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Mukilteo turns to Tara Dunford for financial assistance and releases its Waste Management report

MUKILTEO – Mukilteo City Council authorized a professional service agreement with Tara Dunford for technical accounting assistance and discussed the findings of Waste Management’s 2021 annual report at its regular meeting Monday, July 18.

City authorizes agreement with Tara Dunford for financial assistance

Council Vice President Elisabeth Crawford moved to authorize Mayor Joe Marine to sign a professional services agreement with Tara Dunford for technical accounting assistance not to exceed the amount of $66,000. The motion was seconded by council member Riaz Khan. The motion passed unanimously.

Tara Dunford

Dunford’s responsibilities, under the agreement, will be preparing budget documents, preparing financial reports, reviewing accounting transactions, and other technical accounting and financial tasks as assigned.

Staff proposed the City enter a technical accounting assistance contract with a consultant to help it prepare for the 2023 budget process. Council approval was required since the dollar amount of the contract exceeded staff’s administrative authority (limited to $30,000 or less).

According to her resume, Dunford is a Certified Public Accountant, with an expertise in local government accounting and budgeting. She routinely works with local government clients to provide a variety of technical accounting assistance, including assisting them with budget preparation.

Dunford has been assisting the city of Mukilteo’s Finance Department since April 2022 by preparing the state-mandated financial statements that must be submitted annually to State Auditors. The combination of her past experience, plus her very recent knowledge of the City’s finances, makes her an excellent choice to help the City prepare for the 2023 budget process while staff continues the search for a permanent Finance Director, the city said.

Dunford’s original agreement with the City has 63 hours remaining which will be allocated to technical accounting assistance work. The new agreement will add 400 hours for services through the end of December 2022, at a rate of $165.00 per hour. The total amount of the agreement cannot exceed the amount of $66,000 and Dunford must only invoice the City for the number of hours utilized. This could mean that her total hours and cost could be below the contracted agreement. If the total amount is utilized, staff must return to the City Council for a budget adjustment to the Finance Department budget.

Additionally, the agreement with Dunford will be terminated once a permanent Finance Director has been appointed or, at least, soon after.

Waste Management 2021 Annual Report

Han Kirkland, Contract Manager for Waste Management (WM), also approached council with a presentation of WM’s 2021 annual report.

Kirkland has overseen the Mukilteo contract since 2020 and served the city of Tukwila for 21 years prior. As contract manager Kirkland’s role is to work with city staff, customer service, and operations to ensure WM is providing the best possible service to residences and businesses of Mukilteo.

WM has been servicing garbage recycling, and compost for residential, multi-family, and commercial properties in the City of Mukilteo for over 25 years and took over the city in 2019. As part of that contract, they are required to present an annual report.

The major findings of that report were the diversion rate, the percentage of total collected material not sent to the landfill, was slightly down compared to previous years in the residential sector mainly due to workers going back to work in-person or working hybrid. The overall diversion rate went from 21.4% in 2020 to 26.7% in 2021 while the commercial diversion rate held steady at 12%

“Overall, the community is doing a great job at consistently diverting material from the landfill but there’s always more work to be done,” Kirkland said.

While 2021 was the second year into the pandemic, WM faced many challenges such as labor shortages and supply chain issues but according to Kirkland they still worked hard to stay committed to putting people first by maintaining no lay-offs, full 40-hour work weeks, and benefits and wage parity. Last year the company also extended their continuing education benefits for their employees and their dependents to attract and retain workers.

Later this year WM will be rolling out their smart truck technology, throughout the city, which will allow them to focus on safety features with continuous taping and videoing to get instant feedback. Drive cam safety features will allow A.I. to help with lane departure, distractions, following distance, continuously sent back to managers to provide feedback to mentor drivers. Smart truck technology will also allow WM to provide more reliable service to verify part sizes and look at contamination in real time, for example.

Beginning this Fall the WM will be making major renovations to its Cascade Recycling Center (CRC), expanding the center while implementing state-of-the-art technology which will include advanced sorting technologies with 17 optical sorters, which can sort 600 items per minute. The rebuild will also increase production capacity by 50% Kirkland predicts.

Consent Agenda

Council also approved the following items during its unanimous consent agenda.

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