Arlington City Council members got some good news Monday, May 21, when Eric Scott, from the city's Public Works department, announced that easement agreements from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad had been signed that day.
"We should receive them tomorrow," Scott said.
Signed agreements include a temporary construction easement for the intersection of Lebanon Street with the railroad, a permanent easement for the Centennial Trail's intersection with the railroad, and an agreement on the cost of construction of the intersection. The easements are required for the ongoing 67th Avenue improvement project.
When Councilmember Chris Raezer asked why the city's project had to pay for the BNSF crossing, Scott explained that it was the city's project.
"It's for our use," he said.
A lease agreement for a sliver of BNSF property along the retaining wall at 211th Street is still outstanding, Scott said.
Other May 21 council decisions:
• Ken Levesque, an architect, was appointed to the Arlington Planning Commission, replacing Jim Cummins, who resigned for health reasons.
• Council approved a proposed bid from D.G. Buchanan, in Granite Falls, for an extension of a water main at the airport.
• Council approved a call for bids for another water main replacement.
• Mayor Barbara Tolbert proclaimed May 20 - 25 a very special week: It's both the National Public Works Week and the National Emergency Medical Services Week.
• In its consent agenda, council approved a proposed 9-11 memorial design to be built at Station 46 with private funds. Fire Chief Stedman and his committee is heading up fundraising efforts.
• Council approved road closures for special events, including the Memorial Day Parade Monday, May 28, for the Downtown Arlington Business Association's Show-n-Shine Car Show on June 9, for the Grand Parade on July 4, and for the Arlington Street Fair July 13, 14 and 15.
Sales tax increase for public safety?
At its May 7 council meeting, a resolution for a ballot measure to raise sales tax by one-tenth of 1 percent, specifically for public safety, faced opposition by six out of seven council members.
Councilman Chris Raezer's motion to approve the resolution heard no second.
Councilman Steve Baker objected to seeing the resolution on the agenda without any workshop discussion.
Assistant administrator Kristin Banfield noted that the council had discussed during the budget discussions in November about presenting the proposal to voters in 2012.
City officials discovered that sales tax increase proposals had to run on the primary or general election ballots.
"Things have changed since then," said Councilwoman Marilyn Oertle. "I did vote for the concept in November, but that was to balance the budget. We need to explore every option. I don't think raising taxes is the way to go."
She suggested streamlining the budget and looking for other resources.
One of three new council members, Councilman Ken Klein pointed out that Arlington has the highest utility tax rate in the region, and he felt that the voters expected him to make the tough decisions.
"We should let the voters decide," he said.
Councilwoman Debora Nelson expressed concern.
"I am very torn," she said. "I am trying to decide what's best for our citizens."
She noted that the community wants to see more police on the street, but even one-tenths of one percent is hard on business. She also noted the issue should have been discussed in workshop before it came to council.
Councilman Randy Tendering also said he was torn, but he said he discussed the issue with some colleagues and one Marysville businessman told him, "Go for it. If you raise your sales tax, the people will come to Marysville."
Raezer pointed out that the city is short of funds, and is currently borrowing from fund to fund.
"We need to get resourceful and consider joining forces," Oertle said.
Mayor Barbara Tolbert concluded the discussion, reminding council of the 75 day notice required by the state to raise or lower taxes. May 11 was the deadline to run the tax measure on the primary ballot in August. It could also run on in the general election in November.
"We've had a lot of time. I guess we'll need to look within," Tolbert said.
Joint meeting with school district, hospital
As per tradition, the fifth Monday in April was spent with officials from Arlington School District and Cascade Valley Hospital for a quarterly joint meeting.
The school district's food services manager Ed Aylesworth shared information about the Farm to Schools program funded by the Stillaguamish Tribe.
The city's assistant administrator, Paul Ellis told about lessons learned in a table top exercise for emergency management and public works director James Kelly updated the agencies on road projects, including 67th Avenue and Airport Boulevard, as well as the state Department of Transportation's beginning construction of a roundabout at SR 9 and 172nd (SR 531).
Arlington School District Superintendent Kris McDuffy recommended several books on leadership.