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Port Townsend mayor, fire-rescue chief describe details of proposed annexation Peninsula Daily News (txt)

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Excerpts from City Council Minutes

DECEMBER 3, 2018

SUBJECT: Resolution 18-058 Endorsing a Correction to the Property Tax Levy Ordinance 3210 Adopted on November 13, 2018 CATEGORY: BUDGET IMPACT: ☒ Consent ☒ Resolution Expenditure Amount: $ ☐ Staff Report ☐ Ordinance Included in Budget? Yes ☒ No ☐ ☐ Contract Approval ☐ Other: ☐ Public Hearing (Legislative, unless otherwise noted) ☐ 3-Year Strategic Plan: N/A Cost Allocation Fund: 010-


041 GF - Finance General SUMMARY STATEMENT: On November 13, 2018, City Council unanimously adopted Ordinance 3210 Fixing and Adopting the 2019 Property Tax Levies. The attachments and calculations presented with the adopted Ordinance 3210 were correct but the Ordinance reflected the wrong amounts. The Ordinance amounts for the General and EMS tax levy should reflect the prior year levy amount (2018) plus the 1% for new construction. For both the General and EMS levies the ordinance reflected the proposed 2019 amount. The corrections to the ordinance are as follows: 


Section 1.1. the General tax levy amount of $4,156,303 should have been $4,119, 669 


Section 1.1. the increase from the previous year amount listed at $40,593 should have been $40,789 


Section 1.2. the EMS tax levy amount of $771,155 should have been $764,092 


Section 1.2. the increase from the previous year amount listed at $7,533 should have been $7,565 The Ordinance was corrected to include these changes and was submitted to the Jefferson County Assessor’s office before the November 30th levy certification date. With this resolution, Council will endorse the change to the Ordinance language. As stated previously, the actual calculations for the property tax levies and the amounts included in the 2019 budget were correct, only the language in the ordinance required updates.

OCTOBER 15, 2018

Ordinance 3197 Stating the Intent of the City Council to Annex into and Join Jefferson County Fire Protection District No. 1 DBA East Jefferson Fire Rescue in Accordance with RCW 52.04.061 through .131 to Continue Providing for Fire Prevention, Fire Suppression, Emergency Medical and Hazardous Material Incident Response Services within the City          


Mr. Timmons reviewed the ordinance and the timeline on previous fire annexation discussions. The Fire District Board is prepared to confirm its direction on October 17. He briefed Council on Resolution 18-052, a tax limitation proposition and reviewed some of the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding previously approved by Council.    Staff responded to questions on the base levy versus additional banked capacity phased increases in the amount of $908,724. There was some concern about the lack of public input on the banked capacity needed for Streets, Parks and Library funding.   


There was no public comment.    


Motion: Michelle Sandoval moved to approve waiving Council Rules and Adopting Ordinance 3197 Stating the Intent of the City Council to Annex into and Join Jefferson County Fire Protection District No. 1 DBA East Jefferson Fire Rescue in Accordance with RCW 52.04.061 through .131 to Continue Providing for Fire Prevention, Fire Suppression, Emergency Medical and Hazardous Material Incident Response Services within the City. 


Amy Howard seconded.    


Vote: motion carried, 5-1 by voice vote, Robert Gray opposed.     


Resolution 18-052 Approving an Annexation Agreement with Jefferson County Fire Protection District No. 1 dba East Jefferson Fire and Rescue and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Annexation Agreement          


Mr. Timmons explained the resolution includes the purposes for levying the funds and approves the agreement on phasing.  


There was no public comment.    


Motion: Michelle Sandoval moved to approve Resolution 18-052, Approving an Annexation Agreement with Jefferson County Fire Protection District No. 1 dba East Jefferson Fire and Rescue and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Annexation Agreement. 


Amy Howard seconded.    


Vote: motion carried, 5-1 by voice vote, Robert Gray opposed.

OCTOBER 9, 2018

OCTOBER 1, 2018

Fire District Annexation Agreement Update           


Mr. Timmons reviewed the timeline associated with annexation. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) lays out terms and conditions of annexation and the Fire District intends to adopt the MOU next week. The tax phasing agreement would provide assurances to voters that the levy authority available from an annexation vote would be phased in and earmarked as stated. If annexation is approved in February 2019, it would not have any impact until 2020. Ordinance 3197 and companion ballot measure would be brought forward in October. He explained that if the ballot measure fails, Council could ask the state legislature to amend the current statute to allow until August 30 for certification of the election.  


He recommended an amendment to the Annexation Agreement 3(c)(ii)b as it was suggested at the strategic planning retreat. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund authority might be expanded to address infrastructure improvements for affordable housing projects. A special town meeting is set for October 9 in the Chambers to report to the community. There was no Council objection to the change in the agreement.

AUGUST 13, 2018

Status Update on Fire District Annexation        


Mr. Timmons reported on Staff's review of the timeline and possibility for amendments to the interlocal and pre-annexation agreements. He suggested asking the state legislature to amend provisions related to deadlines for taxing districts to reset their taxing boundaries. The legislature has a special session in August and February 2019 would be the earliest opportunity to put forward such an amendment. The interlocal agreement adjusts the formula to go into effect in 2020. If annexation does not occur in 2019, the agreement would be modified to mirror the effect of annexation. He reviewed language in the Annexation Agreement 3A(c) Additional Financing Terms - Future Annual City Tax Levies Limited.  


Mayor Stinson reported that a Joint Oversight Fire District Board Meeting on August 20 might be postponed to September 4 toward the goal of getting general agreement on moving forward with annexation. Once agreements are in place, a joint City/Fire District public forum is proposed for October followed by action on a resolution to enact the ballot measure.

