Council, Port of Seattle each approve a new 10-year Interlocal Agreement

By Jack Mayne

The SeaTac City Council on Tuesday (Dec. 12) approved a somewhat contentious and long-debated new 10-year Interlocal Agreement that should bring at least $30 million into city coffers. Councilmembers Rick Forschler and Tony Anderson were the two negative votes, with all others voting to approved the pact.

Earlier on Tuesday, Port of Seattle representative Katie Kuciemba Halse told the Council that Port Commissioners also voted approval of the agreement. Port of Seattle Commissioners Stephanie Bowman, John Creighton and Fred Fellerman voted for the ILA, while Commissioner Tom Albro voted against it. The fifth commissioner, Courtney Gregoire, reportedly had to leave the meeting before the vote but was considered in favor of the agreement.

Long negotiations
The City and the Port began negotiating this Interlocal Agreement (ILA) in June, 2016, under the overall guidance of the city’s Joint Advisory Committee.

“The agreement before you today is fair and balanced, providing predictability and consistency both to the Port and to the city,” Halse told Councilmembers before their vote. She listed several improvements, including compliance with the city’s business license rule with a fee structure to support integration of port permitting into the city’s system. She also noted increased money to support added policing because of the people going through the city on the way to and from the airport.

Departing SeaTac Councilmember Kathryn Campbell asked why the agreement delegates to the port ability to issue city permits for development at the airport. City Manager Joe Scorcio said that delegation of the Port as the city’s agent was made because much of the permitting is for aviation related facilities requiring a unique, or airport related skills.

Keeping qualified staff
Also, there are times when there is planning and engineering underway for future facilities and the airport is able to keep qualified staff on salary. If the city did the permitting, it would have to carry uniquely qualified employees on the paid staff that were basically underutilitzed.

“This is the cyclic pattern that occurs in development in which you are busy and then you are not busy … during the time that you’re not busy, you are carrying the cost,” Scorcio said. “The Port wants to take the burden on carrying that static cost, it made sense to let them through this agreement.”

The city has an oversight authority to maintain quality of planning and work.

He said the new agreement brings any development adjoining parts of the city administered as property that now must be buffered. In the past, no buffers were required. The lack of buffers is not needed in interior areas of the airport where decisions are made for operational reasons.

Giving up too much
Forschler said he thought delegating permitting to the Port was giving up too much and the city should retain all of its legal authority. “In my mind, giving up permitting is one of the critical things we are missing in this,” he said.

“We are giving up too much,” Forschler added.

Scorcio said the difference was delegating to another goverment and the city has that authority.

The city will get a lot more money from the Port under the new agreement, said Mayor Michael Siefikes. The city got about $4 million from the port in the last 10 years, but Scorcio said the city will get “just short of $30 million in the next 10 years under the new ILA.” Siefkes said that doesn’t include additional money the city will get from currently unlicensed businesses on Port property or other changes built into the agreement, especially as the Port enters a high growth period.

Another part of the ILA is for the Port to close all of the unneeded accesses that interrupted city rights of way. In the past, Scorcio said, every time the Port needed an access for some type of construction change they put in a driveway, they later locked it up up and left it there.

“That is an unacceptable condition in the long term,” he said. “This agreement means they will be working cooperatively with us to identify the ones they no longer need and restore city right of way to its proper condition,” he said.

Two councilmembers leaving
Councilmember and former mayor Tony Anderson served on the SeaTac Council for 12 years and did not seek reelection and will be replaced by newly elected Clyde (Fuzz) Hill.

The other departing member is Councilmember Kathryn Campbell, who served four years but was defeated in the November election by incoming Councilmember Joel Wachtel.

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