[EDITOR'S NOTE: This column by Earl Gipson is a view of SeaTac city government. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The SeaTac Blog nor its staff. We are seeking additional regular columnists to reflect opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at email@example.com.]
by Earl Gipson
From the Planning Commission last week Tuesday: More economic development killers coming at us and this time it’s the courtesy of the Department of Ecology. The higher powers keep saying they want to create jobs however the only jobs they seem to be creating are government ones. Our NPDES II permit (that is National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) requires all kinds of things including staff etc to look up your drain pipes. Want to build a new house? Good luck. After all the new requirements bankrupt you, you may have to tear down the one you have. We not only have the mandated Comprehensive Plan (Growth Management Act) but now some redundancy for surface water in the new Surface Water Comprehensive Plan. Adding insult to injury the DOE will not even allow our qualified staff to write our own plan. We have to use one of their contractors. Nice work if you can get it. The Department of Ecology: Swarming to a backyard near you.
Ah yes and now the Council retreat. This was held at Cedarbrook Lodge last Friday. A big deal involving our Fire Department may be coming up. Our Council will consider contracting our fire services to the Kent Regional Fire Authority (RFA) and no, you don’t get to vote on it. It is the Council’s decision. This also means transferring our assets to them (stations, trucks, governance, etc.). I am not going to get excited about this just yet. It makes sense as far as economy of scales, joint training, and a few other things. However, it will cost us more at first with the break even point coming in 2018 and lots of savings thereafter (at least that’s what is advertised). Here are my problems with this. Once we do this it will be very hard to “unwind” if it does not work out. Secondly who is going to check in 2018 that we weren’t sold a “bill of goods” and whom can we hang thereafter if it was all a lie? We are all trusting souls here, right?
The second part of the retreat was with the Planning Commission and the Council. After a little “personal expression” by Commissioner Tapio in a previous Commission meeting the Council and Commission were like an old married couple deciding who is going to do the shopping next week. Sometimes a little friction is a good thing and I think in this case it was. After all the upheavals in the Planning Department we seem to be getting back on track on the Zoning Code Update, Mandated Comprehensive Plan Review, and looming issues that have been ignored these past few years. Please don’t let us down.
Tuesday’s Council meeting and Study Session were fun and exciting (just kidding and to see if you are still reading). The City’s fee schedule was reviewed/presented to the Council (per their request) in relation to other neighboring cities, however some were left out. The staff said it would take a more in depth study. I don’t recall the Council asking the staff for a half-assed job but they did meet the scheduled time frame. It was also stated that some fees might be reduced and/or eliminated. I’ll believe it when I see it.
And lastly, as many of you may know, the Initiative to have the City act as union administrator and jack the minimum wage to $15 an hour for our private companies got enough signatures to be placed on the ballot or be enacted by the Council. This will be brought to on the July 9th Study Session and to the Regular Council Meeting on July 23rd where it will require a Council action (ballot or enactment). THIS is the time and place to speak your peace on this extremely controversial issue and the money that is being poured into it. Remember the unions bought our last election so who knows where this will lead.