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Some final thoughts on 2012

 

Last updated 12/12/2012 at Noon



As 2012 comes to an end, the council has passed another deficit-ridden budget for 2013 and, as if trying to demonstrate how inept federal government agencies can be, the FAA gives Mukilteo and the region a rock for Christmas.

The FAA has issued its Record of Decision that essentially clears the way for commercial air service out of Paine Field. Unfortunately, the FAA has failed to consider the actual adverse impact this decision will have not only on our community, but also on the economy in Snohomish County and the state.

While some argue that a “few flights” won’t significantly impact our community and will help our economy, the long-term impacts will be devastating. The 1990 Airport Noise and Capacity Act is a bit of federal legislation that prevents airports (such as Paine Field) from imposing curfews on operations.

So, even though the “intent” may be just a few flights a day, there is nothing protecting the community from just a few between 2-3 a.m., for example. The FAA only considered the short-term impacts and there is no limitation on future growth.

Another serious threat to area jobs and our local economy is the risk of Boeing looking for facilities that don’t out-prioritize their operations at Paine Field like commercial air service would.

Boeing has already moved their corporate offices to Chicago and a new 787 production line to South Carolina. Why would we want to provide yet another reason for Boeing to look at moving the production facilities of their most advanced airliners elsewhere?

Fortunately, Save Our Communities has tirelessly led the campaign to educate people on the true threats to our quality of life and economic well being that commercial air service at Paine Field will ultimately create.

If you’re not on SOC’s email list, you owe it to yourself to sign up now at socnw.org. They also have a wealth of information on their website, including the economic impact of Paine Field (Boeing and aerospace manufacturing) at $19.4 billion compared to SeaTac’s $11.4 billion.

The city of Mukilteo is also unanimous among the City Council and administration in the fight against commercial air service and protecting Boeing and aerospace design and manufacturing in our region.

The city has retained a top-notch attorney and committed the budget necessary to work smart to ensure our community and economy is protected now and into the future.

The 2013 Mukilteo budget has also been approved by the council by a vote of 5-2 with Councilmember Steve Schmalz and myself voting no.

(It was entertaining to watch the subtle squirming that was taking place when one of the councilmembers necessary for the budget to pass showed up an hour late.)

In the end, the budget was passed pretty much as presented, void of any council Finance Committee input (the proposed agenda was proposed and rejected in February, and then a balanced budget resolution was proposed and dismissed a couple of months later).

I did attempt to respond to the residents who asked that the hours the Rosehill Community Center was open on weekends be expanded like other community centers.

After a fair amount of research, I proposed extending the open hours to the public by 16 hours per week. Considering the operating budget has Mukilteo taxpayers subsidizing the community center by more than $200,000 in 2013 (it’s actually more like $300,000-$350,000 if you look at the actual expenses).

Add in another $900,000 per year to pay off the bond and, after the wedding revenue, I thought $24,000 was a bargain to swing the community center pendulum back toward the community.

It would have been an even better bargain had the council decided to charge market rates for weddings when proposed at the beginning of the year. I was wrong.

In all fairness, after the idea was pooh-poohed, the council is planning yet another “work session” (I’ve more appropriately named them “sales sessions”) to “discuss” the matter further.

After having been thrown under the community center bus continuously over the past couple of years, I’m not interested in continuing the agony.

After the 2013 budget was adopted, at the last meeting we had the fourth quarter budget amendment and approved an additional $106,800 in Police and Fire department overtime alone.

Although a big chunk of the overtime occurred near the beginning of the year, the administration chose to wait until December to let the council know they went over budget and ask us to approve what had already been spent.

I suppose I was in denial because after making a stink about this inappropriate process from the administration, I voted to approve the budget amendment as proposed! Whaaat?

Finally, to wrap up 2012, I had three resident requests to follow up on at the last council meeting. Previously, I would raise these issues at the beginning of the meeting before staff who could answer the questions would leave.

Curiously, the title on the agenda had been changed from “Reports from Mayor and Council” to “Mayor and Council Committee Reports.”

After confirming with the mayor that indeed the intent was to move some of the inquiries previously made on behalf of our residents to the end of the meeting, I graciously asked to be heard during the next item on the agenda titled “Citizen Comments.”

After all, one doesn’t lose their citizen status when they become a councilmember.

The preceding feature is published the second Wednesday of each month for The Beacon and is the opinion of Kevin Stoltz and may or may not represent the views of the Mukilteo City Council.

 

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