Youth drug abuse prevention is initiative goal
As part of the 2013 city budget, your City Council accepted my proposal to fund a new Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Initiative. Funded through proceeds from drug enforcement actions by the police, the program will be designed in the next few months.
The City Council approved $10,000 for the new initiative, which will fund youth education and outreach, as well as activities to teach youth healthy behaviors. I encourage you to submit your ideas and input.
Part of the reason I suggested the Substance Abuse Prevention Initiative is because of changes in our drug laws and feedback I have heard from parents in our community.
Like many people, I voted to approve I-502 to take a new approach to marijuana use by adults. However, I believe passage of the initiative requires us to be even more diligent in making sure that young people don’t get caught up in the dangers of substance abuse.
The Washington State Healthy Youth Survey found that in 2008, nearly 40 percent of 12th graders statewide reported alcohol or drug use within the past year. The same survey found that over 20 percent of 12th graders reported using painkillers to get high (http://www.hys.wa.gov/Reporting/StateResults/2008/Statewide12.pdf).
As I talk to parents and community members, I know that we are all concerned about the dangers of substance abuse among our young adults. While we are just one city in a much larger community, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take action where we can.
This initiative is one way to increase our efforts. Our Police Chief, Rex Caldwell, has built strong connections to our Mukilteo schools, and we may find good suggestions for activities through these relationships.
I am also interested in asking our city’s Youth Advisory Committee to weigh in. These students work on volunteer service projects and speak out on issues facing the city. There are openings on the committee for high school age students living in Mukilteo; contact Krystn McArthur if you’re interested in serving (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tank Farm Transfer Coming Soon
In the coming year, there are a number of critical issues facing the city, some that have percolated for years. The tank farm property should finally be transferred to the Port of Everett within a few months. Once that happens, I think we should rekindle our conversations with the Port about the vision for the property.
Mukilteo has clear zoning rules for the waterfront area, but there are still opportunities to plan out a vision. Connecting Lighthouse Park to the other side of the waterfront, constructing the new ferry terminal, and identifying a vibrant use for the current terminal holding area corner will be my priorities.
Appealing the FAA Decision to Allow Commercial Service
On Monday, your City Council unanimously voted to appeal the recent FAA decision on allowing commercial air service at Paine Field. I am committed to investing in that fight. We deserve a full environmental review of all the impacts of commercial service.
I believe that the FAA had their flawed decision made years ago, and never fully assessed the impacts or our concerns. My ultimate goal is to see Paine Field dedicated to its best use, family wage jobs and aerospace manufacturing. Environmental reviews generally focus on mitigating and negotiating impacts. If that is our only recourse, Mukilteo and the entire South Snohomish County area should have a complete defense with all potential impacts paid for and mitigated.
Fire Service Questions
In January, the council has two meetings related to our fire service. January 7th, we’ll discuss a contract that we directed the Mayor to negotiate with Fire District One. This would shift our firefighters and service to the District, with the city budget paying a fixed contract price. This is the same situation that Edmonds recently transitioned to, and that Brier and Mountlake Terrace have done for years.
I am hoping that we have a fully negotiated proposal that may create some certainty in costs, training and quality of service. I’m not sure if this is the right answer for Mukilteo, but it deserves a full vetting and discussion. A contract could be in place in a matter of months, if the council decides it will be cost effective in the long run.
Two weeks later, we will discuss an issue that I’ve been working hard on for the past two years, the Regional Fire Authority. This option could happen with or without a contract.
The RFA largely keeps service in Mukilteo the same, while providing for more efficient training and a broader command structure, including emergency incident command response provided through battalion chiefs and a trimmed down administrative structure.
The RFA is funded differently than the city, through a combination of property taxes and a fire benefit charge. The fire benefit charge is based on type of use (single family, commercial, etc) and square footage. It should help Mukilteo households, since we have a higher average property value.
Changing costs from property value to a square footage basis should average out in our city differently. My decision on the RFA will depend on those financial factors, balanced with the potential for an improved and more efficient service.
This column is the opinion of Council Vice President Jennifer Gregerson and may or may not represent the views of the Mukilteo City Council.