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Mill Creek approves another $25,000 to its labor relations provider, tripling the cost in just two years

MILL CREEK, Wash., April 7, 2022 – The Mill Creek city council approved another $25,000 amendment to its labor relations agreement with Cabot Dow Associations Inc. and authorized Public Works to purchase new machinery at its Regular City Council meeting Tuesday, April 5, after a presentation from Community Transit.

Community Transit Presentation

ric ilgenfritz
Ric Ilgenfritz

Ric Ilgenfritz, Community Transit CEO, updated the council with major projects, network planning, and long range plans. Ilgenfritz was pleased to announce that Community Transit is maintaining about 82% of pre pandemic service and ridership has been incrementally increasing on a weekly basis. Community Transit bottomed out at about 60% ridership at the beginning of the pandemic, Ilgenfritz said, but it’s been “gradually coming back since” averaging a little over 100,000 weekly boardings only projected to increase as employers welcome their workers back to the workplace.

Ilgenfritz admitted the pandemic has changed how people approach transit and will approach transit in the future. Community Transit has installed “state of the art” air purification technology in anticipation for the mask mandate on public transportation to be lifted in a couple weeks.

Community Transit is also working on service innovation, which Ilgenfritz admits means different things to different people, but what it means for CT is “experimenting with different forms of transit to make it a more convenient choice”. An example of this is on demand service, within a designated area, which would allow a rider to summon a shuttle with their smart phone, the Lynnwood Pilot Project, and shifting to zero emissions.

The Lynnwood Pilot Project is an on-demand ride service where riders can summon a shuttle from their smart phone and receive pickup service within 15 minutes or less. The project is currently in a twelve-month engagement procurement process that will operate in a defined zone (most likely Alderwood, extending to City Center, and to 44th Ave) in Lynnwood.

Upcoming projects Roland Behee, Director of Planning and Development, shared with council are the swift blue line (strategic extension to Shoreline North/185th street), swift orange line (new bus rapid transit service between Lynnwood and Mill Creek), swift green line (continue service level and leverage new connections), and transit emphasis corridor focus for other frequent routes. All of these are planned to be implemented by the opening of Lynnwood’s link light rail extension opening 2024.

Labor relations service agreement with Cabot Dow Associations Inc.

Following Community Transit’s presentation, council proceeded to their next agenda item – a consideration of a resolution (2022-639) approving the labor relations service agreement amendment No. 3 between the City of Mill Creek and Cabot Dow Associations, Inc.

The City of Mill Creek is required by law to negotiate, in good faith, with regard to labor management issues and the terms and conditions of successor labor contracts with bargaining units of City employees.

Cabot Dow Associates, Inc. agreed to provide labor relation services in August 2020, with a maximum cost of $25,000 under the initial agreement. The consultant reviews and suggests appropriate labor contract language, advises the City on labor policy and parameters for labor negotiations, represents the City as Chief Negotiator in labor negotiations, mediation, and grievance arbitration proceedings. The consultant will also provide total compensation studies and assists with other labor relations requests as needed.

This amendment was amended to a maximum cost of $50,000 in July 2021 to assist the City with continued negotiations between both AFSCME and the Guild.

Cabot Dow, on behalf of Finance Director Laurel Brock, requested council to approve the third labor relations services agreement amendment with a maximum cost of $75,000 for continued labor relation services throughout 2022 as the City and Guild continue negotiations over the successor Collective Bargaining Agreement and work through potential mediation proceedings. This is an increase of 200% within two years.

Councilman Vincent Cavaleri motioned to approve the resolution seconded by Councilman Mark Bond. The resolution was passed 4-0.

Request from Public Works to purchase a mini excavator

Matthew Combs, Mill Creek Public Works Supervisor, approached council requesting authorization for the City Manager to spend up to $155,000 to purchase a new 50G John Deere mini excavator with attachments and a flat-deck trailer.

A 50G John Deere mini excavator.

“This is a necessary piece of equipment as are infrastructure is aging, we need to keep up with that,” Combs said. “Our maintenance versus repair ratio has changed significantly over the last, almost, four decades.”

Councilman Bond asked what the life expectancy of a piece of equipment like this would be. Combs replied Public Works expects it to last up to 20 years. 

Councilman Cavaleri made a motion to approve the resolution (2022-640) approving authorizing the department to make the purchase. The resolution passed 4-0 (Vincent Cavaleri, Mark Bond, John Steckler, and Brian Holtzclaw voting in the affirmative).

Consent agenda

Council concluded the meeting by approving all three items of their consent agenda, 4-0, which included:

  • Approval of Checks #64471 through #64546 and ACH Wire Transfers in the Amount of $1,334,844.96
  • Payroll and Benefit ACH Payments in the Amount of $258,962.62
  • City Council Meeting Minutes of January 25, 2022 and February 1, 2022.

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