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Mukilteo approves ARPA funds for police body cams, software and Chamber improvements, and utility assistance

MUKILTEO, Wash., October 26, 2021 – Mukilteo City Council passed four new uses for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds at their Special Meeting October 26, which includes Enterprise Resource Planning software upgrades, police body cameras, audio and visual upgrades to the council chamber, and utility assistance for Mukilteo residents with outstanding balances.

Enterprise Resource Planning Software Update

Finance Director Shawn Hunstock presented council with proposed resolution 2021-12 which will authorize City staff to initiate the Request for Proposal for replacement of the City’s Enterprise Resource Planning Software subject to council approval of a successful bidder at a later date. The total cost is estimated to be within $450,000 and $500,000 of ARPA funds, depending on which software is chosen and whether an implementation consultant is needed.

The City currently uses EDEN Financial Systems from Tyler Technologies for general ledger accounting, payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, grant accounting, fixed assets, job costing, financial reporting, cashiering, and some human resource functions. However, Tyler Technologies no longer sells EDEN to new customers and no longer invests in improvements to the software other than security updates and software patches.

Council Vice President Bob Champion motioned to approve Resolution 2021-12 authorizing staff to initiate the request for the proposal process for replacement of the City’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software with ARPA funding, seconded by councilman Joe Marine. The motion passed unanimously by the council.

The City will now utilize ARPA funds to reach out to known municipal finance software providers to solicit proposals.

In addition, depending on the successful bidder, staff may recommend implementing consultant implementation assistance to ensure RFP goals and objectives are met, identify future needs of the city, detecting process optimization, and defining requirements to ensure proper design.

Police Body Cameras

Chief Cheol Kang spoke on Resolution 2012-13 authorizing the use of ARPA funds to initiate a police department body camera program utilizing $65,000 for cameras and $300,000 for the $100,000/year salary of a new Public Safety Network Engineer position. After 2024, the salary of this new position would require approval from council to be implemented in the City’s budget as part of its general funds.

The $65,000 will cover the cost of 30 cameras (one assigned to each commissioned police officer and onsite spare) and a five-year warranty. The additional onsite camera would be available in the case of any malfunctioned device, to be assigned immediately, while the malfunctioned camera can be sent back and returned within 24 hours under the warranty.

The Public Safety Network Engineer would be in charge of record management; viewing, and possibly redacting video footage. As Kang noted, for every one minute of video footage takes possibly three minutes reviewing by a staff member.

Kang supported the request with the points that the cameras would promote public trust by providing objectivity that cannot exist in just witness and police reports alone, meet legislative requirements adhering to the passing of HB1223 which goes into effect Jan 1, and provide independent evidence and documentation.

Axon is the company and program the Police Department has chosen which provides 360-degree, unlimited AXON data storage, and signal activation which would trigger the camera automatically whenever a sidearm was withdrawn or taser turned on.

After a long discussion from council and public comments, which were unanimously in approval, councilman Louis Harris motioned to approve Resolution 2021-13 with the addition of the language noting the approved funding would continue supporting the new staff member until 2024, seconded by councilman Marine. The vote passed unanimously.

“I think this not only keeps the officers safe, but the citizens as well. It’s just unfortunate that it’s taken this long…You really can’t do wrong with more transparency,” Marine added.

Council Chamber Audio Visual Upgrade

Finance Director Hunstock returned to lead the discussion on dedicating $148,924 of ARPA funds to go toward audio/visual upgrades in Council Chambers.

The funding will go toward contracting Avidex Industries LLC, the lowest bidder, to design, develop, and install upgraded audio, visual, and sound system equipment in the Council Chambers.

Council Vice President Bob Champion motioned to approve the consultant agreement and Resolution 2021-14 allowing the use of ARPA funds for these improvements. The motion was seconded by Councilman Riaz Khan and passed unanimously by the council.

“I think this is sorely needed. I look forward to sitting in the audience and hopefully hearing future councils clearly,” Champion said.

These funds will be dedicated to supporting the following upgrades to chamber’s video/audio capabilities:

  • Improved video display and recording capabilities
  • Improved audio capabilities
  • Improved reliability and energy efficiency
  • Install and implement designed audio, video, and sound system solution into the existing City Council Chambers
  • Improve ease of use for the City Clerk and Meeting Chair
  • Integration and ease of use with streaming and archival software

There were no public comments.

Utility Assistance Funding

City Administrator Steve Powers led the discussion on providing utility assistance to Mukilteo residents and businesses, a topic previously discussed at council’s August 16 and September 20 meetings.

On the September 20 meeting, council granted preliminary approval for the amount of $681,000 with instructions to return with more detail how the program would be administered. At the September 20 meeting it was decided by council that an official cutoff date be established. The updated total amount of outstanding balance of 60 days or more as of September 20, after the recommendation of council, would require $498,649 of ARP funds.

Council expressed concerns of how to filter out “freeloaders” who may not be directly affected by the COVID pandemic but just taking advantage of the funding to not pay their utility bills.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crawford expressed that they could go back over to ensure the funds would not go toward supporting these “freeloaders” but added it would only delay the process of aiding residents who are struggling and need support moving forward.

Councilman Richard Emery stated that he believes those who would abuse the program are in the minority and also supported moving forward, taking into consideration the approaching winter season and cold weather months, a point Council President Sarah Kneller echoed.

“I think we have the resources to do this and we should do it as soon as we can,” Emery added.

Councilwoman Crawford motioned to approve the Resolution 2021-15 to provide ARPA funds to provide utility assistance for past due balances of 60 days or greater as of September 30, seconded by Council Vice President Champion.

“I am really excited to have this before us because I think this is the first opportunity we are going to get to directly help our residents with the ARPA funds,” Crawford said.

Councilman Emery proposed an amendment to the motion to include a specific amount that would later be determined based on data gathered by the utility companies to ensure it meets the needs of residents. The amendment was seconded by Council President Kneller.

The resolution, as amended, passed unanimously by council. 

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