The following letter to Ferndale City Councilmembers is provided courtesy of Ferndale City Administrator Jori Burnett. It provides summaries, and background in some cases, of the items on the meeting agenda for the regular City Council meeting scheduled for 6pm, Monday, April 15th.
Your agenda for Monday night is as follows:
Item B: Consent Agenda. – Approval of Council minutes, authorization of payroll.
Contract: Star Park Picnic Shelter – the Public Works Committee has recommended that the Council approve a contract with Gray & Osborne for the design of a ~1,000 square foot picnic shelter at Star Park. The contract does not include construction costs, which would be bid separately, following the design work which is scheduled to be completed by mid-September. The actual construction is expected to take place in 2019. The total estimated cost of the proposed contract is $50,645, and would be paid through funds allocated to this project in the 2019 budget, as well as Park Impact Fees.
Resolution: Setting public hearing for Kope Road Vacation Request – The City of Ferndale has received a request from the Lummi Nation to vacate Kope Road west of Rural Road. Pursuant to Ferndale Municipal Code 12.37 and consistent with Washington State law, the City Council is required to schedule a public hearing upon receipt of such an application. The item before the City Council on April 15th does not, and cannot, include an analysis of the proposed vacation, or a recommendation from City Staff. The hearing, which would be scheduled for May 20th, would include such analysis and recommendations.
Ordinance: Amending NWPTF (Northwest Poverty Task Force) Membership – The City received a large number of qualified applicants for the NWPTF and the Council is requested to amend Chapter 2.35.020 to increase the task force membership from seven to ten members. Please note that the City Council will be tasked with the actual appointment of individuals to the task force as Item F of Monday’s agenda.
Resolution: Bank Account Signatory – the City Council is asked to approve a resolution identifying City Administrator Jori Burnett as having signature authority for the City’s bank account(s), replacing former administrator Greg Young.
Item C: Private Developments Update. Assistant Planner Jesse Ashbaugh will provide an update on private development in Ferndale.
Item D: Catalyst Program Ordinance (Public Hearing) – Following an open record public hearing, the City Council will be asked to establish a new chapter in the Ferndale Municipal Code, creating a “catalyst” program to promote the redevelopment of Downtown Ferndale. As proposed, up to three developments meeting various minimum size and intensity criteria would be eligible for a waiver of City fees. While these private developments are unknown at this time, the City would require that any projects eligible for the incentive would have a minimum of three stories, that the projects must be “mixed use” – at least fifteen residential units, and at least 5,000 square feet of commercial space, would meet compliance with Downtown design standards, would place all residential parking within the footprint of the building or behind the building, and would respond to several additional goals, based on the City’s Comprehensive Plan and standards.
The program is intended to provide a shot in the arm for the revitalization of Ferndale’s downtown. As discussed in the staff report, the City has long-anticipated and relied on development of this type within the core, but such development has not materialized due to a variety of factors.
Item E: North Whatcom Poverty Task Force (appointments) – The City received a significant number of applicants for the North Whatcom Poverty Task Force, allowing Mayor Mutchler and Councilmember Kate Hansen to select from an enviable pool of candidates, with a range of backgrounds and perspectives. The list of candidates reflects the Finance Committee’s discussion on this subject.
Item F: Ordinance: Creating New Fund for Complete Streets Program – As the Council is aware, the City in partnership with Futurewise, has been awarded $300,000 as part of the Complete Streets program. These funds must be placed in a dedicated fund that will be used to pay for or supplement qualifying projects. The ordinance would establish such a fund.
Items G: Discussion: Council Salary – Mayor Mutchler has requested that the council discuss council salaries. The mayor has noted that the last major change to council salaries, other than to correct for inflation, occurred in 2006, and while there is never an ideal time to discuss salaries, the longer a discussion is delayed the more significant possible changes may appear – thus prolonging the discussion further. The mayor has suggested that the base salary for councilmembers remain the same, but that an additional stipend be given to those who attend and participate in additional meetings. Should the Council wish not to discuss this agenda item, it may be pulled at the time the agenda is approved at the beginning of the meeting.
Item H: Discussion: Mayor Salary – The Finance Committee has placed a discussion of the mayor’s salary on the agenda for Monday night. As discussed at the committee level, there are a number of factors to consider in terms of establishing “correct” compensation for elected officials: comparison to other cities (and which other cities), whether salary limitations may prevent otherwise-qualified candidates from considering public service, whether salary should be linked to the work hours necessary to meet the needs of the position, and more.
Items I-L: Mayor/Council/Department/Committee Reports
Item M: Councilmember Fred Kennedy recognition – April 15th will mark Councilmember Fred Kennedy’s last City Council meeting. Councilmember Kennedy earned a reputation for respectful, thoughtful dialogue, careful review of work product and councilmember meeting materials, and as an advocate on council for effective, “right-sized” government and nimble regulations.
Item N. Executive Session: RCW 42.30.110 (c) and (i) – Following the Council’s regular agenda, the City Council will enter into executive session to discuss potential litigation and potential property sale. No action will be taken after the session.
Finally – Monday, April 22nd is Earth Day. Politics aside, there are numerous opportunities where local government can be better stewards of the public’s money and trust, by reducing waste. To that end the City is working with the Sanitary Service Company (SSC) on an audit of all City facilities for waste disposal, recycling, and other best-practices. We are seeking to reduce the number of printers and scanners at City Hall, consolidating those efforts into a smaller number of more-efficient machines. The City expects to invest in new maintenance software to better-track maintenance of City vehicles and to improve the identification of those vehicles that are running less-efficiently. This year, the City has conducted internal trainings to reduce the amount of redundant paperwork in our purchasing system. The Ferndale Municipal Court is working with other staff to create online or fillable documents, potentially decreasing the amount of paper used. The City is scheduled to construct a new decant facility that will support the City’s efforts in effectively disposing with street sweeping spoils.
We also recognize that the water conservation measures that have been put in place by the City are frustrating, even if they are necessary. The City is working to gather additional information and helpful tips for the community’s water conservation efforts. How much water does a lawn need? Can residents use rain barrels or cisterns to store rainwater? What are drought-resistant plants? Many of our moreadept gardeners know the answer to these questions already, and we will be asking them to share their thoughts with us and their neighbors as well. My personal experience with gardening has been more as a spectator and forced laborer, and I am interested in learning more as well. We have been experiencing hotter, drier weather over the last few years, and whether this lasts or not – it is helpful to know how to deal with it.
And there is always more that can be done. These are all common-sense approaches that will end up saving the public money while also using less resources.
Remember – the May 6th Council meeting and May 1st Committee meetings have been cancelled.
The public is encouraged to attend City Council meetings. They are held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month (the Tuesday following in case of a holiday) at 6pm in Council Chambers at the City Hall Annex located at 5694 2nd Avenue.