[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]
Dear Council Members,
Your inaction on economic development is crippling Burien financially. The Burien City Council routinely balances its budget through service cuts. Itâ€™s time for the Community to evaluate Your fiscal commitment to Burien.
Changing the course of Burien is straightforward: fund Our Biennial Community needs. Funding is accomplished by increasing revenue through economic development. Youâ€™re shortchanging Burien when You bicker over personal agenda topics instead of focusing on Burien needs.
Burienâ€™s two Council factions wasted 36+ meetings on irrelevant projects in the last 4 years. The â€œLaw and Orderâ€ faction squandered 11 meetings on C.A.R.E.S. instead expanding retail activities to fund more Police. The â€œSocial Justiceâ€ faction spent 25 meetings on Protestors, Homeless Issues, etc. with no funding sources.
Council Member Wagner knows 53% of Burien Residents (PDF: Wagner) shop elsewhere. What has she done to address issues causing Burienites to shop elsewhere? It appears she is like the rest of You in her lack of curiosity as to why the majority of Residents wonâ€™t regularly shop in Burien. Businesses are denied ~$500 million dollars annually in sales due to preventable causes. Adding ~$500 million in new business revenue could have easily added more Police protection.
Returning Burien Police presence to 2010 levels requires an extra $3.2 million dollars annually. This means increasing retail sales by $350 million annually. Addressing the reasons shoppers shun Burien is important in turning this City around. Additionally, increasing economic activity will power job creation, soak-up excess labor, increase wages and improve the quality of life in Burien.
The Councilâ€™s failure to collaboratively raise money for Biennial Community projects is typical of Your commitment to Burien.
The City Staff can help guide You in making Burien a safe and prosperous City. There is a wealth of experience in the various departments. Yet, the Council has little interest as to what the City Staff can do to help the Council meet Community needs.
I believe Burien Residents should evaluate Your fiscal accomplishments. Cutting services and offering flim-flam excuses for inaction are a way of avoiding doing Your job. One of the easiest ways to accomplish things is to ground Your message in what Residents want. 50K Residents are waiting to get behind a Council that meets Our needs. With that kind of backing, You will move mountains. Doing less, gives us less.
After 4 years, I believe each of You have failed to meet Burienâ€™s fiscal needs. Residents would be better served by Council Members who take Our Public Safety needs seriously.
Burien as an I.S.O. 9001 Quality City
Our new Council will have an opportunity to install a Quality Assurance (QA) system. A QA system creates structure for the Council and its successors to build upon. Gone will be the days of Council anarchy. In its place will be a structure to create service expectations Residents and Business owners can count on.
This new Council can enhance Burien by collaborating with City Staff. I propose the following City Departments be used as a resource:
- City Manager
- City Attorney
- Public Works
1. The City Manager is the liaison between the City Council and City Staff. His job description (RCW 35A.13.080 Sections 4 & 5) requires him to promulgate and enforce Ordinances to create Public Safety and economic activity to support a financially healthy Burien. He and the City Staff have the expertise needed to guide You in funding Our Community needs.Â Using City Staff as a resource requires a change in Council behavior. Specifically, working on non-requested community items (C.A.R.E.S., Sanctuary City, Homeless Issues, etc) are diversions from the legitimate work of the Council that needs to be stopped. Ending these distractions requires a new Council Leadership able to focus the Council.
2. The City Attorney oversees Code Enforcement. Code Enforcement is weak in Burien. Much of the weakness is attributable to incomplete or non-existent Ordinances proscribing activities harming Residents, Businesses and the City coffers.Â I want the City Attorney to semi-annually report weaknesses within the Burien Municipal Code draining City coffers. A few weakness are: unregulated landlords renting to gangs and allowing their properties to become blights, and Banks abandoning foreclosures damaging neighborhoods. These two issues diminish City revenues and increase City costs. I have confidence the City Attorney can find other costly omissions in the Burien Municipal Code.
3. Public Works can trim the Structural Deficit through proactive use of new revenue. A sound infrastructure will safely convey people and goods. This is important in encouraging growth, prosperity and safety within Burien.
4. The Finance department can assist in determining the most cost effective mix of retail and lodging development yielding money to fund Our Biennial Community needs. A City that meets its Citizenâ€™s needs will attract newcomers to Burien that bring in even more revenue.
5. The Planning department can assist in short and long term planning for Burien. One of the quickest ways to encourage more revenue is to redevelop the North Highline Area to connect with the southward expansion from MLK and Delridge Way. The North Highline was annexed to increase revenue. Eight years after annexation, no substantive signs of redevelopment can be seen. Burien is going to lose 700K annually in State Sales Tax Credit from the annexation in two years. Itâ€™s time to redevelop the North Highline to make it pay its way.
Changing the Paradigm
One of the easier ways to improve Burien is to change the interactions between the Council and the City Staff. The current interaction is non-productive when City Staff spends thousands of man-hours on projects the Council has no intention of following through on.
Focusing the Council on follow through is an important component of Leadership. We need Council Leaders committed to using City resources wisely to fund Residentsâ€™ and Businessâ€™ needs.
I believe each Council Member is responsible for the crime-wave in Burien. You elected Leaders who ignored this problem. The only way to change the Burien Council Leadership is to replace You with somebody committed to a safe and prosperous Burien.
â€“ Dick West
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