City Council to hold public hearings Monday on 1 percent property tax, EMS levy increase

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Following a review during its Nov. 16 work/study session, the Mountlake Terrace City Council is scheduled to hold public hearings Monday Nov. 20 on 1 percent increases in both the 2018 property tax and the emergency medical services (EMS) levy, as well as a proposed 27-townhome subdivision on 48th Avenue West.

The council will also open a public hearing on a 2017-2018 Mid-Biennial Budget Modification Ordinance, although that is likely to be continued until the next business meeting to allow for inclusion of additional data.

During the Nov. 16 meeting, City Finance Director Crystil Wooldridge explained that there are three options the city council can take regarding the assessment of the 2018 general property tax levy.
– Levy the property taxes without any increase
– Increase the property tax levy by 1 percent
– Increase the property tax levy utilizing $400,000 in banked capacity. This amount followed a decision by the city council last year to not take the full amount of property tax revenues allowed and instead “bank” them for future use.
Staff is recommending that the city use that banked capacity to fund design work in 2018 for the $12.5 million Civic Campus project that was just approved by voters. That will result in a $55-per-year property tax increase for the average Mountlake Terrace home in 2018. Collection of the amount just approved by voters – an increase of $97 annually for the average home — will kick in for 2019, Wooldridge explained.
The city is also recommending the council approve an annual property tax increase of 1 percent, which is a maximum allowed by law, plus a 1 percent increase in the EMS levy.
At Mayor Jerry Smith’s request, City Manager Scott Hugill reviewed the next steps for Civic Campus construction, explaining that design work involving the community will take place in 2018, followed by construction in 2019. The goal is to be in the new building by the end of 2020, Hugill said.
For Civic Campus design, the city will follow a process similar to the one that was followed in developing the bond proposal. The architect, still to be selected, will work with the community to determine preferences for various aspects of the building design. “So we’ll have these checkpoints along the way so the community is fully involved,” Hugill said.

Councilmember Bryan Wahl asked about the possibility of creating public/private partnerships to pursue additional amenities for the Civic Campus design. “We’ll explore that for you and bring back some options as well,” Hugill replied.

One example of how this could work: The City of Puyallup was able to build its city hall larger by renting out some floors to outside entities. “The intent was, that when 20 years had elapsed and Puyallup had then grown in size, it could then occupy those spaces, those floors, that it was renting out.” At the core of that discussion would be how such a proposal would benefit the community, Hugill added.

The other public hearing involves a proposed subdivision — known as Terrace at Park West — that would involve 27 townhomes on a 1.337-acre parcel at 21303 48th Ave. W.

According to Edith Duttlinger, the city’s Acting Community and Economic Development Director, the proposal has been reviewed by the city planning commission, which recommended that the council approve it.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, the council heard a status report from Duttlinger regarding the following Comprehensive Plan amendments under consideration:
– Amend the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Map to designate certain publicly owned
properties as Parks and Open Space, protecting those properties for their intended purpose.
– Amend the Town Center Subarea Plan and Land Use Element to facilitate
development, “or at least to evaluate that,” Duttlinger said.
– Amend the land use element “goals and policies” and “actions to take”
consistent with existing and changed conditions and any amendments to
the Town Center.
– Amend the Recreation, Parks and Open Space Element to provide for
special use park and financial goals and policies.
– Review the Economic Vitality Element “actions to take” timeline.
Duttlinger then went on to share with the council some of the discussion the city’s planning commission had on the amendments, including the following:
– Regarding the designation of certain publicly owned properties as Parks and Open Space, she noted that there are six such parcels spread throughout the city. In most cases these are lands that were deeded to the city, usually associated with some type of site development project. “The planning commission concurred to proceed with all of those,” she added.
– For the Town Center subarea plan and land use element, one of the planning commission conversations focused on whether the Town Center vision needed to be revisited, or possibly changed, Duttlinger said. The planning commission concluded that “the vision statement itself for the Town Center is solid and it still reflects what the expectation is for that area to develop into the future.” The challenge, she added, is whether implementation strategies currently in place “are able to accomplish that goal.” And that ties into the question of building heights, Town Center design standards and the economic vitality issues related to attracting development. It’s clear that this issue needs more in-depth consideration, but due to current resource limitations there aren’t substantive changes currently proposed to the land use element or the Town Center plan. This will become a priority in 2018, she said.
– The planning commission also reviewed goals and polices and actions to take related to the land use element and recommended a number of changes, additions and deletions.  Key items that the commission focused on were tree protection, creating gathering spaces, encouraging lot consolidation, emphasizing multimodal transportation and more emphasis on financing.
– Regarding amendments to the recreation, parks and open space element, the commission wanted to ensure there was an opportunity for special use or opportunity parks, that could be provided by developer impact fees. It turns out the city already has a provision for this type of park development, she said.
– In terms of reviewing the economic vitality actions to take, the commission took an opportunity to update the language with new data, she explained.
During the discussion following Duttlinger’s presentation, councilmembers addressed the idea of allowing smaller lot limitations in single family zones — for example, from a 7200 or 4800 zone to perhaps 3,600. This would accommodate senior citizens who want to build “mother-in-law” additions that permit them to age in place in their homes or subdivide the lot so they could earn extra income, Mayor Jerry Smith noted.
“The 3600 (zone) will also help our buildable land supply,” added Councilmember Kyoko Matsumoto Wright.

Monday night’s business meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in interim Mountlake Terrace City Hall, 6100 219th St. S.W., 2nd Floor, Mountlake Terrace. You can see the complete agenda here.

6 COMMENTS

  1. So now that we approved the $12.5 million civic campus design they want to hire a new architect to come up with a brand new civic campus design, spend all of 2018 coming up with this new design, and push the start of construction to 2019?

      • If there was not a plan before then how come people were talking about total square feet, the size of certain offices, how much space was being used for conference rooms and halls and such? How hard are the project numbers used to get this passed? Are we now looking at “extra” spending on things that were not included in the overall project to keep the number being voted on down?

        • We had an architect perform a space needs assessment to determine how much space we need and created a cost estimate based on that size. We have a project budget now of $12.5 million and the design will need to stick to that budget. Everything is an estimate until the project is actually designed and bid.

          • Would have been nice to hear about that before the election. I can’t see that it would have changed my particular vote as I voted yes based on the cost being a number I could live with and wanting to get the project into the rear view mirror as fast as possible after it has drug on so long.

  2. Tony, you’re being exposed to the great difference between Planning and Design. Planning is the big-picture effort, where needs are assessed, footprints are explored, and options are decided. Design is the part where you figure out where the exit signs and 2x4s are placed. Big difference between the two. Planning is figuring out what the requirements are. Design is about meeting those requirements.
    That being said, I hope MLT has the foresight to include some of WSDOT’s Division 1 specs regarding claims and equitable adjustments….architectural specs are notoriously lax when it comes to enforceability…

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