Council considers development fee increase, reports on liaison activities

Department of Building Services Director David Kleitsch

A recommendation that the City of Lynnwood raise the fees it charges for development-related services was among the items that the Lynnwood City Council considered at its July 3 work session.

The council received a briefing on fees associated with the Department of Business and Development Services (DBS), which oversees building permitting and licensing, code enforcement, safety inspections, tree removal and other activities. The fees were last increased in 2020, by 6.3% based on a cost-of-living adjustment. In June 2021, Lynnwood contracted with local consultant the FCS Group to review the fees to ensure the city was recouping the costs of providing these services.

DBS now achieves 92% cost recovery, which is above average compared to nearby cities, FCS Project Director Martin Chaw told the council. Lynnwood spends $3.7 million to provide DBS services and recoups $3.4 million in fees. When inspected more closely, cost recovery varies by each department’s division.

To achieve 100% cost recovery, the FCS Group recommended that the city raise certain fees. State law prevents the city from charging more than it spends to provide these services, so an upper limit exists for fee valuations. A full list of suggested fee changes can be found at the bottom of the completed study. A broader overview of the study, shared with councilmembers at the work session, can be found here

At several points during the highly technical presentation, councilmembers asked for clarification. Councilmember Jim Smith expressed reservations about the proposed increases, saying that people simply would not contact the city for certain services to avoid paying higher fees. Presenters and councilmembers also mentioned that before the creation of the DBS department, it was significantly more expensive to use third-party contractors to provide these services. 

DBS Director David Kleitsch said the purpose of the presentation was to receive council input and that the department present it as an item for council approval at a later meeting. 

In other business, each councilmember presented an update about the boards and commissions they serve on. In January, councilmembers were allowed to select the committees they attend. Councilmembers can fill a range of functions on a board, ranging from leadership roles to simply listening to the discourse. 

By order of presentation, each councilmember reported on their board service.  

Councilmember Decker speaks to fellow Councilmember Josh Binda

Josh Binda

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Commission 

– Attended four of six meetings, notified liaison of absence in advance on one occasion. 

– Mentioned the upcoming Nubian Jam, working on ideas to improve local voter turnout and youth engagement in the community.

Planning Commission

– Attended none of the five meetings

– Binda began his report by stating that he believed he was an alternate to the planning commission. Later, Sessions stated this was false and that Binda agreed to split the meetings with Councilmember Patrick Decker during their initial conversation in January. Decker said that Binda’s understanding of the situation was a matter of public record and advised him to not go into detail, which ended the debate. 

Patrick Decker

Finance Committee

– Attended four of five meetings 

– The city is doing well financially, despite unexpected expenditures. Retail sales continue to be strong.

Planning Commission

– Attended four of five meetings, though two were noted to be partial attendances

– Items that the planning commission reviews have already been brought to council meetings for discussion.

Lynnwood Tourism Advisory Committee 

– Attended all three meetings. Two more meetings occurred but no information about attendance was provided for these.

– Tourism in Lynnwood is doing well and hotel/inn owners are pleased with their current level of occupancy, though this may change when construction workers who stay in Lynnwood leave. There are open positions on this committee, and the city is looking to fill them

Snohomish County Tomorrow 

– Attended four of six meetings, notified liaison of absence in advance on one occasion. 

– Recently, meetings have focused on city planning and housing. A large topic of discussion is the location of an upcoming Sound Transit maintenance facility, which has generated concern among residents about noise levels.

Jim Smith

LEOFF-1 Disability Board

– Attended all six meetings 

– The board spent several meetings reviewing and updating policies that were out of date.

Lynnwood Public Facilities District  

– Attended three of four meetings. Two more meetings occurred but no information about attendance was provided for these.

– Many big projects are in the works. 

Shannon Sessions

LEOFF-1 Disability Board

– Attendance not available

– Reiterated what Smith said, mentioning that the retired first responders were thoroughly educated on the details of the LEOFF-1 system. 

History and Heritage Board

– Attended four of six meetings, notified liaison of absence in advance on two occasions

– The Lynnwood Alderwood Manor Heritage Association recently created an informational series on YouTube that discusses local history. Gary Rogers, one of two trolley caretakers and tour guides, recently passed away from cancer. The city was already planning to dedicate the trolley to Gary and his wife, Jeanne Rogers, and will hold a dedication ceremony on July 22.

Veterans liaison

– The Heroes’ Cafe recently created a new website about its activities.

Everett Link Electeds Board

– Attendance not reported.

– Sessions and Mayor Christine Frizzell have been working on the Everett Link Extension to ensure that the project is ready to move forward well ahead of construction. They have been discussing options for the Alderwood station stop.

Julieta Altamirano-Crosby

Council Vice President Julieta Altamirano-Crosby was absent from the meeting but passed along a written summary to be read by Council President Shannon Sessions.

Finance Committee

– Attended three of four meetings.

Parks and Recreation Board  

– Attended five of six meetings, notified liaison of absence in advance on one occasion

– The “pocket oasis/dog park” project is moving forward. The ParksLove initiative is a large part of the board’s current focus.

Sister City & Friendship City Program

– There have been no meetings this year.

Shirley Sutton

Human Services Commission

– Attended three of five meetings. 

– The need for mental health services has increased drastically since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission requested funds to provide these services to students in the Edmonds School District. 

Alliance for Housing Affordability  

– Attended two of three meetings, though Councilmember George Hurst was in attendance as the alternate during her one absence. 

– The alliance has been actively engaged with the 2023 legislative session. Sutton reported a fact she found alarming:  93% of people who work in Lynnwood do not live in Lynnwood.

George Hurst

Arts Commission

– Attended three of six meetings, notified liaison of absence in advance on two occasions. Hurst mentioned that the absences were a result of scheduling council meetings around holidays.

– An art show was held in Lynnwood City Hall in April. Public plays will be held in parks starting with a July 20 rendition of The Tempest

Finance Committee

– Attended all five meetings

Snohomish County 911 Board

– Attended all six meetings

– Retention for 911 staff is low and applications dropped significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. They hired a recruiter, which has helped the situation. 

— By Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

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