By Mellow DeTray

Here’s what happened at Monday night’s (Sept. 12, 2022) Burien City Council Special Meeting:

Eviction Moratorium Ends With State of Emergency, by Oct. 31, 2022
The City’s eviction moratorium, the last in Washington State, will be lifted by Oct. 31, 2022 with the conclusion of Governor Inslee’s State of Emergency. Many of the public comments during Monday night’s meeting addressed the impacts of the eviction moratorium. Landlords struggle to keep their properties without rent coming in, or are choosing to keep properties empty rather than rent without the protection against non-paying tenants; and tenants worry about eviction or rising rents and seek more renter protections. The Council voted to add rental housing policies to their future agenda topics.

Opioid Crisis Litigation Relief
Starting this December, and continuing annually for 17 years, Burien could receive a portion of a $518 million dollar litigation fee from three opioid manufacturers in the state. This money, which would amount to $6,000 the first year and then $3,000 thereafter, would be used to help combat the opioid crisis. Burien’s share is smaller than that of other comparably-sized cities. More information is needed before the Council could sign on to this agreement, so the discussion was tabled until the next meeting. The deadline for all cities to approve the litigation agreement is Sept. 23. There are 37 cities that would receive a share of the total fee.

ARPA Funds Allocation Passes
Burien’s $10.8 million in economic recovery funds from the American Rescue Plan Act have been fully allocated, with:

    • $2.7 million going to enhanced public safety
    • $0.2 million spent on ARPA consultant fee
    • $0.8 million going to infrastructure upgrades
    • $1.7 million going to economic development investments
    • $2.9 million to community needs investments
    • and $2.5 million to infrastructure investments.

With tonight’s approval of the plan, the next step is to develop and implement each project. Council will review and approve each item, where applicable.

Long-Range Budget: Limited Revenue & Growing Expenditures
City financial policy requires a six-year forecast as part of every biennial budget development. The main takeaway of the forecast is that city expenses are growing with inflation, while revenue is limited. More money needs to come in from somewhere. The mayor wants to explore reaching out to the community and local businesses to see what kind of revenue increases they would be in favor of. City revenue comes mainly from Property Tax, Sales Tax, Utility Tax, and Franchise Fees. A smaller portion of income comes from B&O Tax, Parks & Rec Charges, and Building & Planning Permit Fees.

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. She has volunteered at many local establishments over the years, including the Burien Library, Burien Actors Theatre, and Hot Feet Fitness. After working for ten years at Burien Community Center, she moved on to teaching fitness classes and to work the front desk of a Burien yoga studio. For many years Mellow kept a moderately popular cooking & lifestyle blog, and she had a brief stint in political journalism during a local election. Clear and informative writing has always been a side hobby of Mellow’s and she looks forward to bringing you unbiased coverage of City Council meetings.