Letter to the editor: Mayor’s statement on budget changes not supported by facts

Mayor Nelson,

I have to respond to your comment: myedmondsnews.com/2022/01/commentary-council-budget-cuts-will-make-edmonds-unsafe-polluted-and-uninformed.

Your inflammatory statement “These council cuts will make Edmonds unsafe, polluted and make our residents misinformed” is not supported by the facts or the proposed changes. I will demonstrate this with amendments that I support.

Your statement:
“Additionally, they want to cut funding for our new Department of Social Services.”

Proposed change:
#21 – $200,000 for the social services department. The Division has a carry forward of $409,000 and there is no need to add additional funds. An amendment can always intervene during the year if this money is necessary.

My comment:
Based on my 50 years of experience as a social worker, working in and with non-profit organizations, it is my opinion that municipal government is ill-equipped to provide social services to the public. There are many nonprofit agencies that have the support staff, training, expertise, agency structure, awareness, and HIPPA compliance procedures, to better serve populations in the need.

Your statement:
“Cutting the green streets and rain garden programs will create more flooding on our roads and pollution of our waterways.”

Proposed change:
“#61 Green Street and Rain Gardens – excerpt -” There is not enough information to support where green streets are or the definition and how bio-retention and rain gardens should be constructed to reduce the floods?

My comment:
Without a definition of “Green Street,” how can the city allocate American Rescue Program Act (ARPA) funds? Additionally, rain gardens should be carefully located and strategically constructed to provide bio-retention and reduce flooding.

Your statement:
“They want to cut a new pedestrian safety barrier in the police parking lot designed to protect our residents from collisions with police cars responding to emergency calls.”

Proposed change:
#38 – New police perimeter fencing – this should be reviewed by a committee to determine less costly methods can be used.

My comment:
I support the council reviewing the expenses of this perimeter fence.

Your statement:
“For the first time ever, this year our city has a full-time Public Information Officer (PIO). And “some board members want us to step back and reduce the position from full-time to part-time.”

Proposed budget amendment:
#16 – Public Information Officer – full time support not provided.

My comment:
You refer to the “recent tsunami advisory” as the reason for having a full time PIO. Please explain why you believe a PIO is related to emergency management. How about having an updated CEMP (comprehensive emergency management plan) like Ken Reidy has been emailing you and the board for many months? An updated CEMP would assure residents that your administration has a “comprehensive plan” in the event of a catastrophic event in Edmonds.

Your statement:
“Their removal of the filtration system used to clean polluted water entering the Edmonds Marsh will allow toxic chemicals to harm salmon and wildlife in our city and Puget Sound.”

Proposed change:
#55 – Edmonds Marsh Water Quality Improvements – Excerpt: “There was no rationale for water mitigation or phasing of this stormwater project. Suggest that the aspect of stormwater that has been clarified in the CIP/CFP be presented to the Board”

My comment:
Depending on the methods used to reduce pollutants to improve Edmonds Marsh water quality, this could be extremely costly and significantly increase our stormwater utility rates. It is important that the details are known before the council allocates the funds.

A proposed change that is critical to the health of the Perrinville Creek watershed:
#60 – Perrinville Creek Projects – excerpts: “The administration has promised a full review of the Perrinville watershed in 2020” and “There is no support to fund $3.5 million from ARPA for this rehabilitation .”

My comments:
The WCC received the ARPA funds of $3.5 in 2021. The damaged watershed at the lower end is caused by the upper watershed, which includes Lynnwood.
Full restoration of Perrinville Creek will cost far more than $3.5 million, so it’s critical that we don’t spend ARPA funds until a restoration plan for the entire watershed, including Lynnwood, n is not presented and approved by the board.

This means partnering with Lynnwood so both towns help restore Perrinville Creek.

And, proposed amendment:
#1 – REDI Manager – there is not enough information to support a full time FTE. Suggest accumulated data as well as reasons why current consultant used is not enough.

My comment:
Adding a full-time FTE, without justification, also adds significant ongoing costs associated with a new position and a new department. I support a REDI consultant.

Mayor Nelson, you have only yourself to blame for the 93 amendments to the 2022 budget. You and former council chair Susan Paine are responsible for rushing the 2022 budget without a thorough review of concerns, questions and amendments from all council members.

Here are two LTEs at myedmondsnews questioning the rushed budget process.
By Council Member Buckshnis:

On the related CIP/CFP rush:

People of Edmonds,

There is something for everyone in the 93 proposed amendments:

A public hearing is being held by council on Tuesday, February 1, 2022, so there is still time to submit your public comments to:

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

Joan Bloom
Former Edmonds Councilor

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