City council ends year with approval of 2023-24 biennial budget, awards for Lynnwood police officers

The Lynnwood City Council approved the city’s 2023-24 budget Monday night.

The Lynnwood City Council at its last scheduled meeting of 2022 approved the city’s 2023-24 biennial budget as well as the 2023 salary schedule, both with amendments.

Council President George Hurst moved to make two amendments to the city’s 2023-24 budget, both of which passed unanimously. His first amendment added multiple additional expenses, including: an ADA Title Two and Six Consultant totaling $120,000; a Community Justice Center (CJC) courtroom IT equipment expansion packet of $132,000; cybersecurity service for $150,000; and four new master custody officer positions for the CJC for $792,500. These services totaled a budget increase of $1,194,500.

Hurst’s second amendment was to transfer $2 million from the city’s Transportation Benefit District fund to the Transportation Capital Fund to continue the upkeep of the city’s roadways.

The motion to approve the city’s 2023-24 budget passed 6-1, with Councilmember Jim Smith voting no.

The council also passed the city’s 2023 salary schedule after making a few amendments.

Hurst moved to retain the position of assistant city administrator rather than changing it to city administrator, as had been proposed. Hurst said that technically, the mayor is the city’s administrator, and changing the job title would make city matters more confusing for some.

Hurst’s amendment passed unanimously.

The council president also moved to amend percentages for some city staff raises. While the salary schedule originally had an 8.5% increase for all city positions, Hurst moved to amend that percentage to 8% for all positions except Grades 626 and 627, which are deputy director and director jobs. Instead, Hurst said those two positions should only receive 4% increases, stating this would meet the city’s goal of offering more equitable salaries across the board.

After some discussion, the amendment passed 5-2, with Councilmembers Shannon Sessions and Josh Binda voting no.

Councilmember Smith also moved to amend the salary schedule, stating the job position of Neighborhood and Community Affairs should be eliminated since the position had not been filled in years and the city did not have plans to hire anyone for it in the foreseeable future.

Smith’s amendment passed 5-2, with Councilmembers Sessions and Julieta Altamirano-Crosby voting no.

Before voting on the amended salary schedule, some councilmembers made comments on their dissatisfaction with how hastily the schedule was brought before the council.

Altamirano-Crosby said it was sad that city staff did not offer councilmembers this information until what seemed like the last minute and said she hopes the council will get more time next year to evaluate the schedule.

Hurst also voiced his disapproval of how quickly councilmembers were asked to vote on the matter. He said he was hopeful that next year the council can spend more time reevaluating the entire salary schedule and potentially working to restructure it to better focus on creating equitable salaries for every level of city staff.

The amended salary schedule was passed unanimously.

The council also unanimously passed the city’s final 2021-22 budget amendments. According to Lynnwood Finance Director Michelle Meyer, only one change was made to the amended budget since it was last shown to the council.

Due to the recent snowstorm, Meyer said the city used more resources than expected. Because of this, staff added an amendment to increase the city’s street fund by $50,000 in case another winter storm hits the city before the end of the fiscal year.

The council also unanimously approved an ordinance for the city’s organics procurement, the 2023 city council calendar and two American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) subrecipient contracts.

In other business, the council received a 2021 audit exit conference from Haji Adams and June Li, who work in the Washington State Auditor’s Office. 

Both a financial statement and accountability audit were conducted. According to Li, both audits found no deficiencies or areas of noncompliance and concluded that the City of Lynnwood was in line with all applicable laws for the year of 2021.

“There were some uncorrected errors, and these errors are included in your exit packet,” Li said. “But these items are not material and they do not affect your financial statements.”

Adams said no cost adjustments needed to be made from the original audit estimate and the city should expect to begin the 2022 audit process in the spring of 2023. Both a financial statement and accountability audit will be made again in compliance with state laws.

The full audit report will be made available on the Washington State Auditor’s website next week.

The city council with the recipients of the Lynnwood Police Department’s annual awards. (Photo courtesy of Lynnwood Police Department)

In addition, the council also received a brief Lynnwood Police Department presentation and handed out the department’s annual awards.

“I am very proud of the work we have done collectively over this past year to bring service to our community,” Lynnwood Police Chief Jim Nelson said.

The Lynnwood City Council will be taking a three-week break from its weekly meetings to enjoy the holiday season. Council meetings will resume on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023.

–By Lauren Reichenbach

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