application, they will need to demonstrate via modeling the impacts a collapsed seawall and an extreme flood event would have on the state highway and the larger community. There is no maximum award size, but it will be highly competitive. The maximum cost share is 80%.
• Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program. This program is administered through the United States Department of Interior (USDOI) at the federal level, and they will make the final determination. However, the initial round of selection will be done by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (WSRCO). Applications are due to the WSRCO in November 2023, and they will make a recommendation around April or May 2024. The USDOI will make the final decision next October. Maximum award size is $9.8 million, and the maximum federal cost share is 50%.
Mr. Marten cautioned that, for some reason, seawalls have never been at the center of any of the federal infrastructure programs. Most are focused on roads and highways, transit and ferries. They will need to carefully define the impacts to the community, multimodal transportation and the Port, itself. How they communicate the importance of the Portwalk will be critical. They must point out the flood-protection benefits, pedestrian benefits, etc.
Mr. Marten reported that he and Ms. Roberson have had some introductory brainstorming meetings with Ms. Williams, Mr. McChesney and Commissioners Harris and Grant, talking about outreach and grant strategies. He will continue working on a communication plan and identifying potential impacts as previously discussed. He will also prepare a timeline for outreach to the various stakeholders and preparation of the grant application. They will subcontract out some of the elements that are required for the grant application.
Mr. McChesney asked if the strategy is to get one large grant or several smaller grants. Mr. Marten said a variety of grants could cover the costs when it comes to construction of the seawall. It would be great to secure one large grant, but that may not be the end result. Money is tight and they try to spread it around as much as possible. If they offer less than the requested amount, the Port should probably accept. As long as the Port doesn’t exceed the total federal cost share, they can accept multiple grant offers.
Commissioner Preston asked if one grant program would need to know about the other grant programs the Port submits applications for. Mr. Marten explained that, in the process of applying for a grant, the Port will be asked to name its funding sources, but they don’t typically ask if you are applying for any other grants. In terms of the grant agreement, the Port will need to meet certain assurances, one of which is demonstrating that your cost share is not in excess of what the grant requires.
Commissioner Johnston noted that a similar project is the City of Seattle’s seawall. He asked if Mr. Marten knows what grants they got, if any. Mr. Marten said the City of Seattle’s seawall was done with Army Corps of Engineers funding. This funding is a years-long process requiring a whole host of authorizations through congress, etc. In the timeline the Port is working with (5-year service life of the seawall) it doesn’t make sense to apply for an Army corps of Engineers grant. Commissioner Preston pointed out that the City of Olympia also replaced a seawall. He suggest Mr. Marten research their funding sources.
Commissioner Preston asked if the cost of subcontracting the technical analysis was included in the overall contract agreement amount, and Mr. Marten answered affirmatively.
Commissioner Orvis asked Mr. Marten to explain why outreach to local stakeholders is important. Mr. Marten said it is important to communicate the impacts and benefits of the projects, as well as the timelines. The seawall and portwalk are key pieces of infrastructure for the community. Having letters of support from these groups when applying for grants can help demonstrate the value to the community. Letters of support from elected officials and government agencies will also be important.
Commissioner Grant explained that each stakeholder needs to communicate why the projects are important to them. The people who review and approve grant applications don’t have a lot of time, so they look for things upfront. It is important to understand that the goal of the grant applications isn’t to sell a “pretty” portwalk. They need to sell the fact that they have a deteriorating seawall. Commissioner Preston suggested that the element of having a better, safer portwalk to attract people to the waterfront should also be part of it. Commissioner Grant responded that it would likely be the last 10%. When reviewing grant applications, they focus on the critical issues identified for each of the grant programs. The Port’s application must emphasize these issues in order to be competitive. They must do a good job of selling the project locally and educating state legislators and agencies. Mr. Marten agreed that, in addition to community outreach, it is also important to provide rational from an economic perspective on why the project would be a good federal investment. It will be important to describe the intrinsic benefits of having more recreation and quality of life. However, the FEMA grant focuses on hazard mitigation, showing the enormous economic impact of investing in seawall repairs will be imperative.
Commissioner Grant asked about the current rules for appropriation of federal funding. Mr. Marten said appropriations is a real mess right now. There is a lot happening this month, including debt ceiling negotiations that will impact what happens on appropriations. The appropriators in the House, unlike the Senate, are being told to write their bills to significantly lower fiscal levels. House Republicans are calling for some pretty significant cuts in programs, and there is a chance they will see less funding. A lot of the transportation budget, which includes the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is being taken up by housing dollars. Interest rates have risen, and the amount of money it takes to build a project or provide a loan to a low-income tenant is reflective of the market conditions. If legislators write a particular bill to a certain level, more of the money will be taken up by housing, and transportation funding will be less.
