Mountlake Terrace Parish Council is considering changes to the sharing arrangements with the school district

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Mountlake Terrace councilors meet on Zoom during their work / study session Thursday evening.

Mountlake Terrace City Council discussed changes to the interlocal arrangements with the Edmonds School District and also reviewed the city’s fiscal policy at its September 16 work / study session.

Since 1988, the City of Mountlake Terrace and the Edmonds School District have signed a number of reciprocal leases for shared use in various city and county facilities. This exchange originally included the city’s school district charging for use of the gym and fields at Mountlake Terrace Junior High School, which is now Terrace Park Elementary. And then the city bills the school district for use of the leisure pavilion’s pool and racquetball courts.

Over the years, the names of the properties and specific agreements have changed, such as a change made seven years ago to an earlier pact between the two companies that included the operation and maintenance of the Terrace Park Elementary gym. The city and school district agreed in 2014 to add additional district facilities that the city could then use to offset the district’s use of the city facilities. That included Kids Krew before and after school and the Mountlake Terrace High School Theater.

A new leisure facility and service agreement between the city and the borough in 2018 included the Terrace Park sports fields, Mountlake Terrace High School theater, the two Kids Krew Before and After School sites, and the swimming pool and racquetball courts of the Recreation Pavilion. That contract covered everything except the agreement for Terrace Park Elementary, which was updated four years earlier.

Both city and district officials have subsequently found it difficult for them to correct usage since the 2018 agreement, as Washington State requires cities to use a calendar year budget while school districts use a September through August budget calendar have to. One of the proposed changes to the inter-local agreements would clarify this administrative issue.

After the conclusion of the Recreational Facilities and Services Agreement four years ago, it also became clear that there was some overlap between this and an earlier pact from 2002. As a result, both currently include the Kids Krew pre and post school locations, as well as use of the high school’s Mountlake Terrace Theater. The second proposed change would remove these redundancies in the agreements.

City officials recommended that the council approve both changes to the interlocal agreements with the school district. Council members will vote on the proposed changes to the approval calendar at their regular business meeting on Monday evening.

In preparation for the 2021-2022 budget change, the council reviewed the city’s financial policy on other matters, helping to develop the biennial budget in even years, and also with budget changes in odd years, before the second year of operation. Changes to the budget in the middle of the biennium may include changes in income and expenditure that could not have been foreseen when the current budget was adopted. The current two-year budget was approved in autumn 2020.

The city’s financial policy includes its reserves, cost recovery, debts, and prioritizing community services. The city services are considered to be priorities in the following order:

  • Public life, health and safety: This includes the police, fire brigade and emergency medical services; Building inspections; Traffic control; along with water, sewage and drainage service and infrastructure maintenance.
  • Legal mandates: These include accounting, auditing and financial reporting; and land use planning.
  • Urban Facilities and Land: Including maintenance of parkland, buildings, roads, right of way and equipment.
  • Leisure, sport, water and youth programs.
  • Pursuing the goals of the city council and the community.

The guidelines provide guidance to the city council and staff on how to make financial decisions, including budgeting and forecasting. They are designed to ensure that core services are maintained and that the Council’s vision for the community can be realized.

The guidelines also help ensure that residents’ tax dollars are used in a transparent manner, protecting the city from financial crises and economic disruptions. They affect municipal fund balances, cost recovery fees and fees for services or programs, utility tariffs, cash management, and interest-bearing investments that allow funds to earn interest until they are later needed for operation, capital purchases, or the repayment of city debt.

City Manager Scott Hugill recommended two things for the council to consider “when we get out of the pandemic”. This includes possible changes to capital programs and purchases, as well as a future discussion on accrual budgeting versus cash-based budgeting. On the latter, he commented, “This is not an easy conversation in a remote setting” because it involves a number of calculations that can be complex and benefit from sufficient time for mutual discussion and explanation.

The city is responsible for maintaining and improving its facilities, parks, infrastructure and equipment. Current fiscal policy regards anything above $ 5,000 as a capital project or purchase, which Washington state law requires that these items be accounted for separately. He recommended that the Council start a discussion on “raising the threshold from the current 5,000 (to) much higher” because of rising costs.

Hugill, for example, said that replacing five concrete pavement slabs now costs more than that threshold and since it is then labeled a capital project or purchase, the state requires the city to track its depreciation over 30 years. The same standard for capital improvement programs applies to road and utility maintenance work. “We will have a discussion on increasing this amount so that every small project doesn’t get on the capital improvement program list,” he added. “It will continue to be tracked, but not necessarily in a report for the (state) auditor.”

On other matters, a city council subcommittee recommended appointing Rohit Mojumder to fill a vacant position on the Mountlake Terrace Diversity Equity and Inclusion Commission (DEIC).

With the resignation of a commissioner moving out of the city last month, a transition point was created that will run until June 30, 2023. Following recruitment efforts, four applicants were recently interviewed by the subcommittee.

Subcommittee member Erin Murray noted that Mojumder had previously been a strong candidate for nomination to the commission when it was formed last year. His most recent interview “really solidified our original thoughts about him,” said the city council member. “One of the things we noticed that ultimately led us to consider him for you is that he spoke a lot about his work as a program manager about his ability to work with multiple stakeholders to help them to somehow help solidify what their goals are and help move the working bodies forward. “

Both Murray and Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright, who also sits on the city council’s subcommittee, said they were happy that the city has so many residents willing to volunteer and encouraged those who weren’t selected at the time have been to continue their efforts to help the community.

The adoption of the recommendation to appoint Mojumder to the DEIC for the remainder of the term will be put to a council vote at Monday’s meeting.

In a discussion of voting and posting requirements in the council, city officials recommended that the city code be updated with regard to board and commission information.

The Code currently lists four notice pages for city council ordinances and notices. Information about the Mountlake Terrace board and committee meetings must also be posted in these locations, including City Hall, Mountlake Terrace Library, Recreation Pavilion, and Post Office.

However, the city traditionally only publishes board and commission information on agendas and legal notices at the meeting place and on the Internet – and not at the four locations named in the city regulations. As a result, the staff recommended that a specific section of the Code regarding notifications be amended to align with current practice for the disclosure of information by panels and commissions.

The city council will hold its next regular business meeting on Monday, September 20th at 7pm. It will contain an update from the Snohomish Health District. Here you can find the agenda and information to watch / participate online.

– From Nathan Blackwell


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