Notes From Monday Night’s City Council Meeting

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by Gina Bourdage

Here are notes from Monday night’s (May 11th) Burien City Council meeting (PDF agenda here, streaming video link here):

An alley behind St. Vincent de Paul is up to homeowners to maintain and one resident expressed concern over lack of lighting provided by the city.  Peter Arends voiced his concern with past muggings, vandalism and theft that occurs in the alley due to its dark secluded atmosphere.

Scott Kimmer,
Burien Chief of Police, reported that Burien had a drop in overall crime by 12% over last year. Nationally there has been a decrease across the board, however the average for other communities is around 2-3%.

“The goal is to reduce crime and fear of crime,” said Kimmer. “We want residents to feel comfortable in their community.”

Violent crimes against people rank in the middle and property crimes are second to lowest in the area in comparison. Some crimes that are seeing a significant downturn are:

  • Burglary down -6%
  • Robbery down -14%
  • Theft down -11%
  • Vehicle theft down -36%

Traffic safety is a priority for the city of Burien, and with heightened patrols and red light cameras recently installed along First Ave South a reduction of violations is expected to appear in future reports.

Misdemeanor crimes, on the other hand, are up +14%, as are general misdemeanor crimes like vandalism, alcohol-related issues, property damage, family disturbances, trespassing, minor assaults, etc. Chief Kimmer equates the increase in this area to current state of economy and increased stress at home.

Very notably, complaints against officers are down to three total formal complaints for 9,383 dispatched calls for service.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ll be posting a more in-depth story on Burien crime statistics very soon, so check back here shortly!]

City manager Mike Martin has signed an amended contract for employment due to his drunk driving charge that was issued from May 6th. There is no room for additional occurrences, and a monitoring device will be installed on the ignition of Mr. Martin’s vehicle.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ll be posting a story on this issue very soon, which will include the amended contract in its entirety – so check back here shortly!]

A complete report of the 2009-2010 budget is available on the city of Burien’s website, however the blog was provided a breakdown of what the cuts mean and how residents should understand the changes that are currently being discussed at city council meetings:

We have been keenly aware of the financial impacts of the economic downturn on the Puget Sound Region and observant of its impact on Burien. Our goal has been to avoid the need for deep cuts that would cause a significant effect. Last fall we budgeted for the economic downturn, however, the recession we thought would end by the third quarter 2009, looks like it may last well into 2010. While we were prepared for lower revenues through mid-2009 we did not anticipate these conditions lasting into 2010. Burien’s sales tax is down more than 9% year-to-date (YTD), our real estate excise tax is down 78% YTD and local unemployment has doubled in the last year. Add to the problem, an increase in salary and benefit costs in our contract for police services w/King County and litigation legal expenses.

Council has reviewed but not taken action on a 3-prong solution to the projected deficit in the current biennial (2-year) budget. No new taxes are proposed but instead staff has recommended reducing expense budgets, re-directing revenue from transportation capital projects to general fund operations and using discretionary fund balance (prior years’ cumulative savings) to close the gap.

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