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Council approves IT improvements, PSE contract, and Community Justice and Recovery Centers

Yesterday, the Lynnwood City Council held a business meeting. After nearly two hours of hearing public comment, the council voted to move forward with the Community Justice Center (CJC) and the Community Recovery Center (CRC) proposals. Unfortunately, during the public hearing portion of the meeting, callers spewed threats and racial slurs. Mayor Smith and Council President Hurst condemned these acts in a public statement.

Council Items: IT Improvements and Puget Sound Energy

After public comment, Michelle Meyer gave a presentation recapping council items that have been discussed in past councils. Meyer reiterated the funding requests for items such as body-worn cameras for county sheriff officers and restoring public sector capacity to pre-pandemic levels.

Per the latter item, the council voted on the following motions regarding the American Rescue Plan:

  • Motion to authorize Council Chamber IT improvements not to exceed $150,000 from American Rescue Plan Act funding, authorizing the Mayor to sign any required agreements, and include the expenditure authority in the Mid-biennium amendment. 
  • Motion to fund the following positions for 2022 in an amount not to exceed $656,000 from American Rescue Plan Act funding and include the expenditure authority in the Mid-biennium amendment:  
    • 5.2 Full Time Equivalent positions in Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts 
    • 1 Full Time Police Evidence Officer position in Police 
    • 1 Full Time Legal Specialist I in Municipal Court 
    • 1 Full Time Custodian in Public Works

The first motion passed with a 4-3 vote. The council voted to amend the second motion to read “not to exceed $656,000 from the general fund with a review of city revenues in the Mid-bienniumn amendment,” which amendment passed with a 5-2 vote, with Councilmembers Shannon Session and Christine Frizzell voting against. Then the council passed the amended main motion with a vote of 5-2, with Councilmembers Shannon Session and Ruth Rose voting against.

Next, an ordinance titled “Franchise Agreement with Puget Sound Energy for Operations of Natural Gas Facilities” was passed with a unanimous vote. The ordinance summary reads as follows:

An of the City of Lynnwood, Washington, granting Puget Sound Energy, Inc., a Washington corporation, its successors and assigns, the right, privilege, authority and franchise to set, erect, lay, construct, extend, support, attach, connect, maintain, repair, replace, enlarge, operate and use Facilities in, upon, over, under, along, across and through the Franchise Area to provide for the transmission, distribution and sale of gas for power, heat and light, and any other purposes for which gas may be used.

To read the ordinance in its entirety, click here

Motions for the Community Justice and Recovery Centers

Finally, the council motioned to vote on the construction contract for the CJC — this just after hearing multiple public complaints about the prospect. Before the vote, many council members addressed these concerns.

“I know there’s been a lot of heart-strings that have been concerned tonight, and I want people to know that we recognize that,” council Vice President Jim Smith said.

“I see this, as has been presented by the councilmembers, I see this as being — actually moving in the correct direction; the right direction of having a better facility than we have currently,” he continued.

Councilmember Patrick Decker echoed a similar sentiment, “I would echo what Vice President Smith said — extremely difficult decision. But fact one, for years Lynnwood has been exporting individuals who need to be incarcerated to other communities — not just neighboring communities, but communities far away from Lynnwood,” he said.

Councilman Decker explained how exporting incarcerated individuals takes them further away “from their support systems, away from their families, away from our jurisdiction, and away from a facility over which we have responsibility but also oversight.” 

“By building this facility we can keep those individuals here in Lynnwood, and we can and will hold responsible the individuals who are tasked with their safety and are tasked with ensuring that they are cared for as they ought to be per law and per how a civil society should. This is repairing a lot of unhealthy situations which occurred because of our very old facility. This will benefit the individuals who are required to stay in our facility in a multitude of ways. We have got to update our very old, very inadequate, and completely — in my view—  unacceptable facility we have now,” he concluded. “This is the only way to do it in a realistic time frame.”  

Councilmember Shannon Sessions shared her thoughts as well. She reiterated that the forthcoming CJC has been in the works for multiple years. Then, after stating that it would be irresponsible not to build this new facility given the poor condition of the current one, she said, “It’s the right thing to do to care for those who do find themselves in our jail and the rest of the community.”

After the subsequent comments from members of the council, the contract award for the Community Justice Center passed with a vote of 6-1, with Councilmember Ruth Ross voting against the motion.

One of the final points of interest was the council’s vote regarding the Community Recovery Center resolution, which reads as follows: A resolution of the City of Lynnwood, Washington, to build a Community Recovery Center on the site of the Community Justice Center, as a separate entity, which will serve the growing behavioral health needs of Lynnwood and the South Snohomish County community. 

The resolution passed 6-1, with Councilmember Ruth Ross voting against the motion.

To view the full Zoom business meeting and all the associated resources, visit here.

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