Fiscal irresponsibility at Sammamish City Hall

Commentary

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Mayor Don Gerend

As the Sammamish City Council heads into its retreat tomorrow evening, there is one topic that will get short shrift: the City’s finances.

In Monday’s Sammamish Comment post, I outlined the City’s own 2017-2018 budget that has a 73% decline in its cash balance from the end of 2016 to the end 0f 2018.

The budget has a 30-minute allocation on the retreat agenda. It’s not enough, and the City Council has been ducking the budget ramifications for the last two years.

The City faces being out of cash in 2019 at the current spend rate. (See Operations vs Capital Funds, below.) Action needs to be taken this year. It’s been put off yet again.

There is simply no other way to put it: the City Council and Administration have been irresponsible to not face up to the coming budget realities sooner.

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A big win for citizens, transparency: Sammamish to live stream its retreat

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  • Update: Here’s the City’s email announcement:

Although there may be some technical obstacles to overcome, the city is planning to livestream the City Council retreat this weekend. If everything works, residents will be able to watch the proceedings from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20, and from 7:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 21.

To watch the livestream, go to www.sammamish.us, click on the “news and events” tab, and then select “TV 21.” The retreat is being held at the Murano Hotel, 1320 Broadway Plaza, in Tacoma.

Sammamish will live stream its retreat in Tacoma this weekend.

Details have yet to be announced, including hours and days. The link will be https://www.sammamish.us, click on the “news and events” tab, and then select “TV 21.”

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Christie Malchow

The retreat begins Thursday night at 6pm with a Council dinner–it’s unclear if this informal session will be part of the live streaming, although Council business will inevitably be discussed.

The meat of the retreat is all day Friday and Saturday morning.

“I think this is a huge win,” said Council Member Christie Malchow, who proposed live streaming.

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New taxes, debt appear inevitable in Sammamish

 

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Sammamish cash coffers will decline by 73% during the next two years, from $62m to $17m, as expenditures exceed revenues in the 2017-18 budget.

With major road projects being considered, and even without them, new taxes and/or debt seems to be inevitable.

The City Council last year approved the budget without any new taxes or debt, going into this year’s Council elections in November.

But forgoing new revenue means a burst of new taxes seems likely to stave off the so-called cross-over point when the City looks at a cash deficit. The current projection is that the crossover point will occur in 2020, according to the finance section in the Council packet, which may be found here.

Finances will be a part of the Council’s annual retreat, which begins Thursday night and continues through noon Saturday at the Murano Hotel in Tacoma. Finances are slated for discussion Saturday morning.

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City considers live streaming Retreat, with some internal opposition

City_of_SammamishThe Sammamish City Council is considering live webcast streaming of its annual retreat, a move that may be a first among governments in the great Seattle region.

The retreat will begin Thursday night with a 6pm dinner and continue to noon Saturday. It’s at the Murano Hotel in Tacoma.

The Murano is about an hour’s drive from Sammamish in normal rush hour traffic. Tacoma was chosen for the second year in a row in lieu of the City’s historic location at the Suncadia Resort in Roslyn, east of the Cascades. The driving time is about the same, provided there aren’t any snow issues or closures over Snoqualmie Pass.

Council Member Christie Malchow proposed the live webcast. City Manager Lyman Howard opposed the idea, reflecting an opinion from the facilitator hired for the retreat.

Council Members Ramiro Valderrama and Tom Hornish strongly supported Malchow. Members Tom Odell, Kathy Huckabay and Bob Keller gave general support, with some reservations or questions. Huckabay and Keller expressed support for taping the meeting rather than broadcasting it live.

Odell expressed general support but also some reservations.

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Sammamish Council Retreat, Day 3: More on barricades; Community Outreach; and more

City_of_SammamishJan. 16, 2016: The third and last day of the Sammamish City Council Retreat saw yet a third run at the 42nd St. barricade issue.

(Our post yesterday has also been updated.)

Greg Reynolds, the leading proponent for removing the barricade, said City officials admitted the roadway on the west side of the barricade is unsafe, requiring action to fix the situation and remove the barricade, or it faces liabilities if it takes no action.

This is the other side of the same coin argued by a leading opponent who has since moved out of state, Rick Kuprewicz, who argued Sammamish would be opening itself to liabilities if it removed the barricade because of the unsafe road.

Sammamish inherited the problems, including the barricade and road design, from King County, which approved both before incorporation.

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