Edmonds City Council adopted an ordinance amending the 2022 budget after weeks of deliberation. (City of Edmond screenshot)

Edmonds City Council adopted an ordinance amending the 2022 budget after weeks of deliberation. (City of Edmond screenshot)

Edmonds budget amendment saga ends with $400K in spending cuts

The new City Council held five meetings, then adopted five of 30 proposed budget changes.

EDMONDS — After over seven hours of deliberation spanning one month, Edmonds City Council seemingly closed the book on amendments to the city’s 2022 budget Tuesday night.

“I want to appreciate all the time that everyone has taken — I know it’s been … an inordinate amount of time,” Councilmember Diane Buckshnis said. “I don’t believe this will ever happen again, because I don’t think it will.”

The original budget, with a focus on “green” initiatives, the new police chief’s goals and infrastructure improvements, was adopted in November 2021. Council members heard two budget presentations, led public hearings and continued the discussion at three meetings before its adoption. But after two of Edmonds’ more prominent progressives lost their campaigns to stay on the council, a new council majority moved to revisit the budget once the new councilmembers were sworn in.

They passed an ordinance Tuesday formalizing five changes to the budget.

The council cut plans to hire a permanent full-time Race, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) program manager, instead opting to contract the manager for three years.

Human Resources Manager Emily Wagener told council it would be harder to hire a person in a contract role. She added that she doesn’t see the city’s need for the position going away after three years.

The council also voted in favor of slashing about $400,000 slated for a “green streets” and rain gardens project, and moving $200,000 from the general fund for the Human Services division to the homelessness fund.

After evaluating dozens of proposed cuts, the council voted to increase appropriations by over $50,000 — adding $34,000 for the Fourth Avenue cultural corridor project and $20,000 to hire a full time senior planner at the at the top step of the salary range.

After meetings Feb. 1, Feb. 8, Feb. 15, Feb. 17 and Feb. 22, the budget amendment process reduced proposed 2022 spending by about $400,000, Finance Director Dave Turley told The Daily Herald. But council members said they’re going to revisit the green streets program and possibly put it back in the budget — making the savings net zero.

City department directors reappeared during many of the meetings to restate their needs — like money to complete projects to repair failing infrastructure, or expand access to basic needs for unhoused Edmonds residents. Directors returned to council meetings to justify why they need money to hire an additional person to help manage over 40 ongoing projects, or to secure the police station with a fence. Some of their pitches were repeated from the original budget process, Councilmember Laura Johnson said.

“I’d be curious to know how much this is costing the city of Edmonds in staff time and in council time, frankly, to actually relook at all these issues,” said former councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas during the Feb. 22 meeting. “I think it’s important to know that the staff are great, they work very, very hard for us, and to see them constantly be brought back and battered from some council members regarding the issues within their budgets, I think, is just a travesty to do to our staff.”

Councilmembers Buckshnis and Kristiana Johnson spearheaded efforts to reopen the budget, arguing it needed further vetting. And freshman Councilmember Neil Tibbott said his goals were removing excessive or unnecessary items, to exert discipline in already-approved budget areas, and to require further explanation before approving infrastructure improvements with “big price tags.”

Mayor Mike Nelson said some city projects and purchases were on hold for weeks as a result of reopened budget talks. In the end, council members only approved a handful of the over 30 proposed amendments.

Some of the proposed amendments — like removing $270,180 to purchase a police perimeter fence and eliminating $440,000 to begin work to fix two city reservoirs built in 1973 and 1976 — were unanimously voted down.

It’s not unusual for cities to revisit and revise budget plans, though Edmonds never really wrapped up its process in the first place.

The budget will likely be back on the agenda in a month, for first quarter amendments.

“At the end of the day,” City Council members “supported all of the programs — almost all of the programs — we initiated, so I’m very appreciative of that,” Nelson said. “And I’m focusing on moving forward.”

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; isabella.breda@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars drive through the intersection of Highway 9 and South Lake Stevens Road on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 9 to close this weekend in south Lake Stevens

Detours take drivers around the closure between 20th Street SE and 32nd Street SE from Friday night to Monday morning.

Empty shelves in the baby formula section at a grocery store in Lynnwood, Washington. (Jacqueline Allison / The Herald)
Amid baby formula shortage, local moms scrambling to feed babies

Shelves are bare and prices are up. But there are resources for Snohomish County mothers in need.

Everett
$1 million bail for Everett ampm shooting suspect

The suspect, 36, is accused of shooting an acquaintance Monday, dumping the gun in a dumpster and fleeing from police.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Snohomish County seeks input on spending American Rescue Plan dollars

In-person events across the county will help guide more than $80 million in federal recovery money.

Mandy Jeffcott and Aaron King explore the area beneath a highway underpass while conducting a PIT count Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County homelessness rose to 10-year high, count shows

Data released Monday confirmed what advocates suspected: The local homeless population grew amid the pandemic.

Sam Bowles records the run off the water from a chalk drawing with friend and co-artist, Rhyanna Mercer, Tuesday afternoon in Everett, Washington on May 10, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Jackson High’s global TikTok star is chalk full of ideas

Sam Bowles, 18, uses vibrant videos and social media fame to raise awareness of autism.

Dan Bates / The Herald
When Seattle Genetics founder, Clay Siegall lost his father while in college, he switched from studying for an MD to studying for a PhD., and a goal to treat cancer patients.  His efforts are paying off in lives.
Bothell biotech CEO resigns after domestic-violence allegation

Clay Siegall co-founded Seagen, which develops therapies for cancer patients. He’s accused of attacking his wife.

Everett
Nonprofit offers free mental wellness event for local teens

The Saturday gathering at EvCC, sponsored by Leadership Launch, is for teens in eighth grade through college.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
3.6-magnitude earthquake jars awake Darrington residents

The quake and aftershocks did not cause any serious damage. They’re reminders of dozens of faults that lie below.

Most Read