Skip to page contents



Squalicum Boathouse, 2600 Harbor Loop, Bellingham
Saturday, January 22, 2011, 09:00 AM
Book: 65, Page: 1

Special Meeting

Called To Order The meeting was called to order by Council President Stan Snapp.

Roll Call
    Jack Weiss, Council Member, First Ward
    Gene Knutson, Council Member, Second Ward
    Barry Buchanan, Council Member, Third Ward
    Stan Snapp, Council Member, Fourth Ward
    Terry Bornemann, Council Member, Fifth Ward
    Michael Lilliquist, Council Member, Sixth Ward
    Seth Fleetwood, Council Member, At Large



      Facilitator: David Webster, CAO
      City Staff: Mayor Dan Pike
      Marty Mulholland, ITSD Director
      Janice Keller, Communications Director
      Joan Hoisington, City Attorney
      Jeff Thomas, Planning & Community Development Director
      J. Lynne Walker, Legislative Administrator


President Snapp reviewed the agenda. The following items were added:

Discussion of resources for Council initiatives was added as item e under Council Processes and Protocols.

(1) Discussion economic development aspects of the Comprehensive Plan;
(2) Update of Fire Districts Regional meetings; and
(3) Timing of Comp Plan amendments were items added as under Other Business.

Review of 2010 Accomplishments

David Webster lead a review of Council’s 2010 Accomplishments which included:
      10 in 10 Challenge
      Green buildings and permitting
      Formation of the TBD and passage of the levy to fund projects
      Big Box compromise
      Peak Oil work and Resolution related to energy policy and tar sands
      Naming of Bellingham in numerous national “Best” lists
      Ranking of Bellingham as 6th in the world for internet connection value
      City’s relatively healthy finances in the midst of continuing economic recession
      Capital Facilities Task Force work and final report
      Council maintained positive working relationships with each other through difficult challenges

Taking Stock of Future Progress:

a. Discussion of Performance Measures and City budget process interface

Mr. Webster lead a review of the proposed schedule for selection and implementation of software for public presentation of performance metrics.

b. Demonstration of public access and management software for metrics - 30 min

Marty Mulholland lead a PowerPoint presentation explaining the Performance Measures Project covering:
Project background & 2009 project plan goals
Measurement framework
Project efforts today
Software demonstration

Mr. Webster and Ms. Mulholland explained that the Mayor and CAO would be using this as a management tool. They proposed that Committee Chairs could use the tools and scorecards for the issues that are addressed by the committees to help inform discussion and decision making. Ms. Mulholland demonstrated how the information and indicators could support committee work.

Mr. Webster reported that the Legacy and Strategic Commitments Metrics [LSCM] Task Force will work with the Council Liaisons, Stan Snapp and Terry Bornemann, to figure out the banding recommendations for presentation to Council for approval. He asked for Committee Chairs to consider what they would like for a dashboard for their committees as opposed to everyone focusing on all the indicators. He expressed that this tool will be a legacy in itself in the way it will educate the public and aid the management team in putting together budgets and workplans that focus on moving numbers in the right direction to achieve productive and positive results.

Council Processes & Protocols:

a. Discussion regarding committee structure and time constraints

Council members worked through the challenges of their diverse work schedules and the need for expanded discussions on many important topics. Council Members will hold special worksessions when more discussion is needed. Committee Chairs will try to take advantage of Mondays when no Council Meeting is scheduled to hold special worksessions. Mr. Webster asked for as much predictability as possible or advance notice and clarity as to the agenda so staff can properly prepare for it.