Commissioner Preston asked if Port staff or the consultant have talked to the Edmonds Yacht Club (EYC). Commissioner Preston recalled that the EYC is concerned about potential disruptions that impact their ability to rent space. However, they understand that, once complete, the project will make their facility more attractive. Ms. Williams said she has talked with the EYC on a number of occasions and provided a tentative timeline for the project.
Commissioner Orvis recalled that the north seawall, failed several years ago. He asked if there are pictures of the damage caused by the failure that could be attached to the grant application as an example.
Mr. Marten concurred with Commissioner Grant that federal grants are big programs, but there are also big reasons why the Port’s project should be a high priority. The firm’s delegation is very good about communicating to federal partners about the unique circumstances and challenges in the Northwest. Commissioner Grant observed that it is helpful to have Senator Cantwell as Chair of the Commerce Committee, Senator Murray as Chair of the Appropriations Committee and Representative Larsen as Chair of the Transportation Commission. Mr. Marten agreed and added that the Transportation Infrastructure Bill raised the amount of money the grant programs are able to offer.
Commissioner Preston asked Mr. Marten if he has a gut feeling as to the range of funding the Port could expect. Mr. Marten suggested that the Port should ask for the full 80% maximum federal cost share for the project, which is expected to cost around $18-$25 million. They can also look at state programs to help fill the funding gap. He expects the Port will be able to obtain the maximum funding, but it may come from a combination of grant programs.
APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NO. 23-03, AUTHORIZING INVESTMENT IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT INVESTMENT POOL
Ms. Drennan explained that the Port is a member of the State’s Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP), which describes itself as a “voluntary investment vehicle operated by the State Treasurer.” Over 530 local governments have participated in the pool since it was started in 1986 to provide safe, liquid and competitive investment options for local governments pursuance to Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 43.250 The LGIP lets local governments use the State Treasurer’s resources to safely invest their funds while enjoying the economies of scale available from a $15-26 billion pool fund investment portfolio.
Ms. Drennan further explained that the LGIP’s investment objectives are, in priority order: 1) safety of principal, 2) maintaining adequate liquidity to meet cash flows, and 3) providing a competitive interest rate relative to other comparable investment alternatives. The LGIP offers 100% liquidity to its participants. Its portfolio is managed in a manner generally consistent with Security Exchange Commission (SEC) regulated Rule 2a-7 money market funds. LGIP investment guidelines are spelled out in the LGIP Investment Policy (attached to the Staff Report). LGIP participants include all 39 counties in Washington State, all Washington cities with a population greater than 10,000, and 229 cities and towns total. It also includes 160 special taxing districts, 30 community colleges and universities, 7 state agencies, and 24 other public bodies.
Ms. Drennan continued that the LGIP is a short-term investment option, and funds can be moved from the Port’s bank account to the LGIP or from the LGIP to the Port’s bank account within a couple of days. Staff time to initiate the transaction is about 10 minutes. She said she reviews the interest rates offered by the Port’s bank and the LGIP on a quarterly basis. When interest rates were low, it didn’t make a lot of sense to move funds from the Port’s bank account to the LGIP, as the fees to transfer the funds would use up a lot of the possible interest gained. However, the current LGIP interest rate is 4.8294% and the Port’s bank, WAFd Bank, is offering 3.03%. On a million dollars, that’s about $1,500 difference in interest per month. She said she asked WAFd if they could meet the rate, but they couldn’t as they have to collateralize 100% of the government funds invested in their bank. She spoke with the Executive Director, and they agreed that the Port should start using the LGIP as an option for short-term investing.
Ms. Drennan outlined that, as part of the change in executive directors, the Commission needs to change the Port staff authorized to make deposits and withdrawals. The previous resolution states that Mr. McChesney is authorized to make all amendments, change and alterations to the designation form, which states which Port staff are authorized to make contributions and withdrawals on behalf of the Port. The LGIP Administrator recommended that the Port change the staff person authorized to a title instead of an individual’s name. She explained that when she transfers funds to the LGIP, she submits the deposit receipts for the Executive Director’s review and approval. She sends the Executive Director the monthly statement for his/her review and approval. Quarterly, this information is reported to the Commission in the Investment Report.
