Mukilteo City Council updates criminal code, budget discussion resumes
MUKILTEO, Wash., October 22, 2021 – City Council approved an update on its criminal code, ordinance 1454, and furthered their discussion on the City’s budget and Property and Emergency Medical Service Tax levies at its Regular Business meeting Monday, October 18. All council members were in attendance aside from councilwoman Elizabeth Crawford.
The passed update to the City’s criminal code, which aims to incorporate and adopt all sections of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) that constitute misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor criminal behavior by reference, was put on the table for a vote during the consent agenda at the beginning of the meeting. This ordinance will allow the city of Mukilteo to enforce these RCW sections through its Police Department and its prosecuting attorney, all in the same manner as the statute may be enforced or prosecuted in the name of the state.
Felony level crimes are prosecuted by the County’s Prosecutor Office, but misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor crimes are handled by the City’s contract municipal prosecutor. After several state legislative changes modified many felony level crimes to misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses, the city was required to update its current municipal code to grant the City Prosecutor the ability to charge for these cases.
The ordinance was motioned by Council President Sarah Kneller to approve, seconded by Councilman Richard Emery who offered an amendment that there be a provided revision by June 2022, based off its effectiveness.
The motion, as amended, passed 5-1 with Council Vice President Bob Champion voting against.
2022 Mukilteo Budget Items
Shawn Hunstock, Finance Director for the city of Mukilteo, continued with his presentation on the City’s budget, which he last addressed at council’s October 4 meeting covering finance, fire (including EMS), planning and community development, and recreation. He returned to council to continue this discussion with regards to non-department (budgets not assigned to a specific department such as facility maintenance), executive, police, public works, capital projects, surface water, equipment replacement, and facility renewal.
- Non-Department items discussed included:
- Facility Maintenance Charges: $672,846
- SNO911 Dispatch Services: $608,290
- Equipment Replacement Charges: $531,000
- Property and General Liability Insurance: $323,305
- Technology Replacement: $103,000
- Facility Renewal: $194,300
- Street Funds: $385,374
- Capitol Project Funds: $5,556
Police Chief Cheol Kang answered questions from council concerning the police budget, including projected amounts for staffing and the types of services that could be included in the allocated budget.
The Mukilteo Police Department requested funds for an additional one patrol officer for a total of 37 full-time employees – 21 Patrol officers, eight Administration and Support Service, five Special Operations, and three Community Service personnel. In addition the department requested budgeting for a $5,000 increase to the Victim Coordinator Contract, $10,000 for scenario-based training, and the replacement of three vehicles.
Councilman Harris expressed concerns about preparing for growth within Mukilteo by suggesting an additional patrol officer to prevent the city from being a “target for crime” and asked Chief Kang if the City was prepared to budget for an additional two officers. Kang stated it seemed reasonable to bring on an additional two patrol officers.
Public Works Director Andrea Swisstack led a presentation on Public Works for equipment and vehicle replacements.
The Public Works budget items discussed included:
- $45,000 on updating the transportation element of the comprehensive plan
- $10,000 for landscaping and tree planting for city parks
- $16,000 for city flower basket program
- $22,000 on dog park maintenance
- $30,000 to improve landscape maintenance along SR525 and SR526
- $766,346 for Stormwater consulting services
After council had the opportunity to ask the presenters questions, Joe Marine motioned to continue the Public Hearing on these Budget Items until November 1, seconded by Councilman Louis Harris which passed by all members aside from Council President Sarah Kneller who did not return from break for the last hour of the meeting.
The council has until November 15 to adopt a final budget.
Mukilteo Budget Property Tax Levy Proposal
Following the discussion on budget, Finance Director Hunstock returned to council to discuss a proposed resolution, 2021-09, that would establish a property tax assessment for the City’s needs in their 2022 budget. The resolution would involve a 1% increase to property tax, equating to an average household impact of $5.96 per year per average home, assessed at $599,600.
As explained in the agenda, the Snohomish County Assessor’s Office has estimated the assessed valuation of all taxable property within the City of Mukilteo to total $6,038,073,338 which includes $13,468,800 for new construction added during 2021.
Joe Marine voiced frustration on the levy expressing that property taxes should not be raised, even by 1%. Councilman Khan agreed with Marine’s point. Council Vice President Bob Champion asked Hunstock if there were plans of forming a contingency plan if council did not agree to vote on the $6 per household per year tax but Hunstock replied there was not.
The 1% raise would grant the city $57,000 more in revenue, Hunstock explained.
“I can’t in good conscious, after what our citizens went through in COVID, support this,” Marine said.
Eventually Councilman Marine motioned to move the Public Hearing on the property tax levy to November 15, seconded by Council Vice President Champion. The motion passed unanimously aside from Kneller who remained absent following break until the meeting was adjourned.
Mayor Gregerson defended Council President Kneller’s disappearance by explaining she had just flown in from Romania.
During public comments, Mukilteo resident Charlie Pancerewski voiced his opposition to the levy as well as voiced concerns about a city-wide “gun buy-back program” that would buy firearms off Mukilteo residents who no longer wanted them.
“If they want to get rid of them they can certainly do so without receiving any compensation from taxpayers,” Pancerewski said.
Pancerewski added that if the council has the money to buy back guns, then they should not need to increase property tax to balance the budget. He made the point that he did not believe taxpayer’s money should be spent buying unwanted guns and requested that council discuss and vote on this idea.
“Budgets are only as good as the people who prepare them accurately,” Pancerewski said. “There’s nothing really magic about balancing the budget unless you look a little further which I don’t think most people do.”
Mukilteo resident Sharon Damoff agreed with Pancerewski’s points about the gun buy-back program and brought concern to the council about increased car break-ins and prowls within the area.
Following public comments and old business, the meeting was adjourned after a quick birthday shoutout to both Councilman Joe Marine and Councilman Richard Emery, whom celebrated their birthdays Monday.
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