By Mellow DeTray
Here’s our recap of the Des Moines City Council meeting held Thursday night, June 8, 2023:
Speeding in Redondo Continues
According to one public commenter, dangerous speeding is an ongoing issue in Redondo. He was frustrated that the speed cameras won’t be operational until August at the earliest, when they were scheduled to be running by June. He said that cars were recently racing by after dusk without their lights on.
Fourth Quarter Financial Report for 2022
Revenue and expenses for this period were both below budget, but revenue was only slightly under budget while expenses were far below. In addition, city revenue exceeded expenditures.
Areas of revenue for the city include:
- Property Tax, which jumped after 2020 as property values increased
- Utility Tax Revenue, which increased after 2021
- Sales Tax Revenue, which has been steadily increasing despite a drop in 2020
Manufacturing and Automotive business taxes have both shown a drop in recent years, down 13% and 28% respectively, but other business and occupation tax sources have all increased.
Red light running is another source of income, but it has stayed low after a peak in 2019. This is one revenue source that is seen as a good thing if it stays low, since that means more drivers are obeying traffic laws.
The General Fund balance keeps growing, and currently has more than twice the minimum required. Following the presentation, Councilmember Vic Pennington said that he has seen the city barely scraping by financially in years past, and the strong financial position it is now in is due to the diligence and care with public money from staff and the city manager.
Ferry on Track to Arrive this Friday, June 9
According to City Manager Michael Matthias, the long-awaited passenger ferry has finally made its way past many obstacles and delays, and should be in the marina sometime this Friday, June 9, 2023.
Chief of Police Position Update
The city received nine strong applications for the Chief of Police position and, after many interviews, City Manager Matthias hopes to be able to introduce the new chief next week.
New Security Camera System at Marina
Council voted 7–0 for a system update and new camera technology at the marina. The cameras will be able to get license plate numbers, as well as record boat activity, which will increase security and safety throughout the marina property. Redondo and Sound View Park both already use this wireless camera technology.
Mayor Matt Mahoney read a proclamation in honor of Juneteenth, which recognizes the day, two months after the end of the Civil War, when the people of Texas were informed that all people had the right to be free. Juneteenth has been a celebration of the end of slavery ever since. City offices will be closed on June 19 in celebration of this day.
Transportation Improvement Plan Passes 7–0
The Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) lays out the city’s transportation priorities, and makes possible various grants and funding sources. There will be more public outreach on the city’s TIP priorities in the next 4 to 6 weeks. According to Mayor Mahoney, the city received state funding for the Safe Routes to Schools program, as well as the Barnes Creek Trail, both items from the TIP.
Housing Action Plan
One speaker during the Public Hearing on the Housing Action Plan (HAP) said that by 2025, one-third of American households will be composed of a single individual, and 85% of homes won’t include children. This, she said, will drive a rise in demand for smaller homes, affordability, density, and more opportunities to age in place. She wanted to make sure that Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are included and allowed in the city’s HAP.
According to Community Development Director Denise Lathrop, ADUs are already allowed, though they are referred to as Accessory Living Quarters (ALQ) which can be attached or stand-alone. Additionally, homes on wheels are not currently allowed and each dwelling must have a proper foundation. The HAP passed 6–1, with Councilmember Harris opposed.
$26 Million Bond for Marina & Redondo Redevelopment Approved
With the city’s debt capacity usage currently at 7%, this bond approval will increase usage by 26%, to 33% of total debt capacity. That leaves the city with 67% of its debt capacity remaining available. Many nearby cities are using 100% of their debt capacity.
Repayment of this bond will not be reliant on property tax proceeds. Instead, it will come from one-time sales tax from construction projects valued at over $15 million dollars. Another source for bond repayment funds is future parking revenue, which should be strong once it starts coming in again.
Councilmembers Gene Achziger and JC Harris tried to amend the motion to no longer include building the marina steps and other expensive items, but their amendment failed 5–2. The $26 million dollar bond to redevelop the marina and Redondo, after years of planning and discussion, was passed in a 5–2 vote.
Council Protocol Manual Updates
The meeting was extended and board & committee reports delayed in order to make time to finish discussing potential changes to the Council Protocol Manual, but in the end the discussion went too long. Council will continue hashing out the details of the manual at the June 22 meeting.
Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. 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.