Previewing 2019 in Mukilteo, part 1

By Brandon Gustafson | Jan 02, 2019

The year of 2018 was an eventful one in Mukilteo, to say the least.

In last week’s issue, as well as this week’s, we’ve recapped some of the biggest stories The Beacon published in 2018.

Some stories included funding swaps, focuses on gun violence, salary bargaining for Mukilteo teachers, and allegations of alleged misspending by Mayor Jennifer Gregerson.

As we take time to reflect on a very busy 2018, there is a lot to look forward to in 2019.

So, here are some stories and situations to look for and follow throughout 2019.

 

Boys & Girls Club opening

Originally slated to open in late December 2018, the grand opening of the new Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club facility was pushed back to early January, according to club director Chuck Davis.

When last speaking to The Beacon on the opening of the facility, Davis said the new estimated opening day will likely be Jan. 7.

The current facility, on Second Street in Old Town Mukilteo, is roughly 6,000 square feet, while the new facility is around 16,000 square feet. The new gym alone is 8,000 square feet.

The new $6.68 million facility is at 10600 47th Place W, close to the Mukilteo Police Department, Mukilteo Fire Department and the Mukilteo YMCA.

It also has a total of 13 acres of property, and much of that is made up of ball fields further down 47th Place W, which will be used soccer and baseball.

 

State funding

At the early part of 2018, as the Washington State Legislature began its session, nearly $1 million was allotted to two Mukilteo projects – the removal of the tank farm at the waterfront, and the daylighting of Japanese Gulch.

As many readers may remember, the $721,000 originally budgeted for Japanese Gulch was pulled and split into funds for two 21st Legislative District projects: the Sno-Isle Mariner Library Community Campus project, and the Peace Park project in Mukilteo.

Some members of the Mukilteo City Council, notably Councilmember Bob Champion, were upset to learn about the switch of funds during a meeting in early 2018.

It was later discovered that state Sen. Marko Liias directed the funding swap.

“I asked to postpone the funding for the Japanese Gulch restoration project because there are two more pressing projects that have emerged as urgent needs in the 21st District, and as you well know, the Japanese Gulch project does not yet have a pathway to full funding and implementation,” Liias wrote to Champion in an email obtained by The Beacon.

Could Mukilteo receive the funds for the project this year?

The Washington State Legislature starts its 2019 session Jan. 14.

 

Flights at Paine Field

The city of Mukilteo spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting commercial air service at Paine Field over the last decade.

After a new Environmental Assessment Study was completed that showed no major issues in regards to traffic, noise, or air pollution, the stage was essentially set for airlines to start commercial air service in early 2019, a few months later than the original estimate of late 2018.

There will be two airlines, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, flying to and from Paine Field, with a maximum of 24 combined flights.

Alaska will have a maximum of 18 daily flights at the new terminal after acquiring five flights from Southwest Airlines, who dropped out of Paine Field..

Alaska Airlines destinations include Portland, Las Vegas, Phoenix and in California in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. United will fly to and from Denver and San Francisco.

Alaska’s first day of service is expected Feb. 11, with one flight to Las Vegas in the morning, and one flight from Las Vegas in the afternoon. According to its website, Alaska will not have more than five flights in any single day until March.

United’s first day of service is expected March 31.

 

City audit findings

The Washington State Auditor’s Office has been conducting its yearly audit of the city of Mukilteo since October. The process would typically be over by now, but alleged misappropriation of funds by Mayor Gregerson in regards to severance packages and separation agreements of past city employees has caused the audit to take longer than normal.

Councilmember Scott Whelpley, after performing a public records request, discovered some former city employees received severance and separation packages that did not align with the city’s policy. Gregerson signed off on all agreements.

Some employees, such as state Sen. Liias, who was the city’s policy analyst for nearly four years, received three months of severance rather than the two months’ pay specified by city policy.

Liias also received over $6,300 in tuition reimbursement for coursework he took at the University of Washington while a city employee. His transcript and receipt, which were required for reimbursement, were not in his separation paperwork. He later sent the receipt and transcript to the city after councilmembers requested to see it.

Councilmembers voted to obtain outside legal counsel to review whether Gregerson violated state laws.

The state attorney general’s office is now reviewing the matter at the request of the auditor’s office. It is unclear when those findings will be released.

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