City Council votes to change meeting start time, delays agreement with non-profit for CARES Act community fund

Lynnwood City Councilmember George Hurst (bottom left) suggested th council continue to use Zoom after the council returns to holding in-person meetings. (Image courtesy of Youtube)

Aiming to become more accessible to the public, the Lynnwood City Council voted Monday, June 22 to move the start time for its regular meetings back an hour — from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. — beginning next month.

At the Monday night business meeting, the council unanimously voted to adopt an ordinance amending the city’s municipal codes to change the start time for its Monday night regular business meetings and work sessions. The new time change also applies to the council’s meetings held on the third Wednesday of each month.

According to council rules regarding meeting dates and times, the adoption of an ordinance was required before the council could put the practice into effect. The council’s July 6 work session will be the first with the earlier start time. The council also passed a resolution to amend the council’s rules regarding start times.

Since March, the council has been meeting remotely via Zoom and live streaming meetings on the city’s YouTube page to maintain social distancing standards during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to holding meetings remotely, the council’s business meetings were recorded and posted on the city’s website a few days following the meeting. Audio recordings for council work sessions were also available on the website.

During the Monday discussion, Councilmember George Hurst suggested the council continue live streaming meetings once the council is able to resume meeting in person.

“I would like to make sure we are continuing to use Zoom even if we are…live in the (council) chambers,” he said. “I think Zoom really would help people attend a 6 o’clock meeting.”

According to city staff, the council will be able to start resuming meetings in person once the city enters Phase 3 of the Washington “Safe Start” reopening plan.

“We anticipate when we get to Phase 3 that we would have the potential to conduct meetings with some in-chambers attendance as well as some remote to sustain social distancing and also provide for public participation,” said Acting City Clerk Karen Fitzthum.

Also during the June 22 meeting, the council voted to amend the city’s biennium budget to accommodate relief funding that the city received to assist with financial impacts as a result of the pandemic. The first grant the city received was from the Department of Justice to cover coronavirus-related expenditures up to $37,845. The city will also receive $1.188 million in reimbursement for COVID-19 relief through the federal CARES Act.

Funds from the CARES Act grant have been separated into three allocations, the first being $488,000 in reimbursement for expenditures related to COVID-19. Incurred costs include payroll, technology and purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) for city employees and face coverings for customers. According to city staff, the city has spent more than $36,000 related to COVID-19 expenses and anticipates spending more than $451,000 in other projected expenses.

The city has also allocated $700,000 in CARES Act funds to establish financial relief programs, with $500,000 going toward grants or local business owners and $200,000 for a community relief fund to help residents impacted by the pandemic.

Grants of $10,000 will be made available to qualifying small businesses that can be used to cover existing operating expenses, like business rent or mortgage, payroll, utilities inventory, marketing and improvements to meet health and safety requirements. Since last week, the city has received more than 100 applications from local business owners.

Applications for CARES Act assistance are available now and must be submitted online by 4 p.m. June 26. No applications will be accepted after the deadline. For more information or to apply online, visit the city’s website.

The community relief fund will award grants to Lynnwood residents that range between $500 to $1,000 per household. The funds may be used for rent or mortgage payments, and qualifying residents will be required to provide proof of financial hardship due to the pandemic.

The city has been looking to partner with a local non-profit organization to assist in distributing the funds to community members. During the Monday meeting, the council announced it had selected the Communities of Color Coalition. However, a motion was made during the meeting to postpone awarding the contract to the organization pending further review of the agreement.

“We were trying to get this done as soon as we could, but we just need a little more time to work with (Communities of Color Coalition) and our contracting staff to fine tune the details,” said city spokesperson Julie Moore.

Moore added that city staff will provide more details on the community relief fund at next week’s council work session.

Interurban Car No. 55 at Heritage Park was rechristened “Spirit of Walter V. Shannon.” Shannon was a motorman for the North Coast Transportation Company and local historian.

In other business, the council unanimously voted to officially rename Interurban Trolley Car No. 55 to the Spirit of Walter V. Shannon.

The rename was initiated by the city’s History and Heritage and Parks and Recreation boards to honor Shannon, a motorman for the North Coast Transportation Company that operated the Interurban Trolley Service between Everett and Seattle.

Shannon was also a historian of the Interurban trolleys who collected photos and artifacts and served the city as a consultant to accurately restore Car No. 55. The car is on display at Heritage Park. Since his passing in 2003, Shannon’s family members have continued his work helping to interpret the area’s history and share information about trains and the Interurban Trolley cars of the early 20th century.

In honor of his memory and his work preserving a piece of the city’s history, Shannon’s name will be painted on the forward compartment of the tolly.

–By Cody Sexton

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