It was noted that the end of the year from September to December is so busy with budgeting and Comp Plan docketing that it is difficult to find time during any meeting to hold meaningful Committee discussions. Mr. Webster pointed out that budgeting decisions are already made in November before the Comp Plan decisions are made. He suggested that the docketing timeframe could be moved to June or July in order to lighten the end-of-year Council agenda load and synch it up better with the budgeting process. Mayor Pike agreed. Mr. Webster proposed that if a regular Council/Department Head Retreat could be held mid-year, the Comp Plan deadline could be May 31 and Council can know what impacts it will have to the budget.

b. Council roles and relationships with Executive, Staff and Citizen Boards

Mr. Webster presented a handout, “Where’s the Line?” and asked Council Members and staff present to rate 14 described activities. Discussion of each was held. Council Members then reviewed the City Council of Bothell’s Policies and Procedures Manual for “Council Members’ Role and Relationship with City Advisory Bodies” and agreed it was acceptable as written. Members requested the entire Manual be brought back for review at the February 7th City Council meeting.

c. Council policy regarding voting after a public hearing

Council Members conferred as to whether or not there should be a formal Council vote following a Public Hearing or if there should always be at least a one-meeting delay to allow for additional information gathering and discussion. Mr. Webster handed out some suggestions for a protocol on Council votes immediately following a Public Hearing. After an exchange of ideas Council agreed by unanimous consent to the following guidelines:
    1. If a public hearing is held on a topic and the failure to act that same evening will result in a financial penalty, legal jeopardy or collapse of a collaborative effort with another government, the Council may vote on the matter after discussing the input from the public hearing.
    2. If a public hearing reveals that there is notable diversity of opinion (pro and con) among Bellingham citizens, City Council Members or Staff, and none of the liabilities described in section 1 will result from a delay, the Council will not vote the same evening as the hearing.
    3. If the public hearing is required on a routine transaction or matter and there is little or no public comment during the hearing, the Council may vote on the matter after discussing an input from the hearing.

d. Review of Robert's Rules of Order

Barry Buchanan led a review of the following processes:

Friendly amendment
Conflict of Interest
Calling the question
Motion to Table vs Motion to Postpone
Motion to reconsider

e. Resources for Council Initiatives

Michael Lilliquist asked how Council could acquire resources for Council to develop policies and program initiatives. Mr. Webster replied that after this Council’s retreat, there would be a Department Heads retreat to be followed by a joint Council/Department Heads retreat to talk about setting objectives for the following year. The joint retreat would be informed by the LSCM which would provide illustration of the field of needs. The question of Council’s need for resources would be for funding for emerging ideas that were not foreseen for inclusion in the budget.

Mr. Lilliquist proposed two ideas, (1) provide a Council budget of $50,000 from which the Council office would purchase services of city staff to work on Council projects, or (2) provide uncommitted funds to departments to support Council initiatives. There was discussion of staff workloads following budget cuts and attrition.

Mr. Webster noted that Council had acquired the specific resource of its Policy Analyst [PA]. The PA can do much of the work independently but must also rely on departmental staff for much of it too. Currently there is a system by which the PA authors a brief identifying the assistance needed and the appropriate staff person. Mr. Webster reviews the brief and may suggest more, less, or different persons or departments. The brief then goes to the departments for review and feedback before the PA and staff engage.

Mayor Pike spoke of the current budget challenges. He pointed out that Council has budgeting authority and could add the budget item with a majority vote. He warned that in the era of tight budgets this would require reprioritization of other programs. Mr. Webster called on Jeff Thomas to weigh in on the impacts of Council initiated programs on Department work plans and resources. Mr. Thomas pointed to the example of Council’s Comp Plan criteria amendment as one in which there was an easy, efficient way for the Department to support the Council’s initiative since the Department already had a work plan in place for doing code amendments in 2011. However, in 2010 there were Council initiatives that were not in the Department work plan for 2010 at all. The introduction of an incentive zoning program caused the Department to reprioritize its 2010 work program to respond to this Council initiative - which cause the code amendment project to be deferred. Mr. Thomas shared his concern about holding uncommitted funds for unspecified Council initiatives because there are always unforeseen expenses which need to be covered every year. He gave the example of an unforeseen need for economic analysis that was not originally in the budget. There was discussion regarding timing of Council initiatives and Department work plans related to incentive zoning.

