SeaTac Council approves budget update; told it has $13 million ‘rainy day fund’

By Jack Mayne

The SeaTac City Council was told at Tuesday night’s regular meeting that it had a 2018 “rainy day fund” of “approximately $13 million,” and the money is a hedge against future unforeseen financial problems or requirements.

Finance Director Gwen Pilo is there just in case of whatever could happen in the year until the current budget runs its course.

The current city biennial budget is in its second year, with a new budget formulated and to be adopted sometime late in 2018. State law requires cities with biennial budgets to conduct a mid-biennial budget review. The Council reviewed proposed budget modification from the city administration and considered.

Police grant lost
One change was the application for a half million dollar grant application that would have partially funding two officers was not approved because there were 1,100 applications for the grant, Scorcio said.

Outgoing Councilmember Tony Anderson noted that the officers were still needed.

City Manager Joseph Scorcio said there was money for the officers in unbudgeted funds, but recommended that the matter be considered by staff and a recommendation made in early 2018. He noted during discussions on the pending agreement with the Port of Seattle that police services is where the the city is hit the hardest.

The Council told the staff to not increase the property tax levy for property owners along with eliminating income from the end of the red light traffic cameras at year’s end.

Still, the 2018 general balance ending fund balance in the amount of $52.6 million for all budgeted funds.

Interlocal agreement
The proposed 10-year interlocal agreement was slated for approval by the Council, a new one to replace a Port-SeaTac agreement that has been in existence since 1997 with a new one, said Scorcio, was to “eliminate, replace prior agreements.” The current proposed would fully replace the one that is slated to expire Feb. 16, 2018. The agreement came following extensive negotiations between elected officials and staff personnel of both the Port and city.

The Council was shown “key elements” of the new agreement which include land use and development regulations, $1.4 million a year for traffic problems and stormwater feels of $1.3 million a year. Port employees would monitor and the Port’s agreement to further support the city’s requirement that private enforce city business licenses in and around airport facilities have valid SeaTac city licenses. Income from business license fees is projected “at minimum” of $226,000 a year and would increase as business at the airport increases.

In addition, the two governments would form land use and other “development regulations to meet the needs of the Port and the city.”

Scorcio said “clearly an improvement” is a plan to fix minor problems by memos of agreement between the agencies.

Part of the agreement, once implemented, would require a full review of the agreement at halfway through, or in five years after implementation and the option to reopen and renegotiate the agreement or parts of it. There is also a two year notice if something must be renegotiated outside of the mandatory review period.

Another part of the agreement is a plan for regulations and map that Scorcio said “clearly identifies what is Port airport operations responsibility” what is the area the city has the most involvement. It will require buffers to airport specific facilities that are directly next to city area now with no buffers at all. The “edges” matter, he said, not those inside the perimeters of the airport.

Port help for police
Scorcio said, SeaTac has a population of 29,000 but the airport draw makes that a daily crowd of 179,000 people. “That’s the big gap.”

But he said the new potential agreement with the Port recognizes.

“This is a community unlike any other community in the state of Washington and possibly in a lot of other places where so much of our city limits is impacted by one single property owner that doesn’t pay (property) tax,” he said which is where the funds to pay police comes from.

The Port has agreed in he proposed ILA to pay $1.4 million annually as community relief to help us in the areas of safety and public services, Scorcio said.

Where did that number come from? It is extracted from the cost of providing an officer 24 hours a day and that would cost the city about $1.2 million now and about $1.6 in 10 years. The number selected was “in the middle” and a flat rate which makes it easier to work out, he said.

In other business
Council approved a two-year agreement with Philips Publishing Group for a new publication. The city’s parks and recreation guide will be redesigned as the city’s SeaTac Magazine, said Executive Assistant Lesa Ellis, at a cost of $58,100 per year. Advertising would be sold in the publication but the potential income to the city is so far unknown, Ellis said.

New city employees were introduced by Scorcio – they are Emergency Management Coordinator Wilfredo Lugo, Computer Technician Kim Tang, and Accounting Technician Jennifer Berg.

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