15 Sep Commission Meeting Minutes 8/31/20
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MEETING MINUTES
(Via Zoom) August 31, 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 in attendance 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 AUGUST 10, 2020 MEETING MINUTES
C. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,635.442.35
COMMISSIONER PRESTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Susan Paine, Edmonds City Council, announced that the City Council will conduct a public hearing on proposed zoning changes at Haines Wharf. Because there is similar zoning in the Port area, she felt the Port Commission and staff might be interested in participating.
Commissioner Faires asked what zoning changes are being contemplated that might end up applying to the Port at some point in the future. Council Member Paine said the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment would change the land use designation for the property from Mixed-Use Commercial to Open Space, which will enhance the City’s ability to obtain grants to remove the existing pilings. Commissioner Faires commented that the proposed change would preclude any activity that is commercial in nature.
Denise Miller, Edmonds, commented that the owner of the Haines Wharf property previously voiced objection to the proposed rezone because he wants to restore the property to its previous state. Her understanding was that he was planning a court action to prevent the zoning change. Council Member Paine responded that, when the proposal was presented to the City Council last week, there hadn’t been any substantial communication with the owner. She explained that someone expressed an interest in a human-powered boat rental business in this location, but Burlington Northern Santa Fe isn’t willing to allow a crossing access.
Dean Nichols, Woodway, said he was present to discuss the Port’s future plans for the public walkway along the waterfront. With the good weather, the walkway has been busier than ever. The Port is a public facility, and people pay taxes to support it. The boardwalk is a wonderful public amenity, but it is in need of improvement. He encouraged the Commission to set some funds aside in the 2021 budget for this purpose. He said he was part of the Public Access Committee and would like to see some of the projects identified in the plan move forward this year.
Mr. McChesney reported that the Port had identified a number of smaller improvements to make in 2020, but they were stalled by the pandemic. The Port recently completed a conditions survey on the wooden portion of the boardwalk. While the structure is sound, it has a limited useful life. The survey took measure of the various options for the wear surface. The wood is very utilitarian and functional, but it doesn’t look as good as they would like. There haven’t been any injuries or complaints, but the Port staff and Commission agree it is time to make some improvements. The intent is to reenergize the Public Access Committee, and he hopes Mr. Nichols will join them. The Committee and Commission needs to consider how far they want to go. For example, he is not sure that rebuilding the wooden portion of the boardwalk would be the end. Much like the recent project at Harbor Square Building 3, once you start addressing issues you can see, other problems tend to arise. For example, in order to accommodate the preferred wear surface, major work to the understructure might be needed. He summarized that the next task for the Public Access Committee is to consider the alternatives, what they want it to look like, how long will it take, and how much the Port is willing to spend to accomplish it.
Commissioner Orvis recalled that the conditions survey discovered that the pilings and seawall could be a problem. Mr. McChesney responded that there is still some remaining useful life as far as their load bearing capability for the existing wooden surface. However, any major modification to the existing surface, handrail, lighting, etc. will require some serious engineering.
Commissioner Faires said his understanding of the conditions survey was that the present type of surface, without enhancements, would be supported by the type of understructure that currently exists. If they change the nature of the walkway, the existing understructure might not be sufficient to handle the additional weight. The question that must be decided is if the enhanced surface and railing are worth paying several million dollars for a completely redesigned structure to support it.
Commissioner Harris concurred with Mr. McChesney that the pandemic stalled the projects that were intended for 2020, which is disappointing.
Mr. Nichols said his request is that the Commission identify some money in the budget to do something in 2021, as public access is a very high priority. Commissioner Orvis said the Finance Committee recently met and identified approximately $200,000 for this purpose. Mr. Nichols agreed that is a good start. Commissioner Faires added that the Commission’s intent is to allocate $170,000, which is the amount they were paying each year on the mortgage at Harbor Square, for public amenities. The goal is to average $170,000 yearly for the next five years, recognizing that it is also possible to front load the funding to earlier years.
