The Beacon extends invitation for community involvement
Mill Creek public meeting online, plus local take-out
Last updated 3/5/2021 at 7:01am
The Mill Creek Beacon suggests making an evening of your city council presence to take advantage of the pandemic's at-home culture. Plan ahead for the first, second, and fourth Tuesday of each month to get Mill Creek area take-out and "attend" a city council meeting on Zoom.
Then tell us about it: Where did you order from, what did you learn from viewing the council meeting, what do you want to read more about? Email what you experienced to [email protected]
Mill Creek City Council had 22 participants at the March 2 meeting. Agendas as well as audio and video of past meetings are posted here: https://bit.ly/2Om9MiG.
The meeting link is here: https://zoom.us/j/99918222243.
For those shy about public presence, it is possible to be muted and off-camera on Zoom by viewing the lower left-hand corner of the screen to turn off those options.
At the March 2 meeting:
City Hall still closed
The city voted unanimously to extend the emergency proclamation that keeps City Hall closed to the public. The closure was extended to April 6, unless circumstances allow for the city to open earlier than that. Reopening will be revisited as the infection-rates for COVID-19 are monitored and vaccination efforts continue.
During the discussion leading up to the vote, Councilmember John Steckler asked if the city could open passport services if protocols were followed to keep people safe. City Manager Michael Ciaravino agreed with the intent to prioritize city revenue.
“Above all else is how to really continue to reinitiate the revenue streams,” Ciaravino said. Reopening is “uppermost in our awareness."
He mentioned concern for employees and said the city is working on structural improvements to prepare for a safe reopening when possible.
“We’re working on some additional physical structural improvements, such as partitioning between the service counters," he said.
The city is staying ready and staging for reopening, he said.
Update: Public Works
Public Works Supervisor Matthew Combs gave a presentation on tasks and projects for his department. One upcoming project is the streetlight hanging over a pond on Bothell-Everett Highway, which he said is expected to be completed in May. The project required a specialized contractor able to provide a crane. Some traffic disruption will occur when the project is completed.
Public Works is in the process of clearing along SR 527. Combs said crews were out five days straight with another five days to go. The clearing project is for pedestrian safety.
"I don't know if anybody's driven by, but as you drive by now you can clearly see the bridge," he said.
The project rids the area of an invasive species, "otherwise known as blackberries. There's a lot of blackberries throughout the city, and we'll be working continuously to mitigate the threat" they create, by blocking the visibility of walkers and joggers.
Projects such as that one contribute to the notion of walkable cities, which is a reputation for Mill Creek. People can often be seen walking dogs, jogging and traversing from store to store in Town Center.
Additional projects were covered as well.
Combs said the Public Works department strives toward a common goal: to be trusted.
“For a public works employee, the best compliment is when Public Works is taken for granted and people trust us,” Combs said.
The city began the process to update the Governance Manual, with a workshop. Changes discussed mostly circled around public disclosure and conflict of interest. The council will revise the manual with final revisions anticipated in May.
The conflict of interest additions in the manual carry an overall message of avoiding personal benefit.
“The take-away: You can’t have an interest, direct or indirect, in a contract with the city,” said City Attorney Grant Dettinger.
Conflict of interest protocols included the directive for councilmembers to disclose interest and avoid participating in a vote on a matter that includes a direct or indirect interest.
“These situations can come up from time to time. The key is making a disclosure then recusing yourself from participating,” Dettinger said.
Executive sessions, exceptions to the open meetings act that allow the council to conduct meetings outside of the public view, were also discussed. One suggested as an addition to the governance manual involved topics related to collective bargaining negotiations.
“That is something that comes up from time to time so it makes sense to add it,” Dettinger said.
Text messages can also, under certain circumstances, be public, Dettinger said. They also addressed social media.
“Since 2011, social media has just grown and expanded dramatically,” Dettinger said.
He suggested adding a provision to address that fact. Councilmembers are not required to have a social media account, but the manual should state that the city is not responsible for maintaining it.
If a councilmember decides to have one and discuss city business, “that’s the point that you may be creating a public record that may be subject to disclosure.”
The test of whether something is a public record is as follows, Dettinger said:
“Is it a writing, does it contain information related to the conduct of government or the performance of the governmental or proprietary function?
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