APRIL 30, 2018

Fire Annexation Discussion          


City Manager David Timmons reviewed items included in the agenda packet and the guidance provided by Counsel Alice Ostdiek on an approach to addressing provisions in the current interlocal and the additional banked capacity. He reviewed the terms of the memorandum of agreement with the District and recommended assigning certain tasks to the Joint Board and soliciting specific recommendations.   Council shared concerns on the impact to the City's General Fund if relied on to make up the $300,000 shortfall. Alternatives would be to lower levels of City services or seek revenue from other sources.   


Commissioners voiced concerns about the City being able to update the eleven year old interlocal agreement. Portions of the agreement are no longer relevant, including the funding disparity between the City and fire district (an increase of .20 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation). Other considerations were how the District and City could be contractually bound on the use of the banked capacity such as through the District providing additional services.   


There was significant discussion of the pros/cons of moving forward toward equalization through passing an increase to the special purpose levy, and then later addressing annexation. Comments were in favor of building a coalition and ensuring there is a successful campaign in place long before the December deadline for a February ballot. It was suggested that there be plans for both a pass and a fail of the ballot measure. If the measure were to fail, the District wants to review the interlocal and the funding mechanism for equalization.   There was also Council interest in better understanding a Regional Fire Authority model as an option to annexation and pros and cons of each. Regarding the election timeline, the discussion shifted to whether to use a joint fire district board meeting to come up with a plan and recommendation and outreach strategy on what to do with the banked capacity.    


In response to questions, Commissioner Johnson reviewed the number of calls for service and there was interest in having these figures for future discussions. There were suggestions for employing all resources for outreach including Kiwanis, PT Rotary, and town meetings and streamlining the information to reflect a specific timeframe for the minimum levy increase.    


Public Comment: Rick Jahnke spoke about the possibility for a maintenance and operations levy in February by the Port Townsend School District.  Phil Dinsmore urged splitting out the issue of the banked capacity. He spoke about the regressive taxing structure and urged the City filing an amicus brief.    


Mayor Stinson summarized the intent to convene the Jefferson County Fire Protection District No. 1 Joint Oversight Board with developing a public outreach strategy and timeline for moving forward with a ballot measure for annexation. The recommendation would include whether to increase by the minimum of $.20 per assessed property valuation or move toward a multi-year levy approach. It was suggested their work include a strategy for explaining to the community the Fire/EMS issue and paying for those services. Council effort would be needed to discuss options on the banked capacity of $900,000.

APRIL 23, 2018

Fire Annexation Discussion        


Mayor Stinson noted this matter is in preparation for the Joint meeting next week. Mr. Timmons noted that Alice Ostiek has been legally advising the City on this matter specifically related to the additional capacity and setting a contractual limit related to the City's authority to levy tax. The Fire District might also be interested in a banking agreement to limit how funding could be used.   During discussion, there was concern about the August ballot timeline as well as some support for first addressing equalization. More public information and outreach is needed on the annexation issue in general. Mayor Stinson reviewed a suggestion submitted by Rick Jahnke on discontinuing utility tax.    


Public Comment:   Rick Jahnke spoke about the potential for a School District maintenance and operation levy in February.

MARCH 19, 2018

Resolution 18-013 Related to Fire Services; Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Pre-Annexation Memorandum of Agreement with Jefferson County Fire District No. 1        

City Manager David Timmons gave the staff report on the City's pursuit of a potential ballot measure that would annex the City into Fire District No. 1 (East Jefferson Fire and Rescue). The agreement does not specify a particular ballot date, but does commit the City to move forward with an agreement. Mr. Gross noted that an updated draft of the pre-annexation agreement was distributed. He responded to concerns about authorizing a memorandum of agreement (MOU) before the ordinance adopting a ballot measure is passed.  The Mayor and staff led a discussion and responded to questions about the language in the MOU (Exhibit A), including the governance structure, levy limits, City levying authority, tax equity with district residents, and cost of providing services. She indicated the district is interested in making a case for support from the voters.    

Public Comment:  There was none.    There was continued discussion about the timing to pursue fire annexation.    


Motion: Ariel Speser moved to approve Resolution 18-013 Related to Fire Services; Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Pre-Annexation Memorandum of Agreement with Jefferson County Fire District No. 1 (with several corrections to Exhibit A as noted). 


Pamela Adams seconded.    


Vote: motion carried, 6-1 by voice vote, Robert Gray opposed.

JANUARY 22, 2018

Update on Possible Annexation to Fire District #1 (East Jefferson Fire Rescue)                   City Manager David Timmons outlined the possible ballot measure to approve annexation of the City into the district. He reviewed items listed in the resolution related to a negotiation of a pre-annexation agreement. Other points covered were election timing, level of service standards, changes to the district board, the timing of city payments, and the public process. He explained the illustration in the packet and the spreadsheet of calculations of a fire annexation model to show how the levy works.   There was significant discussion of the potential financial impacts of the levy, especially during the first year. Mr. Timmons noted that while there is uncertainty about when a new fire district board would be formed, the ballot might include language regarding maintaining the organizational structure until their election. He recommended holding a series of meetings and discussions to collect as much feedback as possible on the options the community would like to see. Regarding the timing of the ballot measure, staff expressed a desire for the November versus August ballot. Mr. Timmons noted that EJFR is supportive of moving forward with the annexation. They would like to discuss with the voters enhancing fire service and feel they could operate more effectively as one district. EJFR would have a coordinated but separate citizen engagement process. Next steps would be to finalize the memorandum of agreement to bring forward to Council in February and then work on the public notice for the town meetings. April would be time to negotiate the interlocal agreement with the district. There was a request for a district map.

JANUARY 8, 2018

Council reviewed options for progressing with the Fire Annexation proposal which could include placement on the ballot in August or November. David Timmons recommended holding three Town Meetings hosted by a third party moderator.