Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for November, 2010

Lynnwood Is Hiring For Rehabbed Rec Center

by Matt Rosenberg November 30th, 2010

SUMMARY: Following city council approval last night of an authorization request, the Lynnwood parks and recreation department will be interviewing candidates in December and January for a wide range of positions to be filled at its newly renovated and expanded community recreation center. Two new positions are Aquatics Assistant Supervisor and Fitness Coordinator. A new position of .875 FTE Senior Lifeguard will also be filled, plus many part-time rec center staff openings. The $25.5 million project is funded through increases in taxes on the use of cable television, telephones, cell phones and pagers.

BACKGROUND: Lynnwood is a fast-growing city of 34,000 in Snohomish County, Wash. The Lynnwood Recreation Center closed in December 2009 for major renovation.

Construction and operations of Lynnwood's expanded rec center is funded by user fees, taxes, and borrowing

It is set to re-open in April, 2010 with twice as much swimming pool space and three times as much fitness space. Improvements will include new leisure and wellness pools, water slide, partially retractable pool roof, new fitness and weight room and group exercise space. The Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts has identified numerous positions to be filled in order to meet state safety requirements, develop and run programs, maintain 99.5 weekly open hours, and generate projected revenues to help fund the facility’s operation. According to a city fact sheet, the renovation and expansion project will cost $25.5 million and will be paid for through a 3% hike in the city’s utility tax on use of phones, cell phones and pagers and a new 1% cable television utility tax, both effective 1/1/09. Permanent financing of the facility’s operations is to be paid for through city borrowing, via 20-25 year general obligation bonds purchased by investors, and through user fees and a solid waste utility tax effective 1/1/10. However, increased property taxes and a business licensing tax – discussed in a mayoral budget memo to the council, were among the new revenue measures approved by the council last night and may result in alterations to the rec center’s long finance plan.

KEY LINK: Recruitment Authorization: Recreation Center Staff, City Council action item approved 11/29/10.

KEY PROVISIONS:

  • The Lynnwood City Council is asked to authorize recruitment for aquatics, fitness and customer service positions at its expanded city Recreation Center which is to re-open in April.
  • New full-time positions to be filled are Aquatics Assistant Supervisor and Fitness Coordinator.
  • A .875 FTE position to be filled is Senior Lifeguard.
  • Numerous part time positions to be filled are for lifeguards, swim instructors, recreation specialists, weight room attendant and customer service clerks.
  • Interviews will occur in December and January, hiring in January, training in February, soft opening of the rec center in mid-March, and opening in April.

RELATED:

Recreation Center Renovation and Expansion Project site, City of Lynnwood.

Snohomish County Local & Regional Governments

by Matt Rosenberg November 27th, 2010

On this resource page for community-based information providers, bloggers and journalists, we will be providing direct links to board meeting agenda pages of city councils, school boards and other local and regional governments in Snohomish County, Wash. They are divided into three categories.

  • Meeting agenda packets available online, with separate links attached for individual items (best for transparency and reporting)
  • Full text of all items provided online in one large agenda packet, but no separate links attached to agenda for individual items
  • No meeting agenda packets available online.

Lakewood, Wash. Lodging Tax Expenditures, 2011

by Matt Rosenberg November 24th, 2010

SUMMARY: City staff is recommending Lakewood dispense $394,330 in hotel lodging tax grants to 13 recipients. The largest would be the annual $101,850 grant (to be given for 20 years) for construction of the Sharon McGavick Student/Conference Center at Clover Park Technical College, in Lakewood. The next largest grants recommended are for $65,000 to the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, $48,000 to Lakewold Gardens, and $35,000 to the Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

BACKGROUND: Lakewood is a city of approximately 60,000 residents in Pierce County, Wash. The city deposits into a special Hotel Tax Fund its share of sales tax revenues collected on overnight stays at commercial establishments in the city.

Lakewold Gardens is slated for a $48,000 2011 lodging tax grant from the city

These “lodging tax” revenues and can be used only for promotion of tourism, cultural activities, and for tourism facilities within Lakewood. The city’s Lodging Tax Advisory committee- composed of representatives from hotels and motels,and cultural and business organizations, reviewed 13 proposals submitted by potential grant recipients and issued the following funding recommendations. The next step will be for the city manager to request authorization from the city council to execute contracts with the recipients so that the grants can be made.

KEY LINK: City of Lakewood staff memo, 2011 Lodging Tax Grant Recommendations, memo to City Council from Economic Development Manager Ellie Chambers-Grady, 11/22/10

KEY FINDINGS: City of Lakewood staff recommendations for hotel lodging tax grants for 2011 are in the following table from the memo.

Restaurant Food Safety Inspections: Mercer Island, Wash.

by Matt Rosenberg November 22nd, 2010

SUMMARY: Inspectors for the combined public health department serving King County and Seattle regularly conduct on-site assessments of food service establishments and their compliance with necessary food safety procedures. Results are online and searchable by name, address, city or zip code. Recent inspections in the King County city of Mercer Island – zip code 98040 – revealed that a number of establishments were not following proper food safety procedures to minimize the risk of food-borne infections, at the time of inspection.

