By Mellow DeTray
Here’s our recap of the Des Moines City Council meeting held on Thursday night, Nov. 16, 2023:
One community member asked council to reconsider the creation of an “enterprise fund” for Events & Rentals, a decision made at a recent meeting. They said the $750,000 loan didn’t make sense when there is no business plan. This topic was addressed by council later in the meeting.
One commenter shared that he believed a finance committee needs the authority to practice “tough love” and needs to begin immediately trimming away excess city expenses in order to avoid pending economic disaster.
Another commenter mentioned that the council not sharing info on the city manager situation creates an information void, and people will automatically assume the worst. He asked for more explanations of closed-doors council decisions. Mayor Matt Mahoney shared at this time that a new city manager will be hired in the first half of 2024.
Multiple people spoke again in support of preserving the historic Masonic Home.
Council & Interim City Manager Reports
Deputy Mayor Traci Buxton said Des Moines currently is addressing 608 cases of code violation throughout the city, a recent upward trend. She added that community members can report safety concerns and code violations at desmoineswa.gov/report.
In Tim George’s first report as Interim City Manager, he said that Redondo speed camera construction will begin Monday. This has been long anticipated by many who are concerned for road safety in the area. George explained that Puget Sound Energy recently told the city there would be another substantial delay, potentially pushing the camera construction to next summer. However, Mayor Matt Mahoney made a phone call to someone he knew at PSE, and they were able to prioritize the project.
New Business: Enterprise Fund Reconsidered
Councilmember Harry Steinmetz moved to reconsider creating the Events & Rentals Enterprise Fund. He explained that after meeting with a number of people and discussing the idea, it sunk in that there is no clear plan for how the enterprise fund would make money. He described the idea as half-baked. Councilmembers JC Harris, Gene Achziger, and Deputy Mayor Buxton agreed. Harris said that a professional would need to be hired to direct the enterprise, if it is to be a successful business.
Councilmembers Jeremy Nutting, Vic Pennington, and Mayor Mahoney all still felt the enterprise fund was the way to go in order to get Events & Rentals to start making money. Events & Rentals have historically lost hundreds of thousands of dollars from the general fund every year. However, Mahoney said he would support this move to look into it further.
Achziger reminded everyone that the motion was to reconsider, not rescind the decision. It passed in a 5:2 vote. Along with reconsidering the formation of the enterprise fund, the $750,000 loan that went along with the plan will be reconsidered as well.
Pennington’s Last Meeting
This meeting was Vic Pennington’s last as a councilmember, as he is retiring. Newly elected Councilmember Yoshiko Grace Matsui will be stepping in to fill Pennington’s seat at the next city council meeting. Matsui ran unopposed in the recent election.
Pennington received a standing ovation and many kind words for both his years of service on the council and with the fire district. For his part, Pennington thanked the staff for being the unsung heroes of city government.
Tree Lighting Ceremony
The holiday tree lighting ceremony at Big Catch Plaza will take place on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 from 5-7 p.m. The event includes pictures with Santa, holiday music, hot cocoa, and cookies. It is a free community event, with the tree lighting itself to take place at 6 p.m.
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 10 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.