The following letter to members of the Ferndale City Council is provided courtesy of Ferndale City Administrator Jori Burnett. It is regarding the Ferndale City Council meeting agenda for the regular meeting scheduled for 6pm, Monday, November 18th.
Prior to the regular meeting, there will be a budget study session regarding expenses that will begin at 5pm.
Your agenda for Monday night is as follows:
5:00 pm Budget Study Session: Finance Director Sirke Salminen will be discussing the computer fund (510), the equipment repair and replacement fund (550), and the Thornton construction fund (370). The rest of the hour will focus on the current expense fund.
Item A: Public Comment
Item B: Consent Agenda, including approval of November 4, 2019 Council Meeting Minutes, November 5, 2019, October 2019 claims, Humane Society Contract Renewal, Budget Amendment Ordinance, and Closing Funds #309 and #347.
Humane Society Contract Renewal: The Finance and Administration Committee has placed a contract renewal with the Humane Society on the consent agenda; as drafted the Humane Society would continue to provide animal control services to Ferndale for the next three years, at the same cost as they have provided services over the last decade.
Budget Amendment Ordinance: As proposed, the 2019 budget would be amended to reflect additional costs associated with computers, software subscriptions, and other technology-based expenditures. The budget would also be amended to increase the 2019 budget for the Pioneer Pavilion.
As the City has grown to rely increasingly on technology to offset staff reductions, decrease the hiring of new staff, and streamline operations, the cost to maintain and keep current with technology has increased. The 2020 budget is anticipated to reflect this greater understanding of computer and software needs, and ongoing improvements to asset management are anticipated to further reduce the need for future budget amendments in this category.
Closure of Funds: The City had previously created two capital project funds (Star Park and MainLaBounty/ Walgreens). The Star Park project has been completed, and the funds remaining in that account will be returned to the City’s Park Impact Fee fund. The Main-LaBounty/ Walgreens project (two two-lane roundabouts) has been suspended indefinitely pending the construction of the Thornton Extension and further evaluation of the City’s transportation system following the conclusion of that project.
Item C: Presentation – North Whatcom Poverty Task Force – Owen Cool, vice-chair of the North Whatcom Poverty Task Force, along with fellow member Jim Carr will be presenting an update on the work of the Task Force, the progress they have made and the next steps for the group. The Task Force was formed in early 2019 to address the local impacts of poverty and is set to deliver their final recommendations to the council in 2020.
Item D: Capital Projects Update – Capital Projects Manager Katy Radder will provide an update on ongoing and future capital projects.
Item E: 2020 Property Tax Levy – Following a public hearing held on November 4th, the City Council is asked to adopt an ordinance stating the amount of property taxes the City of Ferndale will take in 2020. The Council must notify the Whatcom County Assessor of their intent by November 30th. City Staff recommends taking the full “banked capacity” (totaling approximately $1.4 million per year), as detailed in the accompanying staff reports.
Item F: Public Hearing, 2020 Budget – the City Council will hold the first of two public hearings on the 2020 budget.
Item G: Construction Engineering Contract, Thornton Overpass – The City Council is asked to enter into a contract with Reichardt and Ebe Engineering for Construction Engineering Services associated with the Thornton Street Overpass project, for a total cost of $1,925,320 over the lifespan of the construction project. The Thornton Street Overpass is the largest, and perhaps the most complicated, project of its type undertaken by the City, and the administration of the project will rely on a multi-disciplinary team of professionals. The contract is within the normal range for a project as large and expensive as the Thornton Overpass. Staff recommends approval.
Item H: Interlocal Agreement, Wayfinding Program – The City Council is asked to enter into an interlocal agreement with Whatcom County and the other Whatcom County cities that will facilitate a coordinated rollout of a comprehensive regional wayfinding signage system. As per the terms of the interlocal agreement, Whatcom County would compensate the City for half the cost of the vehicular signage within the City, with the County’s share estimated to be approximately $93,000. The City has included $100,000 in the 2020 budget to represent the City’s share.
The Finance and Administration Committee discussed the issue at length, specifically as to whether the City would be obligated to initiate the project or to complete the full scope of work described in the interlocal if City funding was not available. Staff has spoken with their counterparts at Whatcom County, who have confirmed that the interlocal provides pro rata funding only for the ACTUAL vehicular sign costs. This means that if the City does not put up a sign, it is not obligated to do so – but will not receive any pro rata for that sign, either.
The Council also asked whether the County would consider a low or no-interest loan to assist jurisdictions that are unable to complete the full scope of work. The County confirmed that while a loan is not described in the interlocal, it has been discussed and generally agreed upon, should the need arise. Staff believes that these County responses do substantially reduce the City’s risk, and Staff continues to recommend approval of the interlocal agreement.
Items I-L: Mayor, Council, Department Reports, Committee Minutes.
Finally, it is the time of year once again to give thanks – which can be ironic, given that at this time of year, we at the City are often faced with the most contentious, difficult decisions (which are made even more challenging in an election year). Giving thanks for stress and anguish could seem counterproductive.
But it’s really not ironic to give thanks for difficult decisions. Because these are decisions that the entire community gets to participate in. They really do – even though we frequently hear that Ferndale is not a small town anymore, the fact of the matter is that the community conversations remain very much small-town oriented. We read the same articles/social media posts. We participate in the same conversations, usually with one degree of separation or less. We know the same people. We see the same issues.
And the decision-makers do consider the perspective of the larger community, in a manner that directly shapes proposals and the ultimate votes that are taken. Does that mean that a vote will suddenly move from right to left, or from no to yes? Not necessarily – but these perspectives dramatically shape what is actually voted on.
The individuals who will be voting on these issues next year will be very different from the individuals who have served the community over the last four years. Two of our councilmembers – Xczar and Hansen – have been elected to higher office. As of this writing, at least five new councilmembers will be seated on January 1st. This follows one of the most active campaign seasons in Ferndale’s history, reflecting a diverse set of candidates, viewpoints, and approaches – and a common love for our community.
Monday night will conclude the return to Council for Councilmembers Jensen and Bersch, both of whom were called back to service earlier this year when two council vacancies opened up. Both councilmembers understood that the half-year or so of service would not be a cakewalk. Neither person needed the extra stress in their lives. But both felt the compelling need to once again serve their city when it needed them.
We all fight fiercely for Ferndale. And my goodness, having a community that we love so much, having a community that is worth fighting for, having so many qualified people who are ready to serve to make it even better – well, that’s a pretty good thing to be thankful for.
See you Monday – Jori
The public is encouraged to attend City Council meetings. They are held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month (on the following Tuesday in event of a national holiday) at 6pm in Council Chambers at the City Hall Annex at 5694 2nd Avenue.