BACKGROUND: An estimated 76 million people per year suffer from food-borne illnesses, and 5,000 die annually in the U.S. from these ailments, which include botulism, campylobacteriosis, norovirus, salmonellosis, and shigellosis. As a result, proper hot and cold holding temperatures of foods and beverages in food service establishments are considered important. So are hand washing and hot water, soap and paper towels in the restrooms, general sanitation and avoidance of cross-contamination between ready-to-eat foods and uncooked raw meat, poultry or seafood. These and other necessary food handling procedures are detailed online by Public Health Seattle-King County and in educational visits to food establishments following inspections. Violations cited during inspections are divided into two categories. Red violations are more serious, and pose a heightened risk of transmitting food-borne illnesses to customers. Blue violations relate to maintenance. Each violation is assigned a certain number of points. Any inspection score above 5 points earns an “unsatisfactory” grade for a restaurant. It takes 35 red points to trigger a re-inspection within two weeks, and 90 red points or 120 combined red and blue points to warrant a closure.

KEY FINDINGS

According to the most recent King County-Seattle Public Health inspections of food service establishments in zip code 98040 as of this writing, the following establishments received ratings of “unsatisfactory” which were higher than the minimum “unsatisfactory” rating of 5 points.

Wenatchee Public Facilities District’s Underperforming Asset

by Matt Rosenberg November 16th, 2010

SUMMARY: An indoor arena in Wenatchee, Wash. owned by an intergovernmental agency is unable to generate sufficient revenues to cover its combined operating expenses and debt service obligations, and the agency needs to devise a new plan to make the facility solvent, according to a new report from the Washington State Auditor’s Office.

BACKGROUND: The Wenatchee Regional Public Facilities District was formed in 2006 through an inter-local agreement between Chelan and Douglas counties, and seven cities including Wenatchee. Core duties were to finance, oversee construction and assure the financial feasibility of Town Toyota Center. Originally named the Greater Wenatchee Regional Entertainment Center, the facility was completed in fall of 2008.

Town Toyota Center

Supporters said it was needed to boost the area’s competitiveness in the convention industry and to replace aging ice arenas; that it would break even at worst; and no new taxes would be required after completion. It is home to a junior league hockey team, the Wenatchee Wild, and the Wenatchee Valley Venom of the Indoor Football league.

The 4,300-seat facility is also used for ice skating, curling, trade shows and other events. Since the recession hit, sales tax revenues have declined. Bookings have been low, compared to comparable facilities in the state. These factors have contributed to the facility’s fiscal problems. If the seven towns and two counties each formally consent by Dec. 23, 2010, then a City of Wenatchee proposal for a .1 percent sales tax hike to halve the city’s annual debt obligation for Town Toyota Center could go to district voters in February 2011.

KEY LINK: Washington State Auditor, Financial Statements Audit Report, Greater Wenatchee Regional Events Center Public Facilities District, (Town Toyota Center), 11/15/10.

KEY FINDINGS

  • The period covered in the audit is 1/1/09 to 12/31/09, although the district reports in the audit that financial problems identified through that period have persisted into 2010.
  • The audit found that the district lacks sufficient financial resources to fund current operations and long-term debt. The district’s operating losses were $1.6 million in 2008 and $2.5 million in 2009.
  • The district has long-term debt of $42 million via three bond anticipation notes which require annual interest payments of $2.19 million until they mature in December of 2011, but the district is positioned to pay only $580,000 per year, using sales tax revenues. The City of Wenatchee has agreed to lend the district funds to pay the remaining bond interest due.
  • The District signed a contract in September 2006 with Global Entertainment Corporation for management and marketing services. “Global projected revenues to be significantly higher than the district actually generated, resulting in insufficient funds to cover both operating expenses and debt obligations.”
  • The State Auditor’s Office recommends that the district establish a detailed written plan to address cash flow challenges. The plan should be approved by the district’s board and actual results carefully monitored.
  • The District’s reply to the state auditor, in the audit, notes that the district terminated Global’s contract in September 2009 and hired its own general manager. Financial results for 2010 will be improved from 2009 but still short of amounts needed to cover debt service obligations, according to the district. The district and city are reviewing options and will deliberate and approve a plan in open public meetings of the district’s board. Approved plans will be stated in writing and monitored.

RELATED:

Independence, Global Part Ways Over Events Center,” Independence (Mo.) Examiner, 10/23/10.

Wenatchee Cuts Arena Tax Request,” Wenatchee World, 10/1/10

The Perfect Storm Hits Toyota Town Center,” Wenatchee Mayor Dennis Johnson, Wenatchee World, 8/17/10

Memorandum to Dennis Johnson, Mayor, (and) City Council Members From City Staff on minimizing city General Fund outlays for events facilities and visitor marketing, 5/3/10