Council considers $325K transportation supplement to city’s 2024 Comprehensive Plan

Mountlake Terrace Public Works Director Jesse Hoffman speaks to the city council Thursday night.

Among the topics the Mountlake Terrace City Council explored during its Thursday work/study session was a $325,000 request for consulting fees to fund Mountlake Terrace’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP), which is part of the city’s 2024 Comprehensive Plan update.

The city council approved funding for the TMP update in July 2023, using $325,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act. The original approved contract amount for Otak, Inc. on the 2024 Comprehensive Plan Update was for $500,000. This supplement to that Otak agreeement will raise the total to $807,515.

Public Works Director Jesse Hoffman explained that the funding request – which includes $307,515 for the consulting contract and $17,485 in contingency – will provide the data necessary to develop the transportation element of the 2024 Comprehensive Plan.

The Comprehensive Plan is a document that guides the city’s decisions over a 20-year period, serving as a blueprint for development. It is also meant to reflect the vision and priorities of the city and its residents while meeting the requirements of state and federal law.

Washington State’s Growth Management Act (GMA) requires that cities and counties update their Comprehensive Plans on a periodic schedule. The purpose of the 2024 update is to ensure the city is planning for the next 20 years of population and employment growth. It gives the city an opportunity to review and revise the plan and development regulations to ensure they comply with GMA requirements.

Updates in the TPM will support the transportation aspects of the 2024 Comprehensive Plan and consider proposed zoning, growth projections, and development that have occurred since the last update in 2007.

Councilmember Laura Sonmore expressed concerns over the $325,000 request for the Transportation Master Plan. “I’ve looked at what other cities are spending; I nearly fell off my chair,” she said. “So, my question is: When was the last time this was updated, and how much do we spend?”

Hoffman explained that the last time Mountlake Terrace updated its TMP was in 2007, and that was for a smaller scope.

“The difference is the city did a partial rather than a full transportation master plan,” Hoffman said.

“The whole transportation plan for the city has to be looked at and evaluated,” Hoffman added. “The models have to be rebuilt so that we can properly plan for the future of the City of Mountlake Terrace.”

He added: “In addition and really importantly are impact fees as development happens because that’s how we’re going to fund roads getting rebuilt and utilities getting put into the ground.”

Sonmore replied that she understood the $325,000 for transportation. “I know that’s big, but it’s still that other half a million dollars (for the Comprehensive Plan), and I know there’s going to have to be a lot of work going in, but I just had to say it because that was sticker shock.”

“I think that’s about what a house costs though right now if that makes sense when you put it in perspective,” Hoffman said.

In other business Thursday, the council reviewed grant resolution streamlining, a salary ordinance amendment and a work order for pavement preservation.

Salary ordinance amendment

Deputy City Manager Carolyn Hope reviewed a plan to restructure the city’s three open Engineering II positions that were part of the latest biennial budget request and had been included in a recent salary survey.

Hope said the public works department wants to allocate one of those Engineering II positions to information technology to create an IT Systems Analyst position at the same grade as the Civil Engineer II.

“It wouldn’t cost any additional funding to do that conversion, and that position would really support a lot of the projects occurring in it (the public works department) right now,” Hope said.

She explained the position would be mid-tier between the IT Administrator and the two customer service technicians. Further, the city is looking for a candidate who can ” walk in the door with a lot of IT knowledge and implement projects that we have on hand.”

Public works also wants to convert one of the remaining Civil Engineer II positions to a Civil Engineer III Traffic Engineer. Hope said that position is important because cities need traffic engineers, and sometimes they’re combined into other engineering positions.

 “We have a significant amount of work now and in our future to build out Town Center to update our TMP to take care of our increasingly busy streets and transit infrastructure and so forth,” Hope said.

She added that the engineering team is missing mid-level positions, and there are only senior- and junior-level engineers. The cost to raise the position from a Civil Engineer II to III is about $6,900 for one year and would add more depth to the staff.

Councilmember Sonmore stated she did not see a financial impact on the city, as the positions are currently open.

Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright asked if the positions were difficult to fill because of the competitive job market.

“They are very competitive, and we are struggling a little bit with our salaries as well,” Hope said.

Grant resolution streamlining

Public Works Director Hoffman explained that his department was reviewing its grants and found that the methods the department was using to obtain council approval were leaving a “mess on our side.”

Rather than bringing grants and projects to the council in parts, as the department has in the past, Hoffman said it will submit resolutions approving the expenditure of the grants in one motion.

Moving forward, the department will simultaneously bring every grant to the council. In this instance, it was seven grants that needed approval, and those will be included as part of the council’s consent agenda during its Sept. 5 business meeting.

Pavement preservation

Also reviewed during the work session was a public works department work order with David Evans and Associates Professional Services for pavement preservation and other projects.

Hoffman said the work order covers a construction management process known as Construction Engineering and Inspection, or CEI. David Evans and Associates will take field reports, perform testing, and look at prints and modifications on the job.

“Right now, we don’t have the staff to perform this function along with everything else that we do, along with monitoring the civil side of development,” Hoffman said. “This will supplement our staff.”

The total project cost is $61,162 and would be done on a time and material basis, he said.

There were no public comments during Thursday’s meeting.

The council is scheduled to meet next at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5 (a day later than usual due to the Labor Day holiday) at Mountlake Terrace City Hall, 23204 58th Ave. W. The meeting will also be available to view via Zoom: Go to and enter meeting ID 844 1833 2151 and passcode 98043. To listen via telephone, call 1-253-215-8782 and enter the meeting ID and passcode listed for the meeting, above. You can see the complete agenda here.

You also can view live-streamed council meetings and past video recordings on YouTube at

—  By Rick Sinnett

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