The Auburn City Council held their regular council meeting on Tuesday, February 18th. It was held on Tuesday because of the President’s Day holiday on Monday. The meeting was called to order at 7:00pm. Councilmember Yolanda Trout-Manuel was excused from the meeting.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, PROCLAMATIONS, AND PRESENTATIONS
The first item on the agenda was an update on House Bill 2907. HB2907 has to do with a payroll tax for businesses that have employees who make more than $150,000 a year. This bill only applies to counties with populations over 2 million. The bill proposes that the collected taxes would be directed to combat the homeless epidemic in King County.
Mayor Nancy Backus raised that the City of Auburn, as well as other South King County cities, were not consulted before this bill was introduced. According to Backus, relevant organizations in the Puget Sound had also not been consulted on the bill.
Backus expressed concern, which the council agreed with, that the bill was moving too quickly in OIympia. A concern raised by Deputy Mayor Claude DaCorsi was that businesses considering Auburn may move just south of the city into Pierce County, where the payroll tax would not impact their company. The tax may additionally cause some businesses to move from the region. (Watch here)
City Council unanimously appointed Tammy Dwight to the Arts Commission. This is a three-year term. (Watch Here)
CITIZEN INPUT, PUBLIC HEARINGS AND CORRESPONDENCE
There were two Public Hearings on the agenda. The first hearing was for Franchise Agreement FRN19-0006 for Tacoma Waters. The second was for modifications to the 2020-2025 Transportation Improvement Plan. This modification adds or modifies projects due to changes in funding availability. The new funding is recently awarded grants. No one spoke at either hearing. (Watch Here)
After the Public Hearings was the Audience Participation section of the agenda. One resident spoke to the council regarding concerns related to today’s students, teaching methods and the city “not using critical thinking.” Note: The City of Auburn and the Auburn School District are two separate entities. Concerns about Auburn’s public schools should be addressed with the Auburn School District. (Watch Here)
COUNCIL AD HOC COMMITTEE REPORTS
After audience participation was the report from the finance committee. This report detailed Claims Vouchers totaling $7,729,937.57 and Payroll Vouchers totaling $2,361,423.56. (Watch Here)
All matters listed on the Consent Agenda are considered by the City Council to be routine and will be enacted by one motion in the form listed
Council then moved to the Consent Agenda. This meeting’s consent agenda included the Minutes of the February 3rd Regular and Special City Council Meetings, the Payroll Vouchers, and the Claims Vouchers. It passed 6-0. (Watch Here)
There was no old or new business for the council. The council then moved to ordinances. Ordinance No. 6756 was first on the agenda for a vote. This ordinance creates a new section of City of Auburn code that, according to the agenda bill form, “would allow City Prosecutors to file misdemeanor charges against a suspect who assaults a City Police Officer, Code Enforcement Officer, Parking Enforcement Officer, or Animal Control Officer.”
Councilmember Chris Stearns motioned this ordinance. Councilmember Larry Brown seconded it. There were no questions or comments. It passed 6-0. (Watch Here)
“If an officer is assaulted it has to be filed as a felony,” explained Auburn Police Chief Dan O’Neil. “If the assault isn’t serious enough to meet the county filing guidelines then district court is only left with two options. The first option is to charge it as an Attempted Assault Three, which doesn’t really fit since an assault wasn’t attempted – it actually occurred. The other option is to charge it as an Assault Four. This doesn’t get reported as an assault on an officer which could be important to know for various reasons in the future. One of those reasons could be if they assault an officer again in the future.”
“I think there are inconsistencies in how charges are filed for assaulting an officer,” stated O’Neil. “I was assaulted as an officer almost ten years ago and still have a significant scar from the assault. The suspect was only charged with Assault Four, a misdemeanor. I have seen other minor assaults get charged as felonies. I think it is reasonable to charge some assaults as misdemeanors instead of felonies based on the totality of the circumstances, but I think there need to be consistencies in charging decisions.”
The new city code applies not just to police officers, but also noncommissioned parking enforcement and animal control officers. This new code also applies to Code Enforcement Officers, who are not under the umbrella of the police department. Washington State protects other professions against assault. Currently assaulting a medical professional, transit operator, judicial officer, firefighter, or school bus driver is Assault in the Third degree, which is a class C felony.
Next was Ordinance No. 6760 which establishes the new Sales and Use tax credit for the city, as provided by SB 5045. This is a sales tax credit, not a new sales tax, as provided by the state for the city to assist with public improvements and revitalizations throughout Auburn. The state requires cities to request the credit each year with a new ordinance.
Councilmember Bob Baggett motioned this ordinance. Councilmember Robyn Mulenga seconded it. There were no questions or comments. It passes 6-0. (Watch Here)
Next, the Council moved to Resolutions. The first Resolution on the agenda was Resolution No. 5498, allowing the city to transfer funds from the general or cumulative fund for loans, sustained by grants, fees, and tax credits through 2023. Councilmember motioned this resolution, with CM Baggett, with Councilmember James Jeyaraj seconding. There were no questions or comments. The resolution passed 6-0. (Watch Here)
Next was Resolution No. 5499, which amends the interlocal agreement to permit Des Moines to become an active participating member of the Valley SWAT Team. Resolution No. 5499 was motioned by CM Brown and seconded by CM Stearns. There were no questions or comments. The resolution passed 6-0. (Watch Here)
“I think this is a great benefit for the citizens of Des Moines who now have SWAT services provided by members of their own police department,” said O’Neil. “Adding Officers from Des Moines also increases the size of Valley SWAT and provides more officers and resources to the rest of the valley. I think it’s a great benefit anytime you can increase regional resources.”
The last Resolution was Resolution No. 5501 which makes modifications to the 2020-2025 Transportation Improvement Plan. This resolution was motioned by CM Brown and seconded by CM Mulenga. There were no questions or comments. The resolution passed 6-0.
MAYOR AND COUNCILMEMBER REPORTS
Last was Mayor and Council reports. First was DM DaCorsi and he talked about the Puget Sound Regional Council meeting he recently attended. He shared about the work they did and the discussions they had there about HB 2907.
Next was CM Mulenga who talked about the Sound Cities Association Committee she was recently appointed to. Next was CM Stearns. He talked about an affordable housing session he attended in Renton and what they are working on there. CM Brown then talked about his recent appointment by the mayor to the VRFA board.
CM Jeyaraj talked about the Sound Cities Association meeting he attended and how they were all shocked about how quickly HB 2907 was moving.
Mayor Backus wrapped up the reports. She talked about the Leadership Institute of Puget Sound and how six Auburn staff are there. She also talked about the Pack the Gym event at Auburn High School where Auburn Unified and Kent Unified special needs basketball teams played each other, Auburn won 48-43. She then spoke about town halls coming up for Senator Claire Wilson (D-30th LD) and Senator Mona Das (D-47th LD). Senator Wilson’s Town Hall is on Saturday the 22nd at Alpac Elementary in Pacific, it starts at 10am. Senator Das’ Town Hall is at 1pm on Sunday the 23rd at Green River College. Mayor Backus closed with saying the finance team is going to be receiving an award for their financial reporting. (Watch Here)
With no need for an executive session, the meeting was adjourned.
The next Auburn city council study session is scheduled for Monday, February 24th at 5:30pm. Meetings are held at City Hall in the Council Chambers. If you are unable to make it in person you can watch live on Comcast channel 21, or watch the livestream on the City of Auburn’s YouTube channel, WatchAuburn.
Is there something you’d like to know more about from this meeting, or that you haven’t seen covered yet? Send us an email at [email protected] and we’ll do our best to find out for you!