Ms. Drennan recommended the Commission approve Resolution No. 23-03 as presented.
COMMISSIONER PRESTON MOVED THE COMMISSION APPROVE RESOLUTION NO. 23-03, AUTHORIZING INVESTMENT OF PORT OF EDMONDS MONIES IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT INVESTMENT POOL (LGIP). COMMISSIONER GRANT SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
APPROVAL OF ADMINISTRATION/MAINTENANCE BUILDING CHANGE ORDER
Mr. McChesney reviewed that, as previously reported to the Commission , the change order resulted from the approved re-design of the Commission Meeting Room in the new Administration/Maintenance Building that is currently under construction. At the April 10th meeting, he reported that the initial change order proposal from the general contractor (SpeeWest) came in at $253,240. Upon further review with the design and project team, the Port rejected this amount and directed the contractor to go back and take another look at all of the cost factors and contract credits, including subcontractors. This relook resulted in a revised change order amount of $152,540.
Mr. McChesney explained that there are two caveats:
1. A big portion of the reduced amount is attributed to the contractor eliminating the imputed cost for “General Conditions” in the amount of $73,330. This cost factor is a fudge against completion. That is to say, if the additional work extends the contract completion date, there would be the potential for extra cost relating to project management fees and site overhead. Depending on how much extra time actually occurs, some of this may be recoverable by the contractor upon completion and subject to good faith negotiation.
2. The City requires additional fire protection between the shop below and the Commission Meeting Room above. Although no final decision has been approved by the City, the design team has proposed a code-based work around that would void this necessity. In other words, no additional fire protection should be required based on the Port’s code interpretation. It is still under review, but at this stage, the City’s building Official has indicated a preliminary agreement with the Port’s code classification.
Mr. McChesney summarized that total change orders for the project to date are $222,252 (see itemized list attached to Staff Report). In the aggregate, the contract changes reflect a 3.06% cost escalation from the original contract, well within the range of what might otherwise be expected for this type of construction project. The standard tolerance is usually 15% (+/-). The Port is right on track with budget and schedule, anticipating completion sometime in August 2023. He recommended the Commission accept the revised Change Order 16 and authorize him to sign the contract revision as presented.
Commissioner Grant complimented Mr. McChesney for saving the Port over $100,000 for this change order. Mr. McChesney credited the project team. Jackson Main reviewed the change order with a fine-tooth comb and the entire team has done an excellent job.
COMMISSIONER GRANT MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION ACCEPT CHANGE ORDER (COP-16) AS PRESENTED AND FURTHER AUTHORIZE THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO SIGN THE REQUIRED CONTRACT REVISION ACCORDINGLY. COMMISSIONER ORVIS SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
MISSION STATEMENT PROPOSAL
Commissioner Harris reviewed that the Port’s Mission Statement was established as a preamble to the Strategic Plan in 1992. Since that time, there have been significant changes to the Port’s operating environment and Commission policies. Consequently, various comments and discussions suggested it might be time to review the document and make appropriate edits to update its overall applicability. Of particularly concern is that the Mission Statement, as currently written, is too long. It sort of represented a cross-section view of all the things the Port does instead of summarizing the basic mission, vision and values it should express and more succinctly. The issue was remanded to a Commission Subcommittee (Commissioners Harris and Grant), and their recommendation was attached to the Staff Report.
Commissioner Harris explained that a mission statement should define what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. It should be simple and straight forward. The proposed draft Mission Statement was formed after reviewing the Port’s current Mission Statement, as well as mission statements from other ports. As proposed, the Mission Statement reads, “The mission of the Port of Edmonds is to provide value to our community through economic development, marina and commercial operations, waterfront public access and environmental stewardship.” She noted that the Communications Committee has reviewed the draft statement and provided feedback, too. She commented that “waterfront public access” was used in place of just “public access” to emphasize the Port’s location on the waterfront.
Commissioner Preston suggested that they add “exceptional” before “value.” He also suggested the term “economic opportunities” rather than “economic development.” A lot of people equate development to building, and that isn’t always the case. Lastly, he suggested the term “public access to the waterfront” instead of “public waterfront access.’
The Commission discussed the proposed changes, but the majority indicated support for the subcommittee’s original proposal.
COMMISSIONER GRANT MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION ADOPT THE MISSION STATEMENT TO READ, “THE MISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS IS TO PROVIDE VALUE TO OUR COMMUNITY THROUGH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, MARINA AND COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS, WATERFRONT PUBLIC ACCESS AND ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP.” COMMISSIONER ORVIS SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED 4-1, WITH COMMISSIONER PRESTON VOTING IN OPPOSITION.
