During the past few months, the world has faced a global pandemic. At the time of this publication, Washington state has lost 2037 people to the virus and in Burien, at least 17 families have lost loved ones. On top of this crisis, our country has woken up to a long overdue conversation about systemic racism, police accountability, and the values our city budgets represent.
The policies we’ve been able to put in place to address the pandemic include financial commitments to our local community and businesses. Councilmembers have been involved in advocacy efforts to make sure Burien gets its fair share of King County and State of Washington COVID-19 relief funding and for policies, such as rent and eviction moratoria. And we spoke out early in the pandemic on the stigma and racism our Asian community members have faced.
That said, we are facing unprecedented budget issues. We were already facing a $1 million shortfall due to the loss of the State’s sales tax annexation credit, which is set to expire this year. The 10-year credit was put in place to help the City expand services for the north Burien and Boulevard Park neighborhoods, annexed in 2010. The financial effect of stay home orders will be felt for years to come. In the short term, we are facing a 27 percent drop in sales tax revenue, and a 16 percent drop in overall revenue.
The City of Burien has budgeted conservatively for many years. We have one of the smallest number of staff for a city of our size in the region. Based on our lean model of staffing and operational efficiencies, we have less ability to reduce expenses without significant reductions in city services. With CARES Act federal funding, we have been able to pass through grant money to help our local businesses and community organizations that are serving our neighbors most highly affected by the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, we will need to make some tough decisions about our 2021-22 budget. We encourage you to get involved during this budget season.
Community Safety and Police Reform
As a Council, we are proud of the efforts that our local police department has made, under the leadership of Chief Ted Boe, to build community relationships and trust through creative partnerships, active listening, and innovative programs such as LEAD and Community Court. We will continue to support these programs, which are seeing success. We are also exploring ways to seek community feedback regarding community safety and police reform.
We encourage you to keep to up to date on City Council business and topics that matter to you. Council meetings will likely not be allowed to return to in-person meetings until at least phase 4 of the Governor’s Safe Start plan. Even though we can’t see you in person, there are ways to participate and get in touch:
- Attend the Monday night City Council by watching on channel 21 (Comcast), channel 8027 (CenturyLink), online via Zoom, or burienwa.gov/tv. See the schedule of meetings.
- Watch for scheduled public meetings or public hearings on specific projects and topics.
- Read a Council Roundup, which provides a high-level summary of the Council meeting.
We want to hear from you! Public comment is an important way for the Council to hear from residents and businesses. Ways to provide meaningful input include:
- Send emails to the City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or to each individual Councilmembers’ email address or phone number, which can be found listed at: burienwa.gov/CouncilContact.
- Provide public comment at a virtual City Council meeting and speak to the Council for up to two minutes during public comment. Learn more at burienwa.gov/VirtualMeetings.
Burien City Council
As the City's governing body, Burien's seven elected City Councilmembers establish City policies and laws, adopt an annual budget, approve appropriations, contract for services, and grant franchises. City Councilmembers serve staggered four-year terms; roughly half the Council is up for election every two years. All Councilmembers are "at-large" meaning that they serve the City as a whole as opposed to a specific district.
The City Council chooses a Mayor and Deputy Mayor from among its members at the first meeting of the new year following an election. The Mayor presides at Council meetings and represents the City at ceremonial functions and inter-governmental meetings. The Deputy Mayor presides in the Mayor's absence.