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Rosehill budget, HAP ballot committee members appointed

Mukilteo, Wash., August 4, 2021 – After much confusion amongst the councilmembers, Mukilteo City Council approved the $30,000 reopening budget for Rosehill Community Center at its Monday business meeting. The Council also approved and appointed members to the pro/con committee for the Housing Advisory Measure.

The City Council began the meeting with Police Chief Cheol Kang introducing two new police officers, Isaac Messenger and Cooper Ponti, in an Oath of Office ceremony. The officers were sworn in to the Mukilteo Police Department after completing the police academy last month. 

The Rosehill Reopening Funding Request

Recreation and Cultural Services Director Jeff Price requested $30,000 to fully reopen Rosehill from September to the end of the year. The budget would cover the costs of rehiring four part-time employees who were laid off during the COVID-19 lockdowns a few months after Rosehill’s closure.

Price expressed Rosehill’s four-part commitment throughout its reopening, which include social equity and inclusion, improving marketing and promotions, increasing customer service and relations, and further developing best resource management practices. 

“As a public entity we want to ensure that everyone, regardless of their background to ability to pay, can get in and participate in recreational programs at Rosehill,” Price said when explaining how the funding will help reach its goals of social equity.

Price explained that Rosehil’s goals throughout the COVID lockdowns were to renew its focus on events that bring in revenue to offset general costs and to reach goals that were set in a 2020 council meeting. The new funding would go towards rehiring staff, allowing the center to once again offer more free services to the community.

Confusion over the Rosehill Funding Request

Councilmember Elizabeth Crawford was the first to express confusion over the funding, explaining that she understood the 2020 City Council meeting had already determined and approved the Rosehill budget. 

Both Price and Mayor Jennifer Gregerson agreed that the 2020 council meeting agreed upon reopening parameters for Rosehill. In that meeting, the council voted to set revenue targets based upon projections. If those targets were met, council could revisit the Rosehill budget and rehire its laid off employees. But because Rosehill did not meet the revenue targets, they delayed rehiring staff. 

Councilmember Bob Champion thanked Crawford for expressing her confusion, adding himself, “I am totally confused.” The conversation shifted from the issue of the Rosehill budget to the miscommunication amongst the council. 

“If we have totally miscommunicated, where at least two council members have said that they are confused, how do we, in the future, eliminate that confusion? If the council was under the impression that the budget for what was described as a set of activities, and the management of those activities was different, then we come with a disconnect where we have to make  budgetary adjustment,” Champion said. 

Responses to the Rosehill Funding Request

Council members expressed concern about the funding, as new COVID restrictions are being considered nation-wide as a result of the Delta variant. When asked what his plan would be in the event of additional COVID restrictions, Price explained he would react the same way that was done previously. 

Marine questioned if staff would again be kept months after closures, saying that “at the end of the day, we are responsible for the taxpayers dollars.” 

The mayor responded that if the building were to close again, they would cut “as many expenses as possible, and that includes people.”

One Mukilteo resident representing the Jericho Bridge Church and the Mukilteo Community Orchestra expressed his support of the $30,000 funding for the Rosehill center. He explained that the church regularly provides free events at the Rosehill center which have been halted as a result of the closures. 

“Our church services start at 10 a.m. Currently, Rosehill opens at noon on sunday, and currently that just doesn’t meet our needs. So we’re kind of stuck. We’ve been not having live services for over a year, and we’re looking forward to resuming that as soon as possible,” he said. 

“The bottom line is that there’s no other facility in Mukilteo that can host what we’d need other than Rosehill, and we hope that you’ll support this $30,000,” he added. 

Another citizen expressed concern about how the total costs of Rosehill have not been disclosed to the public, nor has the complete annual budget been revealed other than the $30,000. “I think you’re going to find out that Rosehill is costing the city a lot more than what you’ve been discussing.”

Councilmember Richard Emery motioned to authorize the Rosehill budget request to employ part-time staff to fully reopen the Rosehill center. The motion was seconded by Champion and carried out unanimously. 

Members appointed to the Housing Advisory Measure Resolution Pro/Con committees

In a previous meeting, council approved the request to advertise seats on the pro/con committees for the Housing Advisory Ballot. Two candidates applied for the pro committee and 11 for the con committee. 

Because three seats are available for each side, Councilmembers Harris and Crawford suggested only two seats be given for each side for a more balanced approach. Councilmember Marine expressed opposition to balancing the committee. 

“I have no desire to make it two and two. If the pro side can’t get three people, that’s fine. I think it’s indicative of what we’ve seen the whole time, which is most people were on the con side, and we could barely find anyone to support it, and this is no different,” Marine said.

Council also discussed the language surrounding the ballot itself, which is under the discretion of the city attorney. Council wanted to ensure that the language of the ballot led citizens to answer about their support of a high-density housing, but they believed the language may lead citizens to answer about their support of the advisory ballot itself. 

Another resident, Charlie Pancerzewski, also expressed concern over the language in the ballot, saying, “Every voter will interpret it in a different way.” He also added that “this is a totally inappropriate use of an advisory vote,” explaining that under the Growth Management Act, public participation programs must “provide opportunities for written comment, public meeting, and open discussion. An advisory vote offers none of these, and in fact, voters have no information to look at to inform them.” 

After public comments, Marine motioned to appoint Glen Pickus and Chris Collier to the Pro committee and appoint Boris Zaretsky, Paul Marshall and Sharon Damoff to the Con Committee. The motion was seconded by Champion. The motion passed 6-0 with Emery’s abstention. 

Other items on the agenda

Special presentation on the Port of Everett projects

Lisa Lefevers presented a report on the Port of Everett, in which she discussed the Mukilteo Waterfront projects as well as the NOAA Science Center which is no longer moving forward.

Her report discussed other proposed changes to the Port of Everett, including: 

  • a new parklet concept at the ferry landing
  • an aquarium with a research institute with satellite facilities
  • a shipyard to support military operations
  • a nature trail at the Baywood property
  • a new 353-acre salmon habitat at the Blue Heron Slough on the Snohomish river

Council approves the Transportation Improvement Board grant application

Council Vice President Champion motioned to authorize staff to apply for the Transportation Improvements Board (TIB) grant to complete the sidewalks on Second street from Mukilteo to Loveland. The application requests a $2 million state-funded grant. However, even if the application is accepted, the grant requires that the city match 20% of the funding, meaning that the city of Mukilteo would be responsible for $400,000 of the project. 

The application is due August 13 and staff would know if funds are awarded in late November. If approved, the funds would become available in January 2022, and construction would begin early in the year. 

Councilmember Joe Marine seconded the motion and no council members opposed.

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