North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Council considers variety of issues

 

August 8, 2018 | View PDF



This week’s City Council meeting is the last meeting of August, since the Arlington City Council will be taking a break the rest of the month. The next meeting will be after Labor Day.

Before they go, however, council was expected to vote on a proposed $15 monthly ambulance utility fee on Monday, and also, to consider a plan to surplus four lots across Washington Street from the Arlington Library.

The property was acquired many years ago in hopes of building a new library there. More than 10 years ago, a bond proposal for a new library came in about 30 votes short. Sno-Isle Libraries has since redirected energies with its pilot library in Smokey Point, to test the waters for a more centrally located building.

So it was proposed to council during the July 23 workshop meeting that the properties should be surplussed and made available for development.

Council seemed agreeable to the idea, after discussions earlier this year during a retreat meeting. The four lots are zoned for old-town residential and will not host high-rise apartment buildings, said Marc Hayes, director of community and economic development.

Council was also scheduled on Monday to hold a public hearing on its six-year Transportation Improvement Plan, which lists more than 20 projects, to be developed in the next six years. Projects include new roads in Smokey Point, widening of SR 531 and Smokey Point Blvd., several roundabouts on SR 530, and some trail connectors. A complete list of projects is available on the city’s website.

Ambulance Utility

The ordinance creating the Ambulance Utility Fee includes setting rates and amending the 2018 Police Department Budget for increased staffing.

The per month fee on businesses and residents, is proposed as “a more sustainable method to fund public safety services,” according to council documents, since the state limits an EMS property tax levy at a maximum of $0.50/thousand dollars of assessed value. Funding sources include transport fees paid by patients or their insurance companies (including Medicaid and Medicare) and by contractual payment provided by other jurisdictions that do not have their own EMS services.

Even with these sources, a shortfall of $1.5 million remains to cover current costs. The city has been using its General Fund to cover the cost of those services and that limit resources to hire more police and firefighters/EMS.

If approved on Monday, the fee would be listed on the city’s water, sewer and storm-water bills. The new fee drew about 50 residents last month, most of whom were concerned about the raise in cost of living in Arlington. Two people did speak in favor of the fee, considering the quality of service.

Council faced four alternative on Monday: Decide not to form an ambulance utility at this time and provide services through the general fund; Decide to form an ambulance utility, and adopt the proposed $15 per month fee; Decide to form an ambulance utility at a different monthly fee; Remand to staff for more information.

 

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