December 20, 1999
CARNATION--Although the city no longer has an official mayor since changing to the council-manager form of government, the council did vote Bob Patterson in as a new "figurehead" mayor at their first meeting under the new government. Patterson has been on the council since April 1998.
"Rather than being the executive officer of the city, the mayor is more of a chairperson of the council," said City Manager Woody Edvalson. "With the change, the city relies more on the city manager to run the day-to-day business of the city. The mayor has no authority to become directly involved."
Incumbent Stuart Lisk was named mayor pro tem.
The new council has a full plate of issues to deal with, including the effects of I-695, water rates, another sewer study, and the loss of the police levy. Although early returns of the $102,000 police levy seemed promising, a hand recount done the day before Thanksgiving revealed that the measure went down by two votes. It was the second attempt to pass the levy that would have been collected in the year 2000.
Edvalson said last week that the levy garnered the required "yes" votes, but came short of the 60 percent needed to pass. The levy would have cost a property owner about $0.95 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
City officials had warned of staffing cuts should the levy fail, but Edvalson said the council is still studying options, including looking at maximizing officer hours or eliminating the part-time chief position.
Actually, the city has been mostly without a chief since Chief Bonnie Soule went on maternity leave some months ago, he said. Soule, who was hired in February when the city contracted with King County, gave birth in November and is not expected back to work until May.
"The contract says we still have to bear the cost," he said. "Because she was on limited duty, it has impacted her effectiveness the first year."
He said if the chief position were to be eliminated, a major at the Bothell precinct headquarters would be the one the officers would turn to if necessary and supervision would be provided by sergeants.
Edvalson said the city still isn't sure why the levy failed. "We don't know if the residents are dissatisfied with the police department or the taxes," he said. "The city will have to make a decision early in January as to how it will affect the residents in terms of service provided."
In other city finances, the city will lose about $40,000 as a result of the passage of I-695. In the second year, the loss will be higher, Edvalson said, due to the city receiving funds next year from the last quarter of this year's motor vehicle excise tax. The city will have about $15,000 (or 3 percent of the annual operating budget) left at the end of this year, but, he said, it will be eaten up by inflation. He said the city is planning "across the board" cuts to adjust to the loss in revenue.
At last week's meeting, the City Council passed an ordinance increasing water rates by about 20 percent. The rate increase goes into effect January 1.
"The city hasn't increased water rates since 1995," Edvalson said. "We need an increase to keep up with expenses. In the past, we have been able to loan money to the water fund to keep it out of the red, but because of I-695, we can't keep doing that."
Finance Director Richard Gould said monthly in-city rates will go from $21 to $24.50 for minimum usage of 600 cubic feet. Out-of-city rates will go from $31.50 to $37. The city also raised the surcharge for every 100 cubic feet over 600 cubic feet used from $2 to $2.50.
The council is also considering going to curbside recycling, Edvalson said. Currently residents use the city's recycling center. "The cost to residents would be about the same," he said. "But there would be additional expense for yard waste disposal."
But after a lengthy public hearing last week, the council tabled the issue, deciding they needed to study the matter further.
Sewers will undergo yet another study, Edvalson said. "We have hired a consulting engineer to prepare sewer and facilities comp plans," he said. "They will be working on that over the next nine months. A citizens' committee will be working on it as well."
Edvalson emphasized that the city needs more volunteers to serve on the planning, police advisory, and park planning committee boards. Those interested should contact officials at City Hall.