Commissioner Harris advised that the next step, following adoption of the Mission Statement, will be the Strategic Action and Strategic Plan.
CITY OF EDMONDS REPORT
Dave Teitzel, Edmonds City Council, recalled that, at the last Commission meeting, he announced that the legislature had passed nearly 20 bills that relate one way or another to affordable housing and density. They apply to cities over 25,000, including the City of Edmonds. A number of those bills were forwarded to Governor Inslee today for his signature, including House Bill 1110. The City is anxiously waiting to see how the bills will all shake out.
Councilmember Teitzel reported that he and Councilmember Buckshnis have prepared a draft letter from the City Council to Governor Inslee regarding the Unocal Property. The letter proposes that the State consider retaining ownership of the property and work with the City to maintain it as open space for the environment and salmon and for future generations to enjoy. The letter is now in the hands of the Council President and will go to Mayor Nelson on May 9th for comment. They are hoping to present the letter to the City Council for approval on May 23rd. Hopefully, all Councilmembers will sign it, as well as Mayor Nelson, and then it can be sent off. They’d like to explore this option as opposed to just a straight purchase of the property by the City from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). A copy of the draft letter was sent to each of the Commissioners, inviting their feedback.
Councilmember Teitzel said he has been working with Mayor Nelson and the Public Works Director to address the situation at the Fishing Pier Parking Lot. He met with the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access Commission, who is very concerned about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues with the two parking spaces at the Fishing Pier. They have been in communication with Mayor Nelson, as well. Commissioner Grant announced that some work was taking place there earlier in the day.
Councilmember Teitzel expressed his belief that the contract between the Port and City regarding the Fishing Pier Parking Lot needs some work. He suggested the Port and City Attorneys should both review the contract, which is very outdated. For example, the contract doesn’t talk about splitting parking infraction revenue with the Port. The City’s Police Department issues infractions and the City collects the revenue. If the lot is co-owned, they should probably be sharing the revenue. They should also talk about the eventuality of repaving the lot entirely at some point, and the contract should address how these costs would be shared.
Commissioner Preston asked how the draft letter that was drafted by Councilmembers Teitzel and Buckshnis would work with the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Councilmember Teitzel answered that the letter would suggest that the first option would be for the State to retain ownership. If the State feels that isn’t workable, the City would proceed with the MOU.
EDMONDS YACHT CLUB REPORT
Andor Boeck, Edmonds Yacht Club, announced that Bob Wise, President of the Recreational Boating Association of Washington (RBAW) spoke at the club’s last board meeting. RBAW is an advocacy and conservancy group that protects the rights of boaters. It is important for the Port to know what legislation has impacted boater insurance. Part of Mr. Wise’s task was to significantly increase RBAWs dues, so that the association can transform from a volunteer organization to also provide some key positions to take on more lobbying work. The club has representatives who are very active in RBAW, and he learned a lot from the presentation. He encouraged anyone interested to attend the next club meeting, where the presentation will be presented again. For those who can’t attend, he can provide a copy of the presentation.
Mr. Boeck also announced that the club would be holding an open house on Friday, May 12th. There will be a barbecue, as well as an opportunity to meet members of the club and have questions answered. He invited them to share the information with anyone they know who might be interested in joining the club. Commissioner Preston noted that the Commissioners received a flyer announcing the open house.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney announced that this would be his last official meeting with the Commission as Executive Director. He thanked the Commission for their support, guidance and confidence. The past 14 years have been absolutely wonderful. He also thanked the Port staff. They have a great team, and without them, his success would be a moot point. He thanked the staff who service customers and provide administrative support. He also thanked the maintenance staff, who are as good as you can get. They do so much around the Port that goes unnoticed, and this saves the Port a lot of money by doing quality work on their own initiative. The Marina Operations Staff is a large reason for the Port’s existence. The employees come to work everyday committed to making things better.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Johnston thanked Mr. McChesney for being the face of the Port with the public for the past 14 years. He said it has been an absolute pleasure to work with him and his excellent staff. He recalled that, a little more than 14 years ago, Mr. McChesney reached out to him, advising that he was applying for the Port of Edmonds Executive Director position and asking him to write a letter of referral. He said Mr. McChesney would be missed, but he paved the way for a brighter Port and made them all better.
