Council Roundup: Public safety in proposed budget discussed

Council Roundup: Public safety in proposed budget discussed

On Tuesday night the City Council reviewed another component of the preliminary budget, which includes a proposal to add fire inspectors. The proposal is aimed at insuring that Bellevue’s fast-growing number of residential and commercial high-rises remain safe from fire.

In its fourth session looking at the proposed 2019-2020 operating budget submitted by City Manager Brad Miyake in October, the council also discussed adding civilian staff to the Police Department. This proposal would free up staff time and increase patrol officers’ time in the community.

Since 2007, the construction of numerous apartment and office towers in Bellevue has nearly tripled the total square footage of buildings here from 13 million to more than 30 million, with another 10.5 million square feet in construction now.

Fire inspectors check multifamily and commercial buildings every other year, ensuring there are working sprinklers, alarms and other necessary provisions to prevent fires. Multifamily buildings lacking fire alarm or fire sprinkler systems are inspected annually.

The preliminary budget adds two new fire inspectors to a team of six, with inspection fees proposed to fund regular fire inspections of buildings. Fees would be assessed for businesses larger than 1,000 square feet and multifamily buildings with 1,000 square feet or more of common space.

In the same discussion, Police Chief Steve Mylett explained the requested addition of eight positions in his department that could help make up for a shortage of officers.

Currently, the department’s public information officer, crime prevention officer and court liaison officer are sworn officers. However most of their duties do not require law enforcement training. In addition, the chief proposes increasing police support officers.

Following discussion about the public safety portion of the preliminary operating budget, the council heard reports from the Transportation and Parks directors regarding projects in the proposed 2019-2025 Capital Investment Program (CIP) plan.

The council may adopt the operating and CIP budgets on Monday, Dec. 3. More information about the budgets is available in the agenda memo.

Updating Environmental Stewardship plan

Earlier, councilmembers learned how the city’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI) will be updated to help the community achieve its environmental goals.

The initiative, an 11-year-old effort to protect the environment here, has been guided in recent years by the ESI 2013-18 Strategic Plan. Highlights include the community’s participation in the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition, the Solarize Bellevue program and energy-saving changes at City Hall.

The new strategic plan will be developed for the next five years. Like the previous plan and the one before that, the updated version will focus on air quality, green building, energy conservation, tree canopy, climate change and other issues.

The process to update the plan will involve outreach to residents, businesses and other stakeholders throughout 2019. The aim is to build community support for goals in the plan.

The council is scheduled to begin reviewing progress and existing goals for the Environmental Stewardship Initiative in January. Details are in the agenda memo.
Published on 11/16/2018
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