• Council Roundup: New COVID-19 funds and public safety pledge next steps

    Published August 6 2020

    Plus, aquatic center feasibility report and next steps for public safety review 

    On August 3, the City Council was asked to approve two ordinances to facilitate receiving and distributing federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. The funds related to these ordinances are designed to support business and operational needs to respond to COVID-19. 

    In late June, the city was notified that it was eligible to receive $221,909 of CARES Act funding for a grant program through the King County Relief Fund to support economic relief and business recovery activities in response to COVID-19. 

    Staff recommended the city accept the funding, with $185,000 spent on 37 $5,000 small business grants and $36,909 allocated to cover COVID-related economic development and business technical assistance expenses. The small business grants are for small businesses in Bellevue with less than 25 employees who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Grants will be distributed through a lottery system, with priority given to businesses who have not received relief funding from other sources. 
     
    A second ordinance authorized the city to use CARES Act funding and enter into an interagency agreement with the state Department of Commerce – the agency that administers COVID-19 relief funds to local governments in the state. The city accepts $4.4 million to help cover the costs of responding to the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 emergency – both direct costs to the city and costs to the community. 

    The city’s forecasted operational costs through October to respond to COVID-19 are in excess of $3.8 million. The city will use the remainder of the funds ($500,000) to meet the most urgent human services needs in the community, including food and housing. 

    The ordinance would amend the 2019-2020 Operating Grants and Donations Fund to increase the appropriation by $4,359,000 and amend the 2019-2020 Human Services Fund to increase the appropriation by $500,000. 

    The council unanimously approved the ordinances at the meeting. The full discussion replay is available on Bellevue Television.

    Aquatic center feasibility report 

    The council also received an update on the 2020 Aquatic Center Feasibility Study, as approved in the 2019-2020 budget. The feasibility study helps guide future design and planning of the project and the update gives the council a chance to clarify desired approach based on the findings.

    The council discussed the high demand for pool facilities in the area – noting a long waitlist for learn-to-swim programs at the Bellevue Aquatic Center, which was built in the 1960s – and the challenges for the current facility to meet the growing needs of the community.

    A motion to keep moving forward on the project passed unanimously, with a further decision to narrow possible locations for a new aquatic center to Airfield Park, Bellevue College or another location if found during the development process. The council opted to no longer consider sites for the facility at Lincoln Center or Marymoor Park.

    The study and meeting materials are available in the agenda item.

    Next steps for public safety review

    In the city manager’s report, the council received an update on next steps for a review of public safety practices since the council signed a pledge in June committing to examine its policies and procedures with an equity lens.

    The pledge commits the city to taking the following actions: 

    1. Review - police use of force policies.
    2. Engage - the community by including a diverse range of input, experiences and stories in the review.
    3. Report - the findings of the review to the community and seek feedback.
    4. Reform - police use of force policies.

    The city has started the process of community stakeholder outreach to help inform the review and community engagement process, and is working to secure a third-party consultant to assist in the impartial review and assessment.

    Staff will present a proposal to the council in early September on the approach for the review.