By Jack Mayne The Burien City Council began its semi-annual city budget discussions with a proposed biennial budget to replace the previous two-year one of $81.9 million with $53.5 million in general fund expenditures. No proposed total was apparent in documents prepared for the Council study session on Monday night (Oct. 22). The Council also spent some of its Monday study session to approve increased recycling charges and a residential and business fee system due to the international collapse of the recycling industry, largely because of refusal of China and India (amongst other Asian countries) to take discarded American trash at least for the present. New Burien budget City Manager Brian Wilson offered the first presentation of the “hold the lime” Burien 2019-2020 preliminary budget (download PDF of this year’s budget here) with anticipated final approval by Dec. 3, 2018. He said the proposal would maintain the city’s “financially sound position with healthy financial reserves” to continue “important programs and services” and to “begin to address the structural imbalance” because of “revenues not keeping pace with expenditures” and the long realization that the city will lose the White Center annexation tax credit in 2020. Wilson told Council he proposes a 3.6 percent cost of living adjustment for staff, along with increases in medical and dental insurance increases estimated at from 4.5 percent to 8 percent plus the “state’s new tax for paid family and medical leave” estimated to cost “around $20,000.” “We are identifying a structural imbalance in years 2021 through 2024 … we need to address that now,” Wilson said, apparently referring to the lost of the White Center annexation credit. “The sooner we do that, the better for our city.” ‘Unfunded needs’ Beyond the base level services, Wilson said the potential increases to services or other additional services, “those will hall have to have either corresponding identified revenue or corresponding cuts to services” to enable the activities. New Burien Finance Director Eric Christensen outlined the several weeks-long process to presenting and discussing the budget for the three new councilmembers, Mayor Jimmy Matta, Councilmembers Pedro Olguin and Krystal Marx, and the four holdovers members, Lucy Krakowiak, Austin Bell, Nancy Tosta, and Bob Edgar. Budget discussions will continue through November leading up to the Dec. 3 passage. Wilson said his city manager budget has “unfunded needs” that include succession planning for his replacement as he nears retirement age, finding financing for “city-wide staff training, process improvement” and better document management. Another “unfunded need” is a “funding mechanism for long-term capital projects.” He has also transferred the cost and oversight of the city communications officer and an intern to the staff of administrative services manager Cathy Schrock, who most recently served as the civilian operations manager and public communications manager for Federal Way. Wilson told the Council that Schrock will also oversee city-wide staff training and improving city processes. Recycling rate ‘adjustment’ Public Works Director Maiya Andrews told the Council the city has negotiated an increase with Recology CleanScapes regarding increased costs related to global recycling policy changes. If the Council approves, there will be a rate adjustment of $1.35/month for residential customers and $2.25/cubic yard for commercial and multi-family customers. The rate adjustment will take effect on Nov. 15. The Council at the study session approved the contract unanimously. Andrews said the adjustment is in addition to the annual rate adjustment in the existing contract for increases in living costs and garbage disposal costs and the annual increase goes in effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Recology is also providing an enhanced education program at their Burien store aimed at producing “a cleaner recycling stream of materials that are more marketable globally.” There will also be an incentive program to reward clean recyclers citywide. In addition, Recology will examine all customers recycling contents twice a year with an eye on training residents about what goes in which container and why this is important. Customers can win a year of free service if their recycling efforts meet standards, Andrews said. “Selected customers will have an opportunity to enter a drawing to win one year of free garbage service within two separate groups that include residential customers and commercial/multi-family customers,” Andrews told the Council. ‘LEAD’ approved In other business, the Council also approved a request to direct city staff to tell King County of Burien’s desire to participate in the Law Enforcement Arrest Diversion (LEAD) and Community Court programs. Staff said that under the Burien LEAD program, the Burien Police Department will be the “gatekeeping” agency responsible for both arrest diversions and social contact referrals to LEAD. However, CC will be available to anyone seeking its services, not simply those charged with an eligible misdemeanor. Councilmembers Bob Edgar, Krystal Marx and Nancy Tosta have registered for the National League of Cities Annual Business Meeting, Nov. 10, in Los Angeles. Marx was elected the city’s single voting delegate.]]>

Jack Mayne

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.