Here’s what will be discussed at Monday’s Ferndale City Council meeting

ferndale city council meeting audience 2018-09-17
Ferndale City Council meeting audience (September 17, 2018). Photo: My Ferndale News

The following letter to Ferndale City Councilmembers is provided courtesy of incoming 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, November 19th plus a study session before the meeting.

(C.A. Report – Page 1 of 27)

Councilmembers –

We hope that your last weekend before the start of the holiday season provided you with some calm before the storm. Your agenda for November 19th is not long, though the topics you will consider are somewhat complex. We are hoping that your meeting will set the City up for a productive 2019, and our discussion is very much forward-focused.

Study Session: We will start at 5pm with a study session for the 2019 budget. As you can see, our Finance Director has been able to work closely with each of the department heads and the mayor to identify cost savings and greater certainty. You now have a balanced budget in front of you. Credit goes to our Finance Director, but also all of our department heads, for working together to identify solutions for the good of the City. This has been a very productive last couple of weeks! We will be ready to respond to your questions at 5pm.

Consent Agenda: We will follow this study session with our normal consent agenda which includes two contracts for your consideration. It is time to renew the contract for our lobbyist Brian Enslow. Council will also be asked to approve a contract for our new Municipal Court Judge Mark Kaiman. Judge Kaiman has been a practicing attorney since 2001 and has served as a pro tem judge in District Court for four years. He comes very highly recommended, and is a resident of Ferndale. If his contract is approved on Monday, we expect that he will attend our December 3rd meeting to be ceremonially sworn in.

Regular Agenda: Turning to our regular agenda, Brian Enslow will present on the outlook down in Olympia as well as a draft 2019 legislative agenda for Council adoption. As has been his practice, Mr. Enslow will be happy to take additional questions from the City Council.

o Private Development Presentation: Our Associate Planner/ incoming Community Development Director Haylie Miller will present on private development. This month she will focus on the permit process in general – a process that is always fascinating (to some) because it is both very technical but also very dependent on personalities, egos, and the bottom line.

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o Property Tax (Public Hearing): The one public hearing of the evening is on the 2019 property tax levy ordinance. Here, the Council is asked to take its allowed annual nine-tenths of one percent increase and to bank the one-time payment of $160,000 which resulted from overpayment to Whatcom County Fire Seven as part of the District’s annexation of the City. Staff has not recommended taking additional banked capacity for 2019, as we believe it is unnecessary at this time and will be more appropriately used in the future when it can be earmarked for specific uses or plans.

School Resource Officer: Item F is a discussion of the School Resource Officer (SRO). Chief of Police Kevin Turner has requested an opportunity to speak, as he was at training during the week and was unable to attend the Finance Committee discussion. The Finance Committee questioned whether the contract adequately addressed the SRO’s division of labor and cost-sharing. As shown in your packet, the Chief has recently audited the position and is able to provide accurate numbers for your consideration. We believe that the contract is fair and is proportionate, and the Council will be given the opportunity to vote on the contract Monday. Staff will take direction based on this vote.

Announcements: Our typical mayor, council, and department comments/reports will follow.

Non-Represented Contracts: The last two agenda items of the evening are directly associated with one another. The Finance Committee requested an Executive Session pursuant to RCW 42.30.110 (g) “to evaluate the qualifications of an applicant for public employment or to review the performance of a public employee. However, subject to RCW 42.30.140 (4), discussion by a governing body of salaries, wages, and other conditions of employment to be generally applied within the agency shall occur in a meeting open to the public, and when a governing body elected to take final action hiring, setting the salary of an individual or class of employees, or discharging or disciplining an employee, that action shall be taken in a meeting open to the public.”

Immediately following the executive session the council will return to open session. The draft contracts negotiated by the Mayor and City Administrator are included in your packet, and as with the SRO contract, the Council will be given an opportunity vote on these contracts Monday. These are employees who are not represented by a union, and the majority (not all) of these staff are department heads. These contracts seek to get closer to a standardization of benefits internally while achieving a better balance with peers from other jurisdictions externally. Salaries for these positions have lagged behind their peers for some time, and these contracts seek to bring them closer. The contracts also establish (for the first time) an upper limit in terms of vacation hours that can be carried over – thereby decreasing the City’s potential liability over time.

The mayor and I feel, and I believe our non-represented employees feel, that we really have a good team developing. We’d all like to stick around and see what we can accomplish together. Ultimately, the Mayor and City Administrator will take direction based on this vote.

Finally, as has become our custom, the draft agenda for our December 17th Council meeting (the last of the year) is blank. We cannot make a decision on that meeting until the City’s business on December 3rd is resolved.

Well, that’s it. I was just kidding about the other twenty-five pages….this time.

Documents related to the agenda items are available by clicking here.

The public is encouraged to attend City Council meetings. They are held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month at 6pm in the City Hall Annex in the Council Chambers at 5694 2nd Avenue.

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Joe is the founder of My Ferndale News. As a Ferndale resident, he hopes to empower the community with free access to news that matters and makes a difference in the day-to-day challenges faced while we work and live in the Ferndale area.