City News You Can Use. 

News from City Hall 
Dear Bainbridge Islanders,

This week, the City prepared to issue $8 million in debt to support construction of the new Police-Court facility. As part of that process, the City's credit rating was reviewed by Moody's Investors Service, a municipal credit-rating agency. The result of that review was an increase in the City's credit rating to Aaa, which is the highest rating given by Moody's. Similar to a person's credit score, the bond rating for a municipality determines the interest rate a City pays on its debt. The upgrade means that this debt issue, and any future debt, will have lower costs. The credit analysis cited the City's strong financial policies, healthy reserve levels and experienced management. Bainbridge Island is now one of only five Washington cities that Moody's has scored with a Aaa rating (others are Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland and Mercer Island).

The Aaa rating also means that the conservative fiscal framework the City has adopted is working well. Just a reminder: the bonds we are issuing for the Police-Court project will be repaid from the City's existing revenues, and so there will be no property tax increase for residents as a result of this project.

Also this week, we shared the names of three finalists for the Police Chief position. I'm pleased that we have such a strong slate to choose from, and I am looking forward to meeting the candidates in person next week. The finalists will participate in a series of interview panels and will also attend a community meet and greet 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20. I hope you'll take this opportunity to connect with the candidates. Please see below for more details on this event, as well as a brief biography of each finalist.

The selection of our next Police Chief is an important decision, and one which I will make with input from several different resources. To help inform my thinking, I have been actively seeking feedback from members of the Police Department on what qualities they think are most important for the next Chief. In the past two weeks, I have done a ride-along with patrol officers on each of the City's four crews. It's been a great chance to hear first-hand from a range of perspectives. I've ridden with officers who were recently hired as well as department veterans, most of whom have previously worked for a number of different law enforcement agencies.

I've appreciated the chance to hear directly from these officers and others within the department, as these are the personnel who work hard each day to keep our community safe. The next Police Chief will fill a critical role within the City organization and the community more generally. It's important that we select a Chief who can continue to build on the positive connections that exist between Bainbridge Island residents and our Police officers and other staff.

I believe the most important qualities for the next Chief will be demonstrated leadership experience and a high degree of professionalism. Our department is committed to extensive training for our officers and to maintaining the high standards set by the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs (WASPC) accreditation. In addition, the upcoming transition to the new Police-Court facility will be a complex and important project, and the next Police Chief will have a critical role in the project's success. I'm looking forward to the conversations with candidates next week, and to this next phase in the Police Department's ongoing pursuit of excellence.

At the business meeting this week, the Council received a briefing from Puget Sound Energy (PSE), and also selected four sites to submit as potential locations for a new PSE community solar program. The Council also moved forward the annual funding recommendation for the use of $273,000 in lodging tax funds by local nonprofits for tourism projects. City staff provided an initial briefing on the impacts to the City from the passage of Initiative 976, and worked with Council to complete the authorization needed to access additional State funds for the City's use towards affordable housing. Click here to watch the discussions.

At the study session next week, Council will receive a briefing on options for the planned Sustainable Transportation planning initiative. The Council will also discuss whether to revisit the selected site plan for the Suzuki property affordable housing project. For more information on these items and other topics, please read below.

Best wishes,

Morgan Smith
City Manager
Community invited to meet Police Chief finalists

The Bainbridge Island community is invited to meet three finalists for the Police Chief position at a reception Wednesday, Nov. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at City Hall.

The finalists are:
  • Joseph (Joe) Clark has more than 33 years of law