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, June 3rd.
Your agenda for Monday night is as follows:
The June 3rd meeting will be one of those unique meetings where the Council will enter the meeting with fewer members than when it leaves. The Council is tasked with selecting two new members who will serve until the November 2019 election is certified, as is explained in greater detail below as well as in the accompanying staff report.
In order to ensure that Council business is completed with seven members, the Monday meeting will begin with two presentations, following the approval of the agenda and flag salute:
Item A: Ferndale Civics Youth Council – The Youth Council, comprised of approximately twenty high school-age students, have been meeting prior to City Council meetings to discuss a variety of topics related to the City of Ferndale and the Ferndale community. With the end of the school year approaching, representatives of this body will provide a brief presentation to the City Council. We thank these current and future leaders for their contributions!
Item B: Building Official/ Building Inspector Presentation – Kyle Huebner, the City’s Building Official, will continue the City’s schedule of presenting an overview of his job duties, challenges, and opportunities. Mr. Huebner will be joined by Kraig Stevenson, Senior Regional Manager, Government Relations, of the International Code Council. While each staff member must enforce a combination of local and state/federal regulations, the enforcement of the building codes is, like stormwater regulations, nearly exclusively based on state requirements, but enforced and interpreted at the local level. Mr. Huebner will focus his presentation on the International Existing Building Code, a topical conversation in Ferndale as it involves the potential re-use of existing buildings.
Item C-G: Council Vacancies (#5 and #7) – The City has received seven applications to fill two vacant Council positions. As described in the City’s staff report, the Council is encouraged to allow each of the candidates a limited timeframe to introduce themselves to the Council, and for the Council to ask questions. The Council may wish to then adjourn to Executive Session to discuss the qualifications of the candidates. The Council may not discuss their intentions during the Executive Session. Following this first Executive Session, the Council would reconvene and vote on the first position (Position #7). Once that position is filled and the candidate is sworn in, the full Council (now numbering six) could return to Executive Session to discuss the remaining candidates’ qualifications. Staff feels that it is important to have a second Executive Session in order to provide the new Councilmember with the opportunity to participate in the discussion/ review. The Council would then reconvene and select the last member (Position #5). The staff report reviews a number of scenarios and procedural steps. The process is ultimately up to the City Council, and Staff will be available to provide additional procedural guidance as necessary.
Item H: Council Committee & Liaison Assignments – Once the City Council has filled Seats #5 and #7, the Council will be asked to identify Council Committee and Liaison assignments. Currently, there are two vacancies on the Public Works Committee and one on the Planning and Land Use Committee. There are also three liaison vacancies: Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA), Whatcom County Fire District 7, and the Ferndale Senior Center.
Item I: Public Comment
Item J: Consent Agenda, including approval of May 20, 2019 minutes, authorization of May 20, 2019 payroll.
Contract: Biosolids Removal – The Public Works Committee recommended that the City renew an annual contract with Fire Mountain Farms for the dredging and removal of biosolids from the City’s Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP – Sewer Plant). The anticipated contract would be for $170,925.06, based on approximately 200 dry tons of material. The contract would be for 2019 only (the removal of these biosolids generally occurs once per year).
Contract: Downtown Tree Planter Watering – The Finance and Administration Committee recommended that the City provide funding to the Ferndale Downtown Association (FDA) in the amount of $2,500.10 for the purpose of watering potted Downtown street trees. The Committee encouraged the FDA and the City to explore alternatives to this funding in the future.
Ordinance: Fee Code Amendment, Multi Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) Application Fees – The Planning and Land Use Committee recommended that the City amend the Unified Fee Schedule to include an application fee of $300.00 for applicants who wish to participate in the program. The required documentation from an applicant is relatively straight-forward and is not expected to represent a significant burden on Staff to process the paperwork.
Item K: Public Hearing, Puget Sound Energy Franchise Agreement Ordinance – in 2017 the City of Ferndale revised its franchise agreement policies, and since that time has been working with a number of service providers to modify or update existing and new franchise agreements. Essentially, a franchise agreement is a contract between the City and a variety of private and quasi-public agencies (generally but not always utility companies), that allows those companies to own and/or operate infrastructure within the City of Ferndale. The Puget Sound Energy franchise agreement is relatively straightforward and meets the requirements of the Ferndale Municipal Code. Staff recommends approval.
Item L: Public Hearing, Comcast Franchise Agreement Ordinance – the proposed franchise agreement with Comcast is also relatively straight forward. The two areas that may warrant additional consideration, from Staff’s perspective, involve Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) funding, wherein Comcast would assess a small fee (approximately $.25 per subscriber per month) from its subscriber base that would be used by the City to fund audio/visual equipment and materials, the ability to air a Ferndale-specific channel and programs (Council, Planning Commission, other public events or programs), and more. The second matter, which was discussed at the Finance and Administration Committee, involved Comcast’s customer service, specifically the manner in which the City of Ferndale could have influence over the franchisee. Staff has researched the issue. Comcast is subject to FCC 76.309, and reference to this regulation is included in the draft franchise agreement. While there are some jurisdictions that spell out the specific requirements in their franchise agreements, it does not appear that Comcast has diverged from these basic requirements from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Item M: Public Hearing, Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP): The Six-Year TIP describes those transportation projects that the City expects to work on over the next six years. The annual adoption of the plan is a requirement of Washington State, and the Six-Year TIP must be consistent with (but generally more-specific than) the long-range Comprehensive Plan. Public Works Director Kevin Renz and his staff have not made significant changes to the plan since 2018, primarily due to the fact that the Thornton Extension project will necessarily utilize a significant percentage of the City’s transportation resources. Not only will Thornton be the focus of transportation projects, but the impacts of Thornton are expected to inform the City’s subsequent decisions with regard to the transportation network, and which projects should be prioritized.
Items N-Q: Mayor, Council, and Department Reports; Committee Minutes
Item R: Executive Session – RCW 42.30.110(i). An Executive Session to discuss with legal counsel representing the agency in litigation or potential litigation. Action may be taken following the Executive Session.
All in all – a busy Council meeting that should lay the groundwork for the Council’s work over the next six months.
See you then – Jori
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.