By Jack Mayne
In another lengthy Burien City Council meeting, the five members who attended heard of the anger of a sewer district over fees paid to the city as well as for their own operations, heard ongoing concerns over a building project at Emerald Pointe and that Highline Hospital is seeking endorsement of expanded services for elderly with potential heart surgery needs.
Only four Councilmembers attended Monday night’s meeting in person, with Councilmember Nancy Tosta on a telephone hookup. Mayor Jimmy Matta and Councilmember Pedro Olguin were out of town and excused. Deputy Mayor Austin Bell chaired the four hour session.
Westmark, Emerald Pointe
Community Development Director Susan McLain and City Attorney Lisa Marshal gave Council an update on the 9.6 acre Westmark/Emerald Pointe Project which has been an area of concern from the days before Burien was incorporated as a city, and is located in the vicinity of Seahurst Park. Until Oct. 11, the clearing of numerous trees was under a city permit but that permit expired and the city ordered work to stop except for work to preserve the site during the rainy season (read our previous coverage here).
Now, McLain said, the Emerald Pointe project has appealed the stop work order and denial of an extension of the work permit. The city’s main concern is public safety and city staff is regularly on the site monitoring work and general conditions.
Sewer tax dispute
Susan Genzale (pictured, right), a commissioner on the board of the Southwest Suburban Sewer District, said she was “deeply concerned with the city manager’s poor communication and overall refusal to communicate and work with the water and sewer district.” She referred to the city administration’s proposal for a 6 percent fee or utility tax, which the sewer district opposes. The district has its own fee of 6 percent.
Genzale said Wilson has “rejected the district’s offer of 6 percent and refuses to negotiate with the districts unless he can impose a utility tax with no ceiling.”
Wilson said he will discuss the potential changes and does not “refuse” to negotiate, but the talks have to make sense to the residents who pay the taxes.
In a letter sent recently to Southwest Suburban, Wilson wrote “Burien is recognized for the delivery of quality, efficient, and effective services at a cost lower than similar sized municipal governments. As has been discussed publicly over the last year, it is important for the city to ensure its long term sustainability and the provision of essential services.” He noted recent “citizen requests for additional police and city services. This is evidenced by our 10-year financial plan.”
Hospital seeks backing
Russell J. Woolley (pictured, left), chief operating officer of Highline Medical Center, asked the Council to support the 60-year old hospital in its quest to get state regulations changed to allow it to provide elective “PCI” which he said means Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, a procedure that uses a catheter to place a stent “to open up blood vessels in the heart that have been narrowed by plaque buildup.”
The PCI emergency procedure is used “every day” but the hospital wants to be able to do it on an lower cost and risk basis as an elective, which Washington state regulators do not allow Highline to perform, said Woolley. He noted the numbers of older and less affluent residents are moving into the Burien area, making such procedures more needed in South King County rather than getting to and then into a downtown hospital.