The Issaquah City Council held its general meeting on Oct. 23, in which the council approved seven agenda bills. These bills covered the current infrastructure barriers for people with disabilities, an update in city code that will increase sewer rates, incentives for the new traffic police unit, replacement of the retaining wall on Black Nugget Road, the 2024 ARCH budget and work program, re-authorization of senior meals provided by Catholic Community Services, and an increase in budget for the 12th Avenue Northwest and State Route 900 to 17th Avenue Northwest transportation project.
• Americans with Disabilities Act Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan
The city council approved the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan. This plan outlines the barriers in Issaquah’s infrastructures, recommended improvements and planned barrier removal to help individuals with disabilities and create a more inclusive and accessible city.
According to the bill, most of the infrastructure in Issaquah predates the ADA’s adoption in 1990.
Since 2013, the city has been taking inventory of these barriers. In 2014, a draft of an ADA transition plan was made, but the plan was never formally adopted.
In 2022, the city contracted with Transportation Solutions Incorporated to review previous assessments and adopt a transition plan for the next six years.
The 2022 to 2023 inventory assessed 24 city buildings and facilities; 29 parks and seven paved trails; city-owned intersections, crosswalks and on-street parking spots; and city programs, activities and services.
According to the bill, the plan will prioritize barriers for removal with a five-criteria method.
Higher priority barriers will meet many or all of these set criteria. The lower priority barriers are identified as rarely frequented buildings, buildings planned for future demolition or renovation, or other alternative locations with accessible facilities.
The removal plan will cost $62,925,825 in 2023, according to the bill. However, these removals will also occur within the 2024 to 2029 Capital Improvement Plan and each biennial budget — removal through this plan totals $7,573,825.
• Increase in sewer rates in 2024
The city council adopted an ordinance to update the city’s code, which will result in an increase in 2024 sewer rates.
This update comes after the Metropolitan King County Council passed an ordinance in June that set sewer rates for 2024, in light of the Metropolitan Wastewater Pollution Abatement Advisory Committee’s recommendation.
King County provides wastewater treatment, disposal services and special utility districts to cities such as Issaquah. Therefore, the city council is requested to adopt the updated code.
According to the bill, King County sewer rates increased in 2023 and will increase again as of Jan. 1. The monthly charge per residential customer will increase from $52.11 to $55.11.
“If the city incorporates this increased King County fee into its rates, the minimum bi-monthly sewer rate (including the city’s rate and King County’s rate) would increase by 5.2% for Single-Family Residential (from $142.24 to $149.56) and 4.9% for Multi-Family and Commercial customers (from $132.60 to $139.11),” according to the bill.
• Implementing a 3% traffic sergeant specialty incentive
The city council authorized the implementation of specialty incentive pay for police sergeants assigned to the traffic unit.
The city and Teamsters Local Union No. 117 — representing police sergeants — have an existing 2023 to 2024 collective bargaining agreement, approved by the city council on Jan. 3, 2023.
However, a recent increase in police staffing has allowed the introduction of a traffic unit to the Issaquah Police Department.
Currently, in other cities, police officers assigned to a traffic officer position are entitled to a 3% specialty incentive pay. Because the unit is a new addition to Issaquah, the collective bargaining agreement does not include the 3% incentive pay.
The cost of this proposal is estimated to be $1,100 in 2023 and $5,900 in 2024.
“However, because the police sergeant assigned as traffic sergeant also shifts from a 2,184 hours/year schedule to a 2,080 hours/year schedule, the cost to implement the traffic sergeant specialty incentive pay is completely offset by the change in hours,” according to the bill.
• Black Nugget retaining wall replacement project
The city council authorized to enter into and execute a design contract with KPFF — the selected engineering firm — for phase 1 of the Black Nugget retaining wall replacement project.
The estimated 1,000-foot-long retaining wall, located on Black Nugget Road, was constructed in 2002 by a private developer under King County jurisdiction, but was later annexed by the City of Issaquah.
“The wall was not built to city standards and, as a result, has experienced more rapid deterioration than typically observed for comparable retaining walls,” according to the bill.
Every year, the city has taken preventative repair measures to secure the wall since 2010. In 2021, geotechnical analysis showed all anchors were deteriorating quickly and needed replacement within five years.
The design work, scheduled to begin before the end of 2023, is expected to continue through fall 2024. This contract includes preparing design alternatives and determining potential grant funding for the construction of the project.
The administration will then seek city council authorization for a preferred design alternative and supplement the design agreement.
The project is in the 2022 to 2027 Capital Improvement Plan and is estimated to cost $399,918.
• 2024 ARCH budget and work program
After a presentation conducted by Lindsey Masters, the executive director of A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH), the city council unanimously approved the 2024 ARCH budget and work program.
ARCH has a partnership with King County, including 15 Eastside cities, Issaquah being one of them. This partnership is an effort to preserve and increase the supply of housing for low-income to moderate-income households in the region.
The city councils involved in the coalition have the authority for review and approval of annual ARCH work programs, budgets, interlocal agreements and Housing Trust Fund recommendations.
The ARCH work program contains regional priorities and city-specific planning. The bill highlights 10 of ARCH’s proposed efforts for the 2024 work program.
Issaquah’s portion of the ARCH 2024 budget is $126,83, a 12% increase from $113,628 in 2023, according to the bill.
“The increase in funding is due in part to the approval of an additional $95,000 for outside legal counsel to help supplement the current capacity provided by the Bellevue City Attorney’s Office,” according to the bill.
In the first quarter of 2024, the city council will take action on the ARCH executive board recommendations regarding affordable housing projects requesting ARCH general fund money.