By Jack Mayne

SeaTac City Manager Carl Cole told City Council members on Tuesday night (April 28, 2020) that Gov. Jay Inslee has announced Washington will partially reopen outdoor recreation activities May 5, including many previously closed state parks, public lands and boat ramps as well as recreational hunting and fishing.

Cole said the city “will probably follow suit at some level — every time we get one of these proclamations there is always a lot of questions.”

He said city inspectors and staff are back to work full-time work under some health guidelines and were able to deal with people on Monday that the city staff had been unable to the previous Friday. Some committee meetings have restarted but he said they would hold off on others until they hear what the governor is going to do next week.

Plenty money ‘right now’
“In no case is there going to be a complete flip the switch that puts us back to where we were in January. It’s going to be an incremental increase. Too many variables to make decisions today.”

“We are continuing tomorrow our (city) revenue projections based on three scenarios, quick recovery, slow recovery, recession,” Cole said. “It is really too early to tell you what we have come down with.”

Cole said he was preparing for “a second or third wave” of the virus.

“We have plenty of money right now and we are not in the position of other cities right now are, that have to furlough (city employes) or lay people off.”

The city manager said the city will keep watch on the numbers and events and “when we have some credible numbers that we can make a prediction on then that is what we are going to do.”

Money for smaller cities
Cole said Gov. Jay Inslee has said $300 million has been set aside for smaller cities and counties in the state for COVID-19 recovery and “our projected share of that is about $875,000” and $25,000 of the money “has to be on COVID-19 related expenses and the rest “probably going to be used to mitigate lost revenues.”

“This is very good news, as we we get more clarification on what expenses will be allowed then we share that.”

Councilmember Takele Gobena asked whether money from the state is for future expenditures or reimbursement for money already spent, and Cole said he hopes to get further information on questions like that. Gobena also asked about financial plans of King County and he hasn’t heard yet, but won’t count on the county until he hears from them.

The biggest expense so far is paying people to work at home and the least likely to be reimbursed, said Cole.

Valley Ridge Park
The city wants to improve Valley Ridge Park by removing natural grass next to the entry way and replacing it with concrete, importing new topsoil, and replacing trees that have been in poor condition since irrigation began. The city also wants to install benches. Money for replacing existing concrete that is currently cracked in many areas of the entryway was included in the bid packet.

Parks, Community Programs and Services Director Lawrence says the improvements will enhance the entry way of the park that hosts numerous sporting events and state-wide tournaments.

The bid was $199,353 from Judha of Lion Landscaping, and was accepted unanimously by the Council.

City Engineer Florendo Cabudol told Council he is seeking approval of an ordinance adopting a “Complete Streets Policy,” an approach to the design and implementation of transportation projects in the City of SeaTac, or making the street more accessible to all forms of use. There measure was approved unanimously in a voice vote.

Proclamations, New Employees
Mayor Erin Sitterley introduced three proclamations, Sexual Assault Awareness; Against Discrimination During the COVID-19 Pandemic; and National Military Appreciation Month.

The mayor also introduced new city employees: facility maintenance worker Tom Akins; custodian Dan Moss; senior permit coordinator Damon Sims, economic development strategist Tanja Carter; accounting technician Jaime Mecklenburg and human resources director Mei Barker.