Mr. Webster explained that under the new system of department work planning for 2012, there will be the joint retreat mid-2011 to set the 2012 objectives. This would be the forum for Council to work with Department Heads to include Council initiatives in Department work plans and they would be funded in the budget at the end of the year. There was discussion regarding the effect of the budget constraints on new initiatives. Mr. Webster said that during the new process for building the 2012 budget, the Administration would see if it is possible to increase the City Sponsored Projects Reserve Fund that previously paid for new projects which could be used to fund unplanned Council initiatives.


a. Discussion of City growth management policies and Comprehensive Plan update

Mr. Weiss raised issues of inconsistency and inefficiencies in the Comp Plan. He noted that the development of infill cannot compete with the development of green fields. Green fields are cheaper to build. There is a structural problem in the Comp Plan. He questioned the definition of “urban village” and what kind of incentive to offer developers to infill. There was discussion related to the idea of metering of building permits and a description of current State Legislature efforts regarding flexibility of impact fees.

b. Other business:

(1) Committee consideration of Economic Development issues

Mr. Lilliquist questioned which Council Committee would hear economic development issues related to the Comp plan. Clearly the Comp Plan will go to the Planning and Community Development Committee [PCD], but does the Economic Development chapter go to PCD also? Where should any economic development issue be heard? Mr. Webster explained that Tara Sundin and Darby Galligan of the Planning Department were working on the initial development of the chapter. The work in the beginning will be principle-based and high level development without much detail. Additionally, there will be City/County/Port tri-funded activity related to economic development going on before the economic development chapter comes forward to Council. Some of that work will inform the economic chapter development work. It will clarify the roles of the intergovernmental agencies to align efforts and remove duplication of services. Council can begin discussion of downtown economic development plans on Monday, January 24, as the docketing of Comp Plan Amendments includes the Central Business District.

Mr. Webster further explained that the first recommendation from City/County/Port group is that out of $455K made available by these entities, only $350K will be appropriated in order to provide incentives for deduplication and achievable, quantifiable deliverables. Council will need to consider the regional picture, the City’s own element in its Comp Plan and allowance for a more robust economic development plan for the City Center.

(2) Update of Fire District Commissioners Regional meetings

Stan Snapp described the group and the participants. Barry Buchanan is the alternate Council appointee and attended the first meeting in place of Mr. Snapp. The group decided to form a sub-committee that will meet frequently, as often as weekly. Mr. Snapp described a sub-committee which, at its first meeting engaged in a visioning process for a new County-wide system. What is driving the process is that the majority of the County Council does not want Bellingham Fire Department to run the system. There was discussion of several preliminary ideas under consideration. Mayor Pike reported that there is concern in the East County about service as expressed in a letter from twelve Commissioners addressed to the Councils. The biggest problem under discussion is training. Mr. Buchanan noted that there is a realization that the financial burdens of running an adequate EMS system makes a system wide vision a necessity. Mr. Webster reported that at the February 7, City Council meeting there will be a presentation of two Public Safety Task Force reports to Council. The Fire-Medic One Task Force report calls for exploration of a Regional Fire Authority. There was further discussion of regional planning efforts.

(3) Timing of Comp Plan amendments

There was discussion regarding what it would take to move the deadline for Comp Plan amendment applications to late Spring so that they can be considered during the objective setting and budgeting process. Mr. Thomas explained there were no State laws requiring docketing applications be taken at the end of the year. Mayor Pike will work with the City Attorney and Planning Department to devise a strategy for moving the docketing application deadline to the Spring and bring a plan forward for Council’s consideration.

There being no further business the meeting was adjourned at 1:51 PM.

Stan Snapp, Council President

ATTEST: J. Lynne Walker, Legislative Administrator

This is a digital copy of an original document located at Bellingham's City Hall. The City of Bellingham specifically disclaims any responsibility or liability for the contents of this document. The City of Bellingham does not verify the correctness, accuracy, or validity of the information appearing in this document.