CITY OF UNIVERSITY PLACE
Special Meeting of the City Council
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Fircrest Golf Club, Pebble Beach Room
1500 Regents Boulevard, Fircrest, WA 98466
The Special Meeting was called to order at 8:00 a.m.
Attendance noted as follows: Mayor Belleci, Mayor Pro Tem Worthington, Councilmember Keel, Councilmember Figueroa, Councilmember Pro Tem Lee, Councilmember McCluskey and Councilmember Flemming.
Staff: City Manager Sugg, Executive Director/ACM Craig, Executive Director/ACM Faison, Police Chief Premo, City Attorney Kaser, Public Works, Parks & Facilities Director Cooper, Public Safety Manager Hales, Human Resources Manager Petorak, Engineering and Capital Projects Director Ecklund
Facilitator: Michael Pendleton, Pendleton Consulting, LLC
Mayor Belleci welcomed Council and staff to the meeting and introduced Facilitator Pendleton. Facilitator Pendleton overviewed with Council the retreat ground rules and highlighted the agenda.
ASSIGNMENT OF COUNCIL ROLES
Facilitator Pendleton led Council through a discussion of changes in Council assignments.
Council discussed UPC 1.35.080 on the process for appointment of advisory commissions. There was interest in keeping a rotation for Council members. This item may need further discussion and a code amendment if there is interest in changing the process.
The 25th Anniversary and the Vision Committee will be added, by resolution, to the list of Council committee assignments.
COUNCIL RULES AND NORMS
City Attorney Kaser provided background on three issues in the Council rules.
§ Council excused absences: He asked Council whether they have interest in amending the Council rules to allow the City Clerk to simply announce that a member is excused when the member calls the clerk in advance, without a more complicated process. There was discussion on whether there should be a limit on the number of months of extended absences (such as a medical condition or military deployment) before the appointment of a Councilmember Pro Tem.
§ Quorums/Remote Participation: Council rules do not provide for full participation (including voting) for members participating remotely. There was interest in maintaining the current rule, requiring Council member presence to vote on an issue. The sole exception would be to allow telephone participation in an emergency meeting – allowing remote participation to count for a quorum. There was discussion to limit remote participation to a certain number of times (2-3) per year. There also was interest in investing in video conferencing technology. This issue will be discussed at a future study session.
§ Training/Conference Report Outs: Mayor Belleci said this issue will be discussed in a study session with the other two Council rules issues.
Assistant City Manager Faison provided an update on the City’s finances. He presented an extended long-range forecast – through 2040 – based on the City’s current revenue and expense trends. The long-range forecast showed significant deficits in the City’s General Fund (2032), Public Safety Fund (2030) and Street Fund (2023).
IMPACT OF INITIATIVE 976
§ Litigation Status: City Attorney Kaser provided Council with an update on the legal challenges to the initiative. He projected that the issue would be resolved by the State Supreme Court by the end of the year. In the meantime, we will not spend the money that we receive in case it has to be refunded.
§ Operations Impacts/Options: Public Works & Parks Director Gary Cooper informed Council that the City has cancelled planned pavement maintenance projects for 2020.
§ Community Education and Outreach: Mayor Belleci expressed an interest in educating residents about finances generally and how we were planning to use TBD funds. There was a feeling that we should be cautious about the education piece because we don’t yet know the impact. It was also noted that there is a feeling that the vote on the initiative was against Sound Transit, not against local street projects. Mayor Belleci said we need to tell residents why we have put the pavement maintenance program on hold – given the fact that we told everyone that we were going to start pavement projects with the implementation of the additional $15 fee recently. Council member Keel recommended that we contact AWC and use information that they have developed to help cities communicate. City Manager Sugg stated that staff will come up with a communication plan and calendar.
COMMUNITY VISION SUB-COMMITTEE REPORT
Mayor Pro Tem Worthington provided an update on the work of the Sub-Committee. He thanked Committee members McCluskey and Keel. He highlighted the six FlashVote surveys we’ve conducted in 2019. He noted the increase in users (now 486) and participants (from 171 initially to 325 in this month’s survey).
Overall, people described the quality of life in U.P. as good or excellent. The things people liked best included the natural environment and the small-town feel. Most-commented themes – requests for more retail, parks & recreation and public safety. The Committee assigned the comments for resolution.
Mayor Pro Tem Worthington provided an outline of the Committee’s 2020 work timeline, concluding with a final Imagine 2045 release in December at the Tree Lighting event.
Councilmember McCluskey encouraged Councilmembers to let residents know about FlashVote and our e-Newsletter.
Mayor Belleci suggested that we do a newsletter article providing the public with a FlashVote update.
EVENTS, COMMUNITY & FACILITIES USAGE POLICIES
City Attorney Kaser provided Council with a briefing on the legal restrictions related to use of City facilities and communication methods by City friends and partners. He noted that we have policies that are outdated, and we have different facilities than when some of the policies were adopted.
§ Events: The last events resolution was in 2014. In the last few years we have added a number of events. We don’t need a new events resolution. However, there are a number of events that we support with local community partners.
§ Communications: Our communications policy goes back to 2008. The policy needs to be amended to reflect our new methods of communication (e.g., we no longer have a written newsletter or community bulletin board) or repealed. More importantly, we cannot provide support for particular groups. The law requires that we be content and party neutral.
§ Facilities Usage: The facility policy was adopted in 2003. The policy covered the Senior Center, which is now leased to Community Connection Place. It is no longer a City-controlled asset. The second facility covered by the resolution is the Town Hall meeting room. The building has been demolished. Are there other facilities that we want to include in the policy, such as the Gallery?
The Adriana Hess House lease has a provision that allows the City to schedule the meeting room with quarterly notice. The Atrium is co-owned with the Library District. The agreement with the Library does not include a provision allowing use by third parties. The outdoor facilities are on a first-come/first-served basis. We allow reservation through a special event permit.
City Attorney Kaser explained how some of these issues might be resolved through co-sponsorship. He provided a look at some of the criterion that might be established for co-sponsorships. The key difference between what we are doing now and what is proposed is to focus on supporting an event, rather than a group. The group would not be able to charge a fee to attend an event in our facility.
In summary, the Council concluded:
§ There was interest in co-sponsoring events – not focusing on groups.
§ There was concern about renting out the Gallery. The Council decided that there will be a study session soon discussing how the Gallery will be used until the City is able to lease it to a tenant.
§ There was consensus in assigning to the Parks Commission a study of park rentals.
§ There was consensus to re-write the communication policy to bring it in line with the law as outlined by City Attorney Kaser.
City Manager Sugg provided a brief background, reminding the Council that Public Safety was included as one of the Council’s 2019-2020 Goals. He noted that there has been an uptick in violent crime, and there is an increased level of concern in the community, despite the fact that the City is safe overall. He reminded Council that we will have a Public Safety Forum with the community next month in the Gallery.
Chief Premo provided the Council with a personal introduction and discussed Community Policing, Community Engagement and Information and Public Safety Classes/National Night Out.
He then provided background information on the City’s police department. The briefing included information on:
§ the Department’s policing philosophy,
§ the Police Department’s organizational structure,
§ the City’s contract with Pierce County,
§ statistics on calls for service and crime, and
§ staffing and operations.
Chief Premo emphasized that the character/culture of the Department is different than that which exists in the broader Sheriff’s Department. There is more of a community focus and the ability to follow up with cases – something that is not always possible in a County detachment.
Chief Premo explained the increase in the violent crime rate and the decrease in the property crime rate.
The Council discussed next steps to address public safety concerns and public safety staffing.
§ Councilmember Figueroa: He expressed concerns about the overall status of the major categories within our budget (General Fund, Public Safety Fund and Street Fund). He believes that we need to address our current budget before adding new staff. He believes the community might want more police, but he doesn’t believe that there is voter support to increase taxes. He also has concerns about the fact that, as a city government, we will not be able to proactively support a levy. We might have to reduce staffing to pay for police.
§ Councilmember Keel: He believes that we need to talk about addressing the concerns of our residents. He believes that conversations with residents could lead to a new levy to support additional staffing.
§ Mayor Pro Tem Worthington: He expressed appreciation for the information, and he felt that there is a lot of information to share with the community. He found this significant increase in the police budget daunting. He noted other concerns by residents, as shown in the FlashVote results. He thinks we might want to check the temperature of residents, but he’s not sure if the community is ready to provide new resources. We need to have an education campaign to ensure that we have a realistic shot at a successful outcome. We will need to use social media. He’s not interested in rushing to the ballot.
§ Councilmember McCluskey: She believes that we should go out for a levy for new funding. But she is concerned about sending this issue to voters but failing. She believes that going out to the community and providing information (voter education) is critical. She suggested interactive exercises. We need a strategy before going for a levy. People need to feel like they are going to get something out of this. Simply educating people about the City’s finances will not be convincing. She also suggested that the police guild should be helpful.
§ Councilmember Pro Tem Lee: He noted that he was the point of contact for the last levy for public safety. He believes that the feeling in the community regarding public safety is different now than then – some feel that the City is less safe. He emphasized that voter education is critical. We will need more money and more volunteer staffing to succeed, which the City can’t participate in. He believes the levy is the only way to go, but we need to start now to be successful.
§ Mayor Belleci: She is in favor of getting our police force up in staffing to where it was before the cut. We need to start the education process – the Chief’s upcoming community meeting is a good start. She does not believe that the community is unsafe. We need to educate the public that police do not prevent all crimes and do not solve all crimes. In conjunction with the education piece, we should educate the community about what they can do on their own to make the community safer.
§ Councilmember Flemming: He complimented the Chief on his presentation. Perceptions are reality, regardless of what the statistics say. He agrees that we have to get back to the staffing level that we had before the cuts. He believes the issue is an education campaign to get buy in. He wants the initiative should be from the public giving us direction to do a levy, rather than the Council saying we need a levy.
§ City Manager Sugg: There is a lot to follow up on. We’ve had a good, strong start to the year. The meeting reflected to preparation. We will decipher our notes and discuss with Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem the scheduling of various necessary meetings.
§ Assistant City Manager Faison: He provided Council with information on the sustainability of the City’s public safety funding and options for maintaining existing staffing and increasing staffing. Continuing to maintain existing Police Department staffing (2 officers on duty per shift) would require voter approval of a property tax increase of $95 a year in 2020, up to $150 a year if the vote was delayed until 2028. Increasing staffing (to 3 officers on duty per shift) would require voter approval of a property tax increase of $252 a year in 2020. The City does not have enough levy authority to fund 3 officers per shift if the City delays the levy until 2024 or 2028.
§ Chief Premo: He talked about the upcoming community forum. He suggested FlashVote might be a good source of info on the community’s view on public safety. He liked the idea of having a consultant to assist with the education piece.
Next Steps: We need to have additional discussion on getting a consultant to assist with public education – particularly look at consultants with experience with police. Also, provide the Council with more information on revenue potential for alternative dates.
ADJOURNMENT - The meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m. No other action was taken.
Executive Director/Assistant City Manager