Commissioner Harris also thanked Mr. McChesney and said she has enjoyed working with him from the beginning of her time as a Commissioner. She has appreciated his straightforwardness and willingness to listen. He’s been a great mentor.
Commissioner Preston commented that Mr. McChesney has taught him so much about the industry because of his experience at the Port and prior.
Commissioner Orvis said that, speaking as one of the Commissioners who hired Mr. McChesney, he has never had a second thought or doubt that they hired the right guy at the right time. You had to have been here prior to Mr. McChesney’s time at the Port to really appreciate the difference. He thanked him so much for what he has done.
Commissioner Grant said he has only known Mr. McChesney for a little more than two years, but he has really appreciated how he kept him informed. He didn’t know what to expect, as the Port of Edmonds is a lot different than other Ports he has worked with. He said he appreciates everything he has done for the Port. He has learned that Mr. McChesney was trusted and always did a good job, and he was always amazed at how well he kept everyone informed.
Commissioner Grant announced that a long-time Woodway Town Councilmember recently resigned a few weeks ago, and they are currently in the process of choosing a new member. This Councilmember had run the Architectural Committee for a number of years and was a valuable resource.
Commissioner Grant reported that he has been tracking the Edmonds City Council, and has been working with Mr. McChesney, Councilmember Teitzel and Council President Tibbott to address the situation at the Fishing Pier Parking Lot, and they were out paving it today. Rather than tearing up the asphalt, they simply fixed the hump, as suggested by Mr. McChesney. They need to also consider whether the signage is current and legal.
Commissioner Grant reported that the City has been working to update their various codes, most of which are related to taller buildings along Highway 99. A lot of the proposed code changes appear to be encroaching on what has always been a single-family community, and this is something the City Council is struggling with.
Commissioner Grant pointed out that the Unocal Property is currently zoned commercial. He noted that the Waterfront Plan is still moving forward, and it is important that the Port is included in the discussions. He said he has appreciated Councilmember Teitzel’s efforts to keep them informed.
Commissioner Grant reported that he and Commissioner Preston were present for Annie Crawley’s recent cleanup dive. It rained nearly all the time, but she was able to film some of the event and both Commissioners were interviewed. He was amazed at how much they were able to bring up off the ocean floor.
Commissioner Grant advised that he would attend the Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) Spring Meeting next week, as well as the WPPA Finance Meeting that is coming up shortly.
Commissioner Orvis reported that 3,302 bills were introduced in the legislature and 494 passed. They are currently at Governor Inslee’s desk for final signature. He specifically noted the following:
• A big problem is the Blake Decision, where the Supreme Court struck down Washington’s criminal statute for possession of a controlled substance. The legislature couldn’t come to agreement so Governor Inslee has called for a special 30-day session in mid-July. The hook is that, once they are brought back to special session, they can pass other legislation, as well.
• HB 1746, which would have mandated broadband deployment, didn’t pass.
• A bill that would have required greater support for freight rail did not pass.
• A $.09 public facilities tax was passed to continue the current tax through 2024.
• The operating budget is $69.2 billion, with $4.7 billion in new spending leaving $3 billion in reserves. The budget doesn’t rely on any new taxes or fees. It covers education, family services, housing, public health, etc.
• The Climate Commitment Act was allocated a lot of money for implementation.
• The construction budget includes investments to state and local agencies for building infrastructure projects such as public schools, universities, parks and prisons, but it doesn’t include anything transportation related. The final bill was $9 billion in total funds, of which $4.7 billion is debt limit bonds. The remaining amounts are federal funds, Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA) accounts and Climate Commitment Act accounts.
• Education was allocated $872 million, which isn’t enough. Higher Education got $869 million in general obligation bonds.
• Natural resource funding will go towards water quality, salmon recovery and water supply. Recently a lot of forever chemicals were found on San Juan Island in an area that everyone thought was pristine.
• Toxic cleanup was given $158 million.
• The Public Works Trust Fund was given $400,000.
• $50 million was allocated for state matching funds for federal grants for broadband.
• The transportation budget was $13.4 billion, and improvements include major highway projects ($5.4 billion), ferries ($1.3 billion) and fish and culvert removal ($1 billion). This is the first year the State can use Climate Commitment Act money that was passed in 2021, and nearly $1 billion will be used for projects that support conversion to zero-emissions transportation.
• A lot of money has been allocated to study various hydrogen projects, but the implementation funding did not pass.
• $50 million was identified for future funding for MTCA capital projects.