Commissioner Orvis recalled that the condition survey indicated a remaining 10-year life expectancy for the wooden portion of the boardwalk. Mr. McChesney said the existing timber piles have about 10 years of remaining life. This must be factored into the economic equation. If they are going to rebuild that entire portion, it might take five years to do the necessary engineering and permitting. However, they don’t know the condition of the step bulkhead, which might also need to be addressed and could result in significant cost. Commissioner Orvis said his understanding was that, after the Harbor Square Building 3 Project was completed, they would move forward with further study and decisions related to the boardwalk.
Commissioner Johnston reported that he and Commissioner Harris would meet with staff on September 16th to begin discussions about what needs to be done with the boardwalk. Commissioner Faires said the intent is that the Commission would make a fundamental decision relative to the future of the walkway this fall. They need to decide whether that involves rebuilding the present walkway to the extent necessary using the existing design, or if they will go to a heavier structure that supports a cement walkway and enhanced railing.
Commissioner Orvis asked if it is still possible to do some of the smaller projects that were identified in 2020. Mr. McChesney reported that staff has already completed framing work for the awning at the public plaza. However, they may not be able to reconfigure the planters and change the landscape detail this year. Commissioner Orvis asked that they work to address the trash area near Arnies Restaurant in 2020.
HARBOR SQUARE BUILDING 3 EDGE COPING CONTRACT #2020-348 – ACCEPT AS COMPLETE
Mr. McChesney reviewed that the Commission directed staff to contract with Scholten Roofing on July 27th after the contractor for the Harbor Square Building 3 Project (AM Exteriors) formally released the scope of work via an approved change order. The purpose was to preserve the roof warranty and save costs. Work started on August 3rd and was completed on August 7th, and the Port still has retainage in the amount of $1,997.50, which will be held until the state agencies have released the formal letters to the Port. He recommended the Commission accept the contract as complete.
COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION ACCEPT THE CONTRACT 2020-348 WITH SCHOLTEN ROOFING, INC. IN THE AMOUNT OF $39,950 PLUS TAX FOR THE HARBOR SQUARE BUILDING 3 EDGE COPING AS COMPLETE. COMMISSIONER HARRIS SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
RESOLUTION 20-05 – AUTHORIZING THE USE OF DIGITAL AND ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES FOR THE CONDUCT OF BUSINESS AT THE PORT OF EDMONDS
Ms. Drennan explained that social-distancing requirements of COVID-19 have created some challenges in processing timely documentation with signatures that meet legal requirements. DocuSign, an electronic and digital signature service, will decrease delays and provide certified and authenticated electronic signatures. She referred to Resolution 20-05 (attached to the Staff Report), which meets the requirements spelled out in Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 19.360.020(5).
Ms. Drennan summarized that staff would like to accept documents with electronic signatures for Moorage and Dry Storage Agreements, Wait List Agreements, and Commission documents. It is likely that electronic signatures may be used in other areas, as well. She recommended the Commission approve Resolution 20-05 as presented.
Commissioner Faires asked if the RCW specifically mentions DocuSign. Ms. Drennan answered no, but it does mention a third-party electronic service, which DocuSign is. Commissioner Preston suggested that DocuSign should not be mentioned in the resolution by name because the Port might change as additional technology comes out.
COMMISSIONER PRESTON MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION APPROVE RESOLUTION 20-05, AUTHORIZING THE USE OF ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES FOR THE CONDUCT OF BUSINESS AT THE PORT OF EDMONDS. COMMISSIONER HARRIS SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Commissioner Faires asked if Commissioners would still have the ability to sign documents in person or if only the DocuSign process would be used. Ms. Drennan answered that staff would prefer DocuSign so that everyone is signing on the same document.
APPROVAL OF PURCHASE OF SULLAIR PORTABLE AIR COMPRESSOR
Mr. McChesney explained that the Port has used the existing mobile air compressor for the last 28 years, and parts for the aged unit are now obsolete. The compressor is critical for landscape irrigation use and construction. Staff solicited quotes from three vendors, and Star Rentals was the lowest. Additionally, Star Rentals is equipped to do service on the unit in the future if needed and is a known vendor to the Port. The old unit will be auctioned.
