MUKILTEO, Wash., September 28, 2021 – Since the Mukilteo City Council returned to virtual meetings September 20 following a September 10 recommendation from the Health District to “consider delaying or moving non-essential events and meetings to a virtual format,” the council returned to discuss the future of remote meetings, at their Special Meeting on September 27. In attendance were all council members except council member Joe Marine, who notified the council he would be absent and was excused.
Addressing the many public comments at the September 20 meeting concerning proper notice of the switch from in-person to virtual, Council President Sarah Kneller brought up that she would be open to discussing, with council, putting policies in place on how and when to announce switching to virtual meetings.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crawford added that the council can get into a “rhythm” of meeting in-person or get into a “rhythm” of meeting virtual, but the switch from in-person to virtual disrupts this rhythm. Crawford shared that she would be comfortable giving the decision to the President or the Vice President to make on when to have virtual or in-person meetings but Gregerson added that the responsibility relies on the Mayor.
Council member Richard Emery added that his preference is in-person meetings but having the ability to attend remotely allows council members more flexibility to attend, particularly when on vacation or out of town.
“The ability to meet remotely via phone has been a staple of the council for decades,” Emery said. “I support the idea of council being able to attend remotely.”
Council President Kneller added that when new hardware and software is installed in Council Chamber, she would love to see hybrid meetings be offered.
“I think it would be smart future proofing for the city to be able to accommodate any configuration without it being cumbersome to the productivity of the meeting,” Kneller said. “I would advocate that designing with the end in mind that we would be able to run hybrid meetings.”
Residents of Mukilteo had the opportunity to share their thoughts which were almost evenly divided, both sides recognizing the pros and cons to both virtual and in-person formats.
“I think it’s good when council is in-person with exceptions. I hope that you continue to allow the public to speak via zoom,” Sharon Damoff, Mukilteo resident, said.
“Try to keep things remote as long as you can at least until Public Health says it’s ok, because they know the science, they know what’s safe,” Joe Kunzler, said who also advocated for a hybrid a meeting format.
“I am strongly in favor of in-person meetings,” Charlie Pancerewski, Mukilteo resident said, who added that having the ability to see facial reactions, city presentations, and being able to talk to meeting attendees are all benefits to in-person meetings.
Ultimately Mayor Gregerson shared that the discussion on whether to maintain remote meetings, return in-person, or possible hybrid options for the future would be later discussed at future meetings.
Capital Improvement Plan
Council also returned to review the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Shawn Hunstock, Finance Director, led the discussion on the 2022-2027 CIP previously reviewed on August 19, September 7, and most recently September 16.
The Growth Management Act requires local jurisdiction to include a Capital Facilities Element (RCW 36.70A.070), one of them being at least a six year plan that will finance such capital facilities within projected funding capacities and clearly identifies sources of public money for such purposes.
For the city of Mukilteo, capital facilities primarily include transportation, surface water, parks, and City building facilities (e.g. Police Station, Fire Stations, City Hall, Rosehill Community Center). Other capital facilities (e.g. sewer, water, schools) are provided by other public agencies and are not included in the City of Mukilteo’s six-year CIP.
“If the city is looking for feedback, I’m going to be consistent with the feedback I’ve given; we need to include all of the physical structures, we need to be looking at moving towards a smart city in the future, and we need to include our information technology both the hardware and software. Those are capital assets that we need to be watching, and monitoring, and updating to stay abreast of the needs of the citizens as we move toward the future,” Councilman Champion said.
Elizabeth Crawford questioned if $500 a year would be sufficient to maintain the dirt bike jump course and if the amount was based off any data. Jeff Price, Recreation and Cultural Service Director, responded that the maintenance for a dirt bike course is relatively simple and cost-efficient and that the data they are using for that $500 a year number is based off similar cities, like Kirkland, that have a similar park.
“I would hate for us to have a situation like the dog park where we now have to invest a lot more money than anticipated – being proactive and taking lessons learned and applying them to this new project would be great,” Crawford said.
Additional Council discussion, a public hearing, and adoption of the CIP is currently scheduled for November 8.