By Jack Mayne

The Des Moines City Council completed a review and unanimously approved required changes in the biennial budget, and honored retiring member Bob Sheckler at his last meeting.

The Council also heard a muted apology from a SeaTac Councilmember-elect for remarks made in November about a then proposed 16 percent tax on water and sewer utilities.

‘Hell of a ride’
Mayor Dave Kaplan and all other members of the Des Moines Council lauded Sheckler who leaves the council after 20 years.

Sheckler spent many years shepherding the city through the third runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and for bringing a Chinese firm to the area that resulted in the nearly completed Four Points by Sheraton Hotel at 22406 Pacific Highway. The hotel is slated to open next February.

“This has been one hell of a ride,” Sheckler said. “In 20 years I have seen a lot of things, I’ve seen a lot of Councilmembers come and go and this is, by far, the best Council I’ve ever seen in this city.”
It is a good time to leave, he said, because the culture of the city has changed.

“We are no longer that small little bedroom community that is doing just okay. In order to make that viable we had to change the culture and you can’t do that without a lot of hard work on the part of the City Council,” and he pointed to City Manager Tony Piasecki as doing much to change that culture.

“Now we welcome business and we are no longer looked upon as those people who just don’t want to have a good attitude for businesses to come to. Now they actually are quite pleased – a lot of good complements from the people who come to this city to do business with us.

“Now I have to figure out what to do on Thursday nights,” he said to laughter.

Forschler says ‘sorry’
SeaTac City Councilmember-elect Rick Forschler was the first to speak at the Council, reminding that his last appearance before the Council on Nov. 12 when he made some negative comments on a potential Des Moines utility tax, an issue Mayor Kaplan has taken off the table at least until next year.

Forschler read from an earlier e-mail to the Des Moines Councilmembers that he had sent after his November public appearance:

He said his comments to the Council were his own and not on behalf of SeaTac or its city council, but that costs of sewer and water districts serving both cities affect taxpayers in both cities. For example, he said when SeaTac uses the new regional jail in Des Moines, the rates charged SeaTac reflect the costs of Des Moines taxes, so they affect SeaTac residents.

“I’d like to apologize to the Des Moines City Council and the city manager for not commenting earlier in a less public venue than at your own Council meeting,” he read from his earlier letter to Des Moines, adding he had found out about the tax being up for decision and there was no time for any other approach.

He reiterated his apology, noting the city is now considering a franchise agreement for the utilities.