Council discusses employees wage schedules, metropolis lawyer hiring replace throughout Dec. 17 work/research session

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Council discusses staff salary schedules, city attorney hiring update during Dec. 17 work/study session

Mountlake Terrace Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright, in the far right top row, speaks during the City Council’s work / study session on Thursday.

Mountlake Terrace City Council reported at its December 17 working / study session on a number of actions that must be completed before the end of the year – and which will be voted on for approval at the December 21 business meeting.

Police chief Pete Caw recommended that the city renew an interlocal agreement with the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force (SRDTF). This task force consists of investigators from over 30 law enforcement agencies in Snohomish County and is taking a multi-jurisdictional approach to tackling organized drug trafficking in the area. Mountlake Terrace Police Department has assigned a detective to the task force in the past but is currently using a narcotic canine and handler for local enforcement. Caw said the detective from the department assigned to the task force was assigned to an officer who deals with violent criminals.

Caw told council members that the SRDTF “has been very useful to us”. Since his department does not currently have a detective on the task force, the cost of participating in the agreement, which expires at the end of the year, is based on the city’s population. The cost of Mountlake Terrace during the planned two-year extension would be nearly $ 4,200 per year. Caw said those funds will be used to pay the task force director and related costs.Screen Shot 2020 12 19 at 5.13.51 PMCiting the task force’s 200 or so arrests and recent seizures of heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine and firearms, Caw said there had been “great success” and that it was “a useful tool” for local law enforcement efforts.

Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright and Mayor Pro Tem Doug McCardle both said this was money well spent and that an extension of the deal would be needed to make it happen.

City engineer Jesse Birchman presented the council with a plan for the continued use of contracted on-call services to complement the public works department. These include engineering, geotechnical, environmental, surveying, materials testing services for the planning and construction of road and utility projects, as well as additional support for the city staff to review private development reports. He said that using such on-call services contributes to the city’s technical staff not always having better technical skills, allowing for a faster response and greater efficiency in meeting those requests.

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The necessary on-call services would be financed through permit fees or the money to support these individual construction projects. Birchman said that due to the number and different sizes of upcoming projects in the city’s capital improvement programs, these on-call services are most efficiently provided with agreements that support multiple projects rather than individual agreements for each project. The recommendation urges the city to make several arrangements for these services as all current arrangements for additional assistance have either expired or will soon expire.

Five companies were recently selected through a competitive process as those best qualified to provide the identified on-call services. Each proposed service contract has an initial term of two years, with options to extend that term for two additional one-year terms. The total remuneration of the companies for all tasks required under the agreement may not exceed the amounts originally requested.

If approved, on-call services would be provided as needed, and the proposed arrangements would require individual work orders for certain activities costing more than $ 40,000 to be submitted to the city council for review and review.

“This is to help engineers respond to the different needs and plans we have begun to implement,” said Birchman.

On another matter, city administrator Scott Hugill recommended that the city council cut the upcoming salary adjustment for non-union city workers amid economic uncertainty surrounding the impact of the pandemic. The city’s two current collective agreements provide for a 2.75% wage increase next year, and Hugill proposed a 1% wage increase for all unrepresented workers. In addition, starting salaries for positions based on the Washington State Minimum Wage will be increased to $ 13.69 per hour.

The city council adopts an annual cost-of-living-adjustment salary plan that sets the pay ranges for union and non-union city positions. Traditionally, the determination of wages has taken into account wage adjustments in the city’s two collective agreements with the unions, changes in the consumer price index for the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, and wage margins in cities of similar size, or other comparable areas.

The Police Guild, which represents police officers and sergeants, and Teamsters Local 763, who represents finance, public works, and parks / facilities, will continue to receive a 2.75% raise for the next year as the agreements with these unions were earlier were negotiated to cover a period through 2021.

Hugill told the city council that prosecutor Greg Schrag, who had previously told the city that he would be retiring in late 2020, had agreed to a one-month extension of his contract on ongoing charges to give the city more time to close Search for his successor. The selection of a new law firm for community legal services is not expected to be completed until mid to late January, and the Schrag extension would allow ample time to bring a new law firm on board.

He said that both of the eligible law firms can provide lawyers with the knowledge and experience required to provide legal services, having previously worked in various cities from Sultan to Tukwila for several years. He told the city council that both companies charge the same rate for these services and take similar objective action so that the ultimate choice is to find the “right match” with the city council and its needs.

Hugill asked some council members to attend upcoming interviews with the candidates. He noted that the role of the position requires not only knowledge of the law and the ability to apply it, but also the ability to give firm and diplomatic advice and identify possible actions that will enable the city to achieve the goals and objectives Realize community priorities. Councilors Erin Murray, Laura Sonmore and Rick Ryan have volunteered to attend the interviews, while Doug McCardle will act as an alternative if planning conflicts arise.

Councilor Bryan Wahl recognized the need for outside services but said he had concerns about these costs and would prefer the city to hire an attorney for an in-house position at some point.

Hugill estimated that the costs associated with using an outside company could be about $ 50,000 more than currently spent. He said the city could recruit an in-house attorney in the future and, following the upcoming selection, this would also allow for a “honeymoon period” during which the city council and city staff can assess the fit of the working relationship. Hugill said it is quite common for corporate lawyers to go to a city after an initial representation for legal services.

Murray said the most important thing for the city is to get and have the best representation possible and not to settle down due to possible circumstances or complications during the process.

In other business areas, the Council passed an ordinance correcting a bug in the November approval authorizing the sale of income bonds to fund upcoming capital supply projects and to refinance a 2010 bond issue. The bond sale from early December resulted in an offer to finance these bonds at a combined interest rate of nearly 2%. However, there was a bug in the previous regulation which implemented the maturity dates of the bonds, but this did not affect the actual sale of these bonds as the proposals were based on the actual intended dates.

At the business meeting on Monday, councilors will vote on whether to continue the agreements on professional lobbying services. The city currently has contracts with the Johnston Group for federal lobbying and Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs (GTH-GA) for such services at the state level. City officials recommended keeping both companies for the next year.

The cost of the contract with the Johnston Group would be nearly $ 54,000, which has been the same since 2017, and maintaining GTH-GA’s services would require approximately $ 46,000. Hugill said both organizations had given the city a good return on their investments in advocating community priorities and ensuring higher levels of funding for citizen projects.

Several councilors agreed that these services were of particular value to the city and outweighed the costs associated with these lobbying efforts.

Jeff Betz, Director of Recreation and Parks, gave an update on the Ballinger Park Waterfront Design project due to be built next summer. The project includes the construction of a new boat launch at the current location and a new floating jetty next to the launch that will replace the existing fishing pier. A new fishing pier would be installed farther north and the existing tire crack along the coast would be replaced with native planting and soil erosion control techniques.

As part of the renovation project, toilets were recently installed at the launch of the boat and an accessible path from the Mountlake Terrace Community Senior Center to the launch area of ​​the boat. Betz said the design process has completed and the permit application process has begun. City workers will return to the city council in the spring to select a contractor for the planned construction, which Betz is expected to begin in August 2021.

The final cost to the city was estimated at approximately $ 750,000, but Betz said he was “suspicious” of the possibility that this could increase as the project is a rebuilding project that can be unpredictable and is currently also a “very unequal time for tenders”. ”

Several council members expressed their enthusiasm for the upcoming project and looked forward to its completion.

The city council’s agenda for the December 21st session is available online.

– From Nathan Blackwell

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