During Monday’s Lynnwood City Council Business Meeting, the council approves letter to Snohomish County Council regarding a 0.1 percent increase on sales tax and failed to override Mayor Nicola Smith’s veto of ordinance 3400 relating to the removal of car tabs.
During the November 8 session, public comments were mixed, with speakers making cases for and against the same issues. One comment came from Naz Lashgari, who ran for Lynnwood City Council Position 2 in this recent election cycle. Lashgari addressed the car tab issue and expressed her puzzlement that council members listened to Tim Eyman’s comments on the subject.
Lashgari mentioned that Eyman is a Mukilteo and not a Lynnwood resident and recounted his criminal record — pointing to how he used funds to illegally “enrich himself.”
“Having him here is irresponsible,” she said.
Executive Session to legal options in Binda’s alleged finance violations
Lynnwood City Council agreed to have an Executive Session on November 15 to discuss legal options regarding potential ethics violations against Lynnwood Councilman-elect Joshua Binda relating to the allegations of illegal campaign donations and election finance violations. The City is in talks with its attorney.
According to the City’s Board of Ethics website, its purpose is “To hear complaints and determine if violations of the ethics code, or state ethics law applicable to cities, have occurred by the mayor, a councilmember, a member of a board or commission, and to enter appropriate administrative orders and make recommendations to the city council.”
The Strategic Plan
The motion to adopt the 2022-26 Strategic Plan failed. Some members, like Crosby and Decker, want more time to go over the plan before adopting it.
- Ross: No
- Sessions: Yes
- Smtih: No
- Crosby: No
- Decker: No
- Frizzell: Yes
- Hurst: No
The motion failed 2 – 5
The letter to County Council
Much of the night’s discussion revolved around whether or not Lynnwood City Council ought to send a letter to Snohomish County Council regarding a 0.1 percent increase on sales tax pertaining to House Bill 1590. The bill allows “the local sales and use tax for affordable housing to be imposed by a councilmanic authority.”
As Snohomish County aims to increase the sales tax by 0.1 percent county-wide, Lynnwood City Councilmembers drafted a letter voicing their concerns with the motion. While the council emphatically stated that they care about affordable housing and behavioral health care, they disagree with the bill’s funding mechanism.
The council deliberated on sending the letter. Council Vice President Jim Smith stated several times that “time is of the essence,” explaining that it may be too late if the council doesn’t send the letter immediately.
Councilman Decker rejects the false dilemma surrounding affordable housing
The most vocal proponent for sending the letter was Councilman Patrick Decker. “I’m going to reject the binary narrative that you either support this tax rate, or you’re against affordable housing,” he said. Decker proceeded to explain that “this is all about priorities” and that council members are responsible for using the taxpayer’s money “well and wisely and for the benefit of Lynnwood.”
After acknowledging that Lynnwood is part of the larger community — county and state — he said, “I get all of that, but I was not elected to the County Council. I was not elected to the State Legislature; I was elected to Lynnwood City Council, and that is where my first priority is and will continue to be.”
“It’s very easy to say it’s only one dollar out of a thousand, but when you have a hundred different groups asking for their one dollar out of a thousand, suddenly that’s real money. And that is what’s happening to the residents in Lynnwood,” he continued. “We’re one of the most expensive tax cities in the area.”
Adding his voice to Vice President Smith’s, he said, “We have to act sooner rather than later.”
Decker also raised concern over how the county is using the money they already collect from the city, indicating a lack of clear communication from the county. “There’s not enough detail from the county about how the money has been and will be spent,” he said. “We got to make sure to look out for our residents.”
After further discussion, council members decided they would send the letter after making two amendments to it. The amendments include requesting to speak directly with a knowledgeable informant who can clearly explain to the city council how the sales tax increase will be used — a proposed plan of action. Council members specifically requested to speak with Councilwoman Stephanie Wright.
The council also added a request to know how sales tax have been used regarding Ordinance 08-154 — which authorized a sales and use tax to provide for operation or delivery of chemical dependency or mental health treatment and therapeutic court programs and services.
After a unanimous roll call, all council members agreed to add their name to the letter and send it to the Snohomish County Council. (Click here to see the letter before the aforementioned amendments were made).
No one budges on $40 car tab relief veto
The final item on the agenda was a motion to override Mayor Smith’s veto of ordinance 3400, which eliminates the annual $40 vehicle license fees imposed on Lynnwood residents. The motion was brought forth by Council President George Hurst and seconded by Council Vice President Jim Smith. To override the Mayor’s veto, the council needed a supermajority vote of at least five yes’s.
A brief discussion took place before the vote in which some council members reiterated their previous arguments for or against Ordinance 3400.
- Ross: No
- Sessions: No
- Smtih: Yes
- Crosby: Yes
- Decker: Yes
- Frizzell: No
- Hurst: Yes
The motion failed to override Mayor Smith’s veto with a vote of only 4 – 3.
To view the entire session, click here.