By Mellow DeTray

Here’s a recap of Thursday night’s (Jan. 12, 2023) Des Moines City Council meeting:

ARPA Funds & City Finances
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds totaling over $9 million have been collected by the City during the last two years, and the majority have been spent to improve economic recovery and public safety. Money went to help low income residents, funding utility assistance through Puget Sound Energy and eviction prevention for residents earning less than 50% of the median income via Catholic Community Services. Another program, Emergency Assistance Takeout for Seniors (EATS) helped senior citizens as well as local businesses. The program ended in July 2022 after running for two years, and funded over 14,000 meals at 23 local restaurants. It served as a model for other cities. There was also nearly $10,000 in aid granted to each of 45 local businesses, keeping 149 people employed through the pandemic.

Another chunk of ARPA funds were allotted for public safety, including purchasing an evidence van, body cameras for officers, five police and social worker vehicles, and money for hiring new officers and mental health support. One mental health support position remains unfilled. An emergency management plan for the city was also created.

An additional $250,000 funded the Metro shuttle service from Angle Lake Station to the Des Moines Marina district. This shuttle was so successful that Metro is keeping it in service and taking over the cost of running it.

There is currently $565,548 of ARPA funds unspent and available for reallocation. Staff is recommending allocating $400,000 for the passenger ferry service, $115,000 for Marina infrastructure, and $50,000 for the Arts Commission. These modifications will be voted on by Council in a future meeting.

During the finance presentation we learned that sales tax on retail, services, and construction is up, exceeding prior quarters as well as predictions. Also of note, four different Seattle dock operators have approached the City regarding the passenger ferry service, so this year’s program will have its pick of Seattle destinations. Last year, finding a dock to work with in Seattle was a difficult task, but the program was so successful that it’s no longer a problem.

Automated Traffic Cameras for Public Park Zones
In 2005, the State of Washington authorized the use of traffic cams to control speeding in school zones, for red light enforcement, and along railroad crossings. The law requires a traffic study before installation, and doesn’t allow images of the occupants of vehicles. In 2011, Des Moines started using the cameras in school zones, and in 2016 began using them for red light enforcement.

In 2022, State legislation changed to allow additional camera locations, including public park zones, school walk zones, and hospital zones. At this meeting, Council voted unanimously to install, after traffic studies, automated cameras along public park zones that have an issue with speeding. This will specifically include the Redondo boardwalk, which has speeding issues that will hopefully be addressed by the use of traffic cams.

Here’s video of the full meeting:

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. She has volunteered at many local establishments over the years, including the Burien Library, Burien Actors Theatre, and Hot Feet Fitness. After working for ten years at Burien Community Center, she moved on to teaching fitness classes and to work the front desk of a Burien yoga studio. For many years Mellow kept a moderately popular cooking & lifestyle blog, and she had a brief stint in political journalism during a local election. Clear and informative writing has always been a side hobby of Mellow’s and she looks forward to bringing you unbiased coverage of City Council meetings.