Farmers Market successes and state legislative priorities discussed by Council


By Jack Mayne

The Des Moines Farmers Market said the market now is “one of the best things going on in the city during the summer,” and new President Kim Richmond offered all involved thanks for “the hard work that we’ve all put in over the summer to make it what it is. It’s great and it’s going to get bigger and better next year. We did a lot of things right this year, even though most of us were brand new.”

Thursday night’s Council study session, under an hour and short by Des Moines Council standards, also began a discussion on the priorities it wants to get the Washington Legislature to consider at its 2019 session beginning in January.

Kim Richmond

’Slightly’ down
Richmond said Farmers Market sales this past year were down “slightly” as were the number of weekly vendors that is a “transitional issue from the old management to the new management.”

All of the food stamp and Fresh Bucks Match program “were actually up by more than 35 percent which tells me we are meeting needs of our low income citizens much better.” She said the market still has its senior healthy eating initiative grant, a $10 free grant to seniors who qualify and come to the market.

“All of that makes us more than just the best event on Saturday, it makes us a real, important part of helping to improve our community,” Richmond said.

The market will be open this Saturday (Nov. 3) at the dining hall in the beach park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Richmond said it will include a cider press, a wreath making class and “all kinds of fun stuff — the market in miniature inside the dining hall.”

Paid parking was not the big issue of last year and people were happy with the two hour free parking vouchers and occasional problems with the parking payment machines not working but “a lot less impact this year” over problems of 2017, she said.

Harbormaster Scott Wilkins said the combined parking revenue through Oct. 29 was $151,000.

SCORE Jail concerns
City manager Michael Matthias said of the major issues for the Council to examine is the fast increasing costs of operating the SCORE (South Correctional Entity) jail in Des Moines that serves the confinement needs of seven member cities and a number of contract agencies. It has a total capacity of 802 inmates.

Matthias said the city had a $450,000 cost two years ago, and $600,000 last year “and is now estimated to be $872,000 in 2019.” Fixed debt service costs the city $275,000 with the rest for the maintenance of the “daily population, i.e. how many beds do you require over the course of a year.” He said the city feels it may have been overcharged so it is asking for a review of the costs attributed to Des Moines and that review could ameliorate some of the cost.

The city participated in a committee to look at costs of the jail and how they may be able to be contained or how they could increase revenue, he said.

Another problem is that Federal Way has said it will withdraw from SCORE in 2020, meaning the total cost now divided by seven members, to then be divided by six members, thus increasing the costs of all South King County entities involved.

Matthias said the city is working with state legislators on finding a way to increase the rate paid to the jail by the state to house some of its inmates, something it is not wanting to do, but may be a way to control the SCORE costs with help from the state Legislature.

Other legislative issues the city is looking at include the potential of finding someplace for a second regional airport, an issue strongly opposed by the Port of Seattle which operates Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The city manager says that will take a long time to weave through the political pitfalls but the matter should be started now.

The city will seek state legislative reauthorization of a $2 million amount for construction cost of a new marina bulkhead, to correct the failing current bulkhead.

City staff reports
City Clerk Bonnie Wilkins said the city has received 134 public record requests in October and 1,319 so far in 2018, with 40 open requests, usually because of ongoing or complicated demands.

Susan Cezar, community development and strategic officer, said the city fall recycling collection event gathered 349 carloads of recyclable material. She said the city also received 274 new permit applications including those for building and land use projects. She said the city also conducted 1,083 field inspections, more than the 560 in 2017.

Cezar said Des Moines got 232 new and renewal business licenses during October.

George Delgado, the city’s emergency management director, said he is working with the city staff and the Highline School District to “identify non-English languages spoken in our community” to help develop a city comprehensive emergency management plan. The city, in an emergency, needs the ability to adequately converse with all residents and the variety of languages in the city is extensive.

Delgado said that a specific date will soon be decided to hold an emergency management pilot class in mid-January.

Police Chief Ken Thomas said the department is working on a homicide that took place at Pacific Highway and 272nd (read our previous coverage here).

Brandon Carver, city public works director, said the city is now using four portable speed radar signs to be rotated to problem areas throughout the city.



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