By Jack Mayne

The Burien City Council on Monday night (Nov. 18) began its year-end sprint to finish all business before the end of 2019, when new Councilmembers join the fray.

Because of the approval of Tim Eyman’s initiative to return car tab costs to $30 per vehicle, Burien and other cities are cutting some costs. It will cause a $400,000 reduction to the city’s Pavement Management Program.

Under legal scrutiny
King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan say they will try to stop the voter-approved initiative because they believe it is unconstitutional and would be detrimental to the region’s mass transit systems and its economic growth.

Streets Blog USA, a national blog, said the initiative “could ultimately cost $175 million in state transportation funding this fiscal year and $302 million the following year plus an additional $58 million local governments expect to receive.” The blog suggested “state and local governments could see $4 billion in lost revenue over the next six years.”

Burien Finance Director Eric Christensen (pictured, right) said, in the short term, “it does decrease the pavement management program by almost 50 percent, $850,000 to $450,000,” and “we’ll be postponing work.”

Burien tax
The Council heard a single person during public comment period, Sylvester Road resident Anne Phillips. She asked the Council to consider supporting a clean air agency to add to “the momentum to pass a regional standards.”

The Council was given a petition asking for more availability of language translation and the increased availability of more language translation headsets which were in short supply at a recent Council meeting.

Local hikes small
The end of the year approaches and the Council usually increases taxes, but this Council stayed with small hikes.

Council voted to increase the property tax levy by 1 percent in dollars collect, as allowed by state law. The city staff said a homeowner with an estimated median home value of $421,500 will pay around $7.50 more in 2020.

Council also approved an increase in the commercial parking tax effective Jan 1, 2020 and every year thereafter to adjust for inflation. The rate of $3 in 2019 will increase to $3.07 in 2020. The vote was four in favor, two abstentions and one member not attending the meeting.

Outgoing Councilmember Lucy Krakowiak abstained because she wanted more information that wasn’t available at the time of the vote, and retiring Councilmember Bob Edgar joined her in abstention. Four of the remaining five members voted for the increase. Councilmember Pedro Olguin did not attend the meeting because of work requirements.

The Council also unanimously voted to increase service charges in the surface water management fund by 2.3 percent to adjust for inflation.

Christensen asked Council’s approval to move $270,000 to new drug enforcement fund, a change suggested by the state auditor’s office.