Council hears more budget presentations, discusses Lynnwood’s recreational marijuana store ban

PRCA Director Lynn Sordel discusses the department’s proposed budget increases.

The Lynnwood City Council at its special meeting held Wednesday, Oct. 29 received two more presentations regarding the city’s 2023-24 proposed biennial budget.

The first presentation was from Development and Business Services (DBS) Director David Kleitsch. According to Kleitsch, not a lot of changes are coming to the department in the next two years.

While two additional administrative assistant positions had been previously approved for DBS, Kleitsch said the department plans to hold off on hiring anyone until the 2025-26 budget because those positions are not currently needed, and the department wants to save money.

DBS will also be launching a fee study to examine better cost-recovery options.

“We’ll be looking at if we’re meeting cost recovery,” Kleitsch said. “And if not, what do we need to meet 100% cost recovery?”

The proposed DBS budget is increasing by roughly $2.2 million, bringing the total to $13,846,664.

The council also heard from Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department (PRCA) Director Lynn Sordel Wednesday night.

Sordel said the roughly $2.3 million increase in the PRCA budget is mainly due to the restoration of current park services as well as labor and salary increases for employees. The department is not anticipating creating any new positions.

“It is our desire for our parks to be safe, clean and welcoming to everyone,” Sordel said.

However, Sordel said that goal is getting harder to maintain as vandalism in Lynnwood’s parks is steadily increasing.

“While we are pleased that the collection of needles has dropped and homeless encampments haven’t increased, the overall destruction of property is a real concern,” Sordel said.

Hundreds of employee hours are spent cleaning up garbage, abandoned property and graffiti that litters the parks daily, Sordel said.

“Graffiti clean-up is a huge disruption for our crews,” Sordel said. “Every day, we discover fresh graffiti on tables, trash cans, restrooms and playground equipment as well as more significant destruction.”

Sordel said these things continue to happen even though staff have been installing security cameras in the city’s parks.

Graffiti and overall vandalism continue to be a huge issue in Lynnwood’s parks.

Despite this, Sordel said staff remain committed to keeping the parks safe and clean.

The PRCA department is also beginning to rebuild its revenues to pre-pandemic levels, which Sordel said will greatly offset the $19.4 million budget requested. The department is anticipating over $1 million in additional revenue in the next year.

The golf course alone has been seeing record revenue increases, Sordel said. In 2021, the city broke its previous record for golf course revenues and it’s expected to see record increases again in 2022. At this rate, Sordel said the department anticipates 6% annual revenue growth from the establishment.

Because of this, he said he hopes the council will approve the requested budget increase.

In other business, the council received an informational presentation regarding the city’s current ban on recreational marijuana shops. Councilmember Josh Binda said he wanted to see if there was interest among councilmembers in lifting the ban, which has been in effect since the substance was legalized in 2014.

“There are a lot of Lynnwood residents that smoke marijuana, and I don’t judge them for that,” Councilmember Shannon Sessions said after the presentation. “But [the lack of stores in the city limits is] not a burden for them. You walk just a few feet outside the city limits on all sides and they can go to a marijuana store. We’re not burdening any of our residents. I think there are 18 [stores] between here and the city limits of Everett. And that’s just in one direction. Nobody is hurting their ability to get marijuana or CBD or any of those products.”

In addition, the Lynnwood Police Department doesn’t need the extra strain of responding to the robberies and theft that often happen at marijuana stores, Sessions said.

No other councilmembers seemed particularly interested in lifting the ban, and there are currently no plans to bring a motion to the table.

— By Lauren Reichenbach

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