Mr. McChesney advised that the purchase was included in the Capital Budget for 2020, and the total cost of the purchase will be $19,667 plus sales tax of $2,045.37 for a total cost of $21,712.37. He recommended the Commission authorize the Executive Director to disperse payment to Star Rentals for the quoted new mobile air compressor.
COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON MOVED THAT THE COMMISSION APPROVE THE PURCHASE OF A NEW SULLAIR MOBILE AIR COMPRESSOR FROM STAR RENTALS. COMMISSIONER PRESTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
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.
Commissioner Preston said he recently received an email with pictures of the new Port signage advising visitors and customers of the pandemic guidelines. Mr. McChesney said the Port is not an enforcement agency or a public health district, but they do get feedback from customers and the public. By and large, most people are aware of the situation and are trying to follow the guidelines, but there are still problems. Signage is about all the Port can do to address the problem.
2020 BUDGET – BUDGET BASELINE CONDITIONS
Ms. Drennan reviewed that the Commission approves the budget on an annual basis. The budget is a plan that identifies resources for operational and capital projects and communicates the sources of revenue and costs of services. It also allows the Commission and staff to review and prioritize repairs, improvements and other projects. The actual results may differ from the budget due to changed facilities or equipment conditions, changed priorities, and changed economic environment. Facilities or equipment may break unexpectedly and funds may need to be relocated to pay for the fixes.
Ms. Drennan further reviewed that the Port implemented the cash flow schedule in 2012 as a method of determining moorage and dry storage rates and planning for future large capital expenditures such as replacing major marina structures. The Cash Flow Model estimates future cash and investments based on projected revenues and expenses and known major capital improvements, and 2020 is the 9th year of the Cash Flow Model.
Ms. Drennan recalled that, at the their April 8, 2013 meeting, the Commission recommended a yearly moorage and dry storage rate increase of Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1%. On August 20th, the Finance Committee reaffirmed that recommendation. CPI for the year ending June 30, 2020 is 0.9%, which calculates to a moorage and dry storage rate increase of 1.9%. The CPI number is also used for other Port revenue increases and wage increases. Currently, the Port uses the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers, All Items in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Area. The CPI report, as well as the proposed moorage and dry storage rates, was attached to the Staff Report.
Mr. Baker reported that data for Washington State indicates that boat sales continue to increase month-over-month. Combined with the waitlist increase, he feels comfortable that boating will continue to be popular. Also, based on an email that was sent to all marina managers, asking what they were planning by way of increases, it appears that most marinas are considering at least a modest increase of between 2% and 5%. It appears that the proposed 1.9% increase is in line with what other marinas are doing and a good solution for the upcoming year.
From a collection standpoint, Ms. Drennan reported that for the first time in a long time, there was a reduced number of late fees, and she isn’t sure what to attribute the decrease to. Unless she hears otherwise, for budget purposes. she will use 1.9% to prepare the draft 2021 Budget.
Commissioner Preston noted that CPI as of February was 2.5%. Ms. Drennan said it is based on a one-year timeframe, and the Port has consistently used the June number since 2000. She said the CPI is also used for rental property increases, although they don’t necessarily use the June number since it is based on the individual lease agreements.
Commissioner Orvis noted that a change was made to the Cash Flow Model. Ms. Drennan explained that, for the interest rate on investment, they are using the average one-year T Bill over the last 10 years. Commissioner Orvis said the change was made after talking to the Port’s Bond Advisor. Rather than using their own work, they will use an outside source as a comparison. Commissioner Faires added that the Finance Committee had an extended discussion about that and the moorage rates, and they are recommending the moorage rates as presented by staff.
2020 BUDGET – PROPERTY TAX LEVY
Ms. Drennan advised that this item is on the agenda so the Commissioners can have a policy discussion about property taxes. She referred to the Staff Report, specifically noting the following:
• Page 3. The Tax Levy History shows the Port’s taxable assessed value, actual tax levy amount and actual tax levy rate (millage rate) for the past 30 years. The Port District’s assessed value is $6,904,197,278, and a $400,000 tax assessment would create a millage rate of $.058 per thousand. The maximum levy available amount for 2020 was $583,644, and the highest millage rate was $.311 in 1991. The 2021 property tax valuation is based on the Snohomish County Assessor’s Office Preliminary Value that was issued in August.
