Mayor Rebecca Olness does not veto or sign budget | Black Diamond

Outgoing Black Diamond mayor initially planned to veto city’s 2014 budget but decided against it

As one of Rebecca Olness’ final acts as mayor of Black Diamond, she did not veto the 2014 city budget, nor did she sign it. The budget passed by the City Council Dec. 12 went into effect Tuesday.

At the Dec. 12 council meeting Olness said she would veto the budget the members passed, which was different from the budget Olness presented to the council. Olness said during a phone interview after the Dec. 12 meeting she presented a balanced budget to the council Oct. 10  that included some “difficult decisions” based on decreased revenues from YarrowBay, the Kirkland-based developer which has two master planned developments, The Villages and Lawson Hills, set for the city.

She said the council budget was “unreasonable, especially with the cuts to IT (internet technology) and facilities coordinator position.”

The budget items Olness referred to cut the position for information technology manger, Chip Hanson, and cut the salary of the facilities coordinator, Kevin Esping, by $13,000.

Councilwoman Janie Edelman responded by email, noting that the council, “held five work studies since Aug. 15 the last on Dec. 5. We also held two public hearings for citizen input. This was in addition to the numerous finance committee meetings where the budget was discussed.”

Edelman said cuts were necessary due to funding cuts by YarrowBay.

Olness had 10 days to send a letter to the council stating she had vetoed the budget measure, which must be passed by the council by Dec. 31, according to state law.

Olness said by phone she decided not to veto because Esping, who has been with the city for 32 years and was the facilities coordinator, would be reclassified at his current pay rate, but his work time would be reduced to 80 percent.

Olness added, “The Finance Committee agreed that there was no change in the actual (overall budget) dollars.”

Olness said the city of Auburn “agreed to contract with Chip Hanson as part of their contract for a ‘transition’ of IT services.”

According to city staff, the difference in the budget numbers between the mayor’s budget presented to the council Oct. 10 and the council budget that was passed Dec. 12 was the council budget increased spending by $188.

City Administrator Mark Hoppen reported to the council by email, “Subsequent to the Finance Committee meeting this morning (Dec. 19), I realized that there is a ready resolution to the potential veto of the budget. This resolution meets the objectives of the City Council; leaves Mayor objectives intact; eliminates the need for any change to the already approved 2014 City Budget; and removes the necessity of any remaining City Council Meeting in 2013.”

Hoppen wrote in his email that Auburn could contract for Hanson after Dec. 31, “on the basis, as later stated by Auburn’s IT lead Ron Tiedeman, of ‘no guaranteed hours but on-call services with hours billed and paid by Auburn and charged under our ILA (interlocal agreement) back to Black Diamond at an agreed upon rate.’”

Concerning Esping’s position, Hoppen wrote, “There will be no change or consequence to the 2014 budget as adopted. No subsequently hired Utility Worker position will be compensated at Kevin’s current rate of pay. Moreover, the unfilled Facility Equipment Coordinator position identified in the adopted 2014 salary schedule can be eliminated by Council from the salary schedule in 2014 if Council so desires; at any rate it isn’t budgeted.”

Olness said she did not veto the budget, but would not sign it because of the “principle of it.”