• The legislature decommissioned the Aviation Coordinating Commission, the group that was supposed to find a new airport, and turned it into a codified work group, specifically removing the goal of recommending one specific site for development. It appears they will start putting money in smaller airports like Paine Field and Arlington.
• HB 1085, regarding plastic pollution, was approved as modified per the WPPA’s request to allow the current standard for hard-case Styrofoam floats to continue to be used.
• The derelict vessel process was streamlined somewhat.
• Money was allocated to the Tourism and Marketing Authority, and they also provided grant writing money to the Municipal Service and Resource Center (MSRC), primarily to help rural ports look for funds.
• They passed a bill that said site readiness is now eligible for Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) funding. Now you don’t have to have money to plan and develop a site before you can receive a CERB grant.
• A bill authorizing public transit agencies in Washington State to produce, use, sell and distribute green electrolytic hydrogen and renewable hydrogen was approved.
• The bill that would phase out natural gas is dead.
• The bill that would add advanced nuclear reactor technology to the State’s energy strategy did not pass.
• The bill incentivizing gas companies to develop and require renewable energy resources also did not pass.
• The bill that provided a tax incentive for research, development, production and sales of hydrogen failed to pass.
• A bill was approved to make recreational vessels subject to the same 1,000-yard distance from orcas that are currently in place for commercial vessels.
• The Special Purpose District Governing Body vacancy bill was approved, and is effective July 1st. It requires governing bodies to advertise to get nominations from the public to fill vacant office positions.
• The Enhanced Voting Rights Act of Washington, which allows anyone to question an election whether they live in the district or not, was approved.
• The labor apprenticeship utilization bill requires projects over $2 million to achieve 15% use of apprenticeships, but it doesn’t take effect until 2024. Ms. Drennan said this could be a real problem for the Port since they don’t have the resources to monitor apprenticeship programs.
• The Paid Family Leave Task Force is spending more money than it is taking in, so some changes were made to how pay is calculated. Ms. Drennan added that they are increasing the tax rate for the program.
• The bill related to prevailing wages on public works projects is dead. A bill that would change the Small Works Roster is also dead.
• The public works threshold is now $350,000.
• The road usage charge bill is dead for now, but it will likely come back.
• The Capital Gains Tax was passed in 2021, and the first collections of taxes were due April 18th of this year.
Commissioner Harris announced that she would attend the WPPA Spring meeting next week. She said she also had a great discussion with Eric ffitch, WPPA Executive Director. As she takes over as the Port’s Executive Director, she will need to quickly go deep on the grant side, and he has offered to coach her. She said she met earlier in the day with the Edmonds Marsh Estuary Advocates. They have a really good website that outlines their objectives, how they envision the marsh, and the studies they would like to see done. She said she plans to meet with representatives from the City of Edmonds in an effort to bring the conversations together. They are planning an art contest (Paint the Marsh) to envision what the marsh could be.
Commissioner Preston asked how much money the legislature allocated to study the impacts of dam removal. Commissioner Orvis answered that the legislature earlier allocated $5 million for a study of the impacts of dam removal. They wanted an additional $5 million for a study showing the impacts on transportation, particularly the movement of grain. Commissioner Preston reported that he recently spoke with a railroad lobbyist who was in favor of dam removal because it would increase rail traffic.
Commissioner Preston reported that he attended the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County’s (EASCs) annual meeting and forecasting event. One of the speakers was a man who invented a device to transform food waste into chicken feed. Upwards of 30% of food is wasted for a lot of different reasons. The company is located in Mukilteo. He said he also attended an Edmonds City meeting last Friday where the Economic Development Commission was asked to talk about ideas on where funding opportunities (i.e., taxes or bonds) might come from to help with the City’s need for more money. One solution the Commission came up with was cutting expenses.
Commissioner Preston said he would also attend the WPPA Spring Meeting next week. Commissioner Johnston advised that he would attend, as well.
Commissioner Johnston announced that the process for appointing a new Commissioner to fill Commissioner Harris’ position will start tomorrow, with notifications in My Edmonds News, The Everett Herald and the Port’s website outlining the process for applying. The candidate must be from District 1, and a map will be attached. Applicants will be allowed two weeks to respond, and the Commission will review the applications and decide whether to proceed with or without interviews. The Commission may have a special meeting the first week of June to make a decision. The hope is that the person will be able to serve until the end of Commissioner Harris’ term, which will be December 31, 2025. At that point, they may or may not run for reelection. He said he is confident they will receive some good candidates.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:56 p.m.
Port Commission Secretary