• Page 4. Figure 1 shows the Edmonds Port District Assessed Value from 1990 to 2021. Figure 2 shows the Port of Edmonds Tax Levy Amount from 1990 to 2021, and Figure 3 shows the Port of Edmonds Tax Levy Rate from 1990 to 2021.
• Page 5. The table shows the proposed Programs Supported by Property Taxes in 2021. It includes the Launcher Subsidy ($50,000), Public Access ($190,000), Commissioners ($150,000) and Public Records Requests Tools and Training ($10,000). She noted that based on discussions with the Finance Committee, the budget for Public Records Requests Tools and Training was reduced from $30,000 to $10,000, and the additional $20,000 was moved to the Public Access Budget.
• Page 6. The table shows Property Taxes Compared to CPI Increases and 1% Increases from 2012 to 2021.
• Page 7. The table shows the Value of Property Taxes in 2008 Dollars.
• Page 8. The table shows Port District Resident Sample Property Taxes, which is a sample of what a tax bill may look like for Port District residents. The range of home values was adjusted to be closer to reality.
2020 BUDGET – ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM EXPENSE BUDGET
Ms. Drennan referred to the proposed Economic Development and Tourism Expense Budget, which was reviewed and recommended by the Marketing Committee (Mr. McChesney, Ms. Williams and Mr. Baker). She reviewed that there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for economic development and tourism activity in 2020 due to the pandemic closures. She noted that, in years past, the Port has sponsored a holiday event in conjunction with the Christmas Ship, which has been cancelled for 2020. The intent is to create a different holiday event this year, providing more lights, etc. A little more money was added to the budget for this purpose.
Commissioner Harris asked about the “Canva Pro,” which is budgeted for $200. Mr. Baker said it is an online software the Port is already using. Both he and Ms. Williams use it independently now, and it allows them to collaborate and build brand kits, color schemes, fonts, etc. The annual fee is $200.
Commissioner Harris asked if “Signage for the Waterfront” is separate from signage under “Public Access Plan.” Mr. McChesney said interpretive signs on the waterfront was one of the projects from the Public Access Plan that was identified for 2020. Because of the pandemic, staff was unable to get to this project. The signs were intended to be installed on the railing to inform the public of what they might be seeing and provide some historical perspective.
Commissioner Johnston asked if the Port has determined the design and content of the interpretive signs. Mr. McChesney said they haven’t gotten that far. At this time, it is in the budget as a placeholder, as staff is working to get caught up on the work that has been held up by the pandemic. He said the intent is to develop a design concept and then do the signs incrementally over the next few years.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney reported that the Environmental Committee met on August 19th. The basic idea was to formalize the Integrated Pest Management Program that Commissioner Harris has been working hard on and then incorporate it into the Port’s Environmental Policy.
Mr. McChesney also reported that the Finance Committee met on August 20th to talk about the budget issues that were discussed previously in the meeting. The Committee also talked about spending limits for the Executive Director.
Mr. McChesney said staff has been working with rental property tenants, and he is happy to report that they are in good shape with tenants who participated in the rent deferral program.
Mr. McChesney announced that staff would shift to the fall maintenance program soon. He advised that staff performed landscaping working at Harbor Square Building 3, and it looks very nice.
Mr. McChesney said another maintenance item that staff is focusing on now is the Mid Marina Breakwater. A condition survey was done about a year ago by PND Engineers, and Norton Corrosion did some testing to take measure of the remaining useful life of the steel batter piles. They have been informed that repairing the cathodic protection is a key portion of preserving the steel, and staff will bring a proposal to the Commission soon. They will also want to engage the Commission in a more comprehensive discussion of the Mid Marina Breakwater. Staff is encouraged that, if they properly maintain the breakwater, its remaining useful life is 25+ years. There is nothing facing imminent failure, but is important to stay on top of maintenance. Staff is currently working to prepare a maintenance plan.
Mr. McChesney announced that the Public Access Committee and Communications Committee will meet on September 16th.
Commissioner Faires asked if staff has an estimate for cost and schedule for the cathodic protection repair of the Mid Marina Breakwater. Mr. McChesney responded that he anticipates up to about $35,000. He explained that if the cathodic protection fails or is in disrepair, corrosion will continue to get worse and even more aggressive.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Faires reported that he attended a virtual meeting of the Edmonds Economic Development Commission on August 18th, where the discussion focused on how to support and provide information to the City Council relative to how to support businesses in Edmonds during the pandemic. A fairly detailed report was presented that dealt with feedback from businesses regarding the Main Street closure. The restaurant owners support the change because it allows them to put tables in the street to accommodate more customers. However, some retail business owners indicated they didn’t support it. A letter to the City Council is being prepared by the President and Vice President of the Commission, outlining the Commission’s advice for how to best address the economic vitality of Edmonds during the continued pandemic.
Commissioner Faires said he attended the Finance Committee on August 20th.
Commissioner Preston said he continues to attend the virtual Downtown Edmonds Merchant Association (DEMA) and Washington Public Port Association (WPPA) meetings. Consistent with Commissioner Faires’ report, most of the members of DEMA are not super excited about the closure of Main Street. It brings people to Edmonds to wander around, but not so much to shop. They commented that things are great with the restaurants pushing out into the parking areas now, but this will end when the weather changes. The feeling at the last meeting wasn’t upbeat, and it is likely that additional businesses will end up closing within the next year.
Commissioner Preston said he plans to participate in the WPPA’s virtual Environmental Seminar. Commissioner Johnston said he would participate, too.
Commissioner Johnston reported that he and Commissioner Harris attended the Environmental Committee Meeting, where they put the finishing touches on their ideas for a draft Integrated Pest Management Plan. He said he plans to have a final draft available for the committee’s review by the end of this week before it is passed on to the Commission.
Commissioner Johnston said he has also participated in the virtual WPPA roundtables. The last one focused on the Department of Ecology. The new director pledged her assistance and support to public ports, which is a great sign. The overwhelming takeaway is that Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA) funding is fairly strong and will be constant. This is good news for site remediation at public ports.
Commissioner Preston asked Council Member Paine to share the City Council’s thoughts on the restaurants extending their outdoor seating into the parking areas. Council Member Paine said the City Council hasn’t had a lot of opportunity to discuss the issue yet. They are interested in hearing feedback from the administration about how it is going and what is planned next. They have extended the date to early October for Main Street to be used this way.
Commissioner Preston said one person at the DEMA meeting asked if restaurant owners are paying for the parking spaces that are now being used for restaurant tables & employee parking. It was noted that the closure of Main Street has resulted in the loss of public parking. Council Member Paine said the City is not currently charging for parking. She said she has heard from people who have been pleased they could find a place to park and enjoy the restaurants in the downtown.
Commissioner Faires said an issue brought up at the Economic Development Commission meeting was the fact that the off-Main retail vendors generally haven’t been supportive and haven’t done a lot to market their businesses. The City has tried, but pretty much failed, in the small effort of getting these vendors to put something on the sidewalk to attract people passing by.
Commissioner Orvis asked how the Port is doing with customers who are unhappy with the changes that were implemented in 2020 at Dry Storage. Mr. McChesney said that Mr. Baker has reached out to the customers on a number of occasions, but they still aren’t satisfied. Mr. Baker said he has met in person with them, as well. He prefaces each of the conversations as something the Port will take under advisement, and informs them that the 1st quarter of 2021 would be the time when adjustments might be made. While he has promised to continue to listen, he has emphasized that changes would not happen at this point in the season. He said the discussions have been framed well, and the customers have been receptive. They might not like all of the answers, but the Port has done a good job of updating them, and the website has been maintained throughout the pandemic with the new policies. At the end of the season, staff will review the policy and look for areas to improve and change. He reported that new customers are very pleased with the service, which shows the crew has done a good job of setting the expectations.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m.
David Preston, Port Commission Secretary