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Salary Commission deadline extended and C3 awarded contract to disperse COVID relief

By Katrina Kukhar | Lynnwood Times Staff

On July 6, the Lynnwood City Council held a short special business meeting to vote on extending the Salary Commission deadline to complete its analysis and awarding a contract to Communities of Color Coalition (C3), a non-profit organization, for the disbursement of $200,000 in relief funds to Lynnwood residents.

During the meeting, Council Vice President Shannon Sessions proposed a motion to approve the Salary Commission’s request for an extension of time. This request came from Salary Commission Chair Michele McGraw, after the council members and Mayor Nicola Smith voted unanimously not to increase salaries for 2021-2022. 

In the letter, the salary commission requested a time extension to complete their work past April 30 since the commission was not able to meet and was even forbidden to meet due to COVID-19 restrictions. The time extension would allow for public comment and two public hearings that would go into effective immediately and continued through November 30, 2020.

Several of the council members voiced their objection to giving the Salary Commission an extension.

 “I don’t see a reason for this salary commission to meet again until 2 years from now when they can start looking at another biennium,” Councilman George Hurst said.  

“The letter has been signed unanimously by the council members and the mayor. We indicated that we did not want to have any pay increases for any elected officials,” Councilman Jim Smith mentioned.

Smith continued, “There doesn’t seem to be any reason to extend this unless we’re sending mixed messages saying well ‘you’ve got the opportunity to increase salaries’ which would not be prudent especially after we just had a large somewhat controversial time and discussion about not giving tax relief to our citizens because we couldn’t afford it.”

Councilman Ian Cotton criticized that approving the extension would send an unclear message because the council previously informed the commission of not wanting salary increases. Cotton stated that the commission can meet in January of 2022 to complete the remainder of its work.

“Doesn’t seem like work that wouldn’t just go on a shelf and have to be redone in two years anyway,” said Cotton.

In support of the motion, Council President Christine Frizzell claimed that it is not costing the city any money to allow the commission to continue with their work, which the commission could build upon in 2 years.

Councilman Smith countered, “If we allow the extension, even with our unanimous letter to not increase the salaries, they could do it anyway if they decided that that’s what they wanted to do.”

“This is a situation where we may be wasting people’s time to discuss things right now,” added Councilman Hurst. 

Evan Chinn, Human Resources Director for the city of Lynnwood, noted that because the commission is independent, they should have the freedom to meet without restrictions from the council.

“I don’t see a huge downside in allowing them to meet. Their work can be used this year, possibly next year.”

“If they want to meet, let them,” said Council Vice President Sessions. “We’ve already signed the letter, they know what we would like. It’s very unlikely they would go against that.”

The motion passed 4-3 to extend the Salary Commission deadline for it to complete its analysis.

Councilmembers Frizzell, Sessions, Ross and Altamirano-Crosby voted for the motion whereas, Cotton, Smith, and Hurst voted against.

In other council business, the City of Lynnwood is set up to receive $1.88 million from the federal CARES Act to address economic issues related to COVID-19.

On June 8, the Council approved $200,000 of the CARES Act funding into a Community Relief Program for economic relief during the pandemic. These funds would be directed primarily for rent relief during the housing crisis.

The workgroup created to oversee the distribution of funds, recommended Communities of Color Coalition (C3), a non-profit organization, to manage the disbursement of relief funds to Lynnwood residents through October 31, 2020. According to the contract, C3 shall limit its administrative costs to no more than 2% of the awarded grant amounts. C3 was competing with two other companies for the contract.

“I think this will be a great asset to some very deserving people in our community that are having a really rough time,” Council President Frizzell said.

During the roll call, Councilmember Altamarino-Crosby recused herself from the Community Relief Fund vote because of her position on the C3 Board.

The council unanimously voted (6-0) to award Communities of Color Coalition the contract to manage the disbursement of relief funds on behalf of the city of Lynnwood.

For the salary commission request letter and community relief funding contract award, click here.

To watch the entire special business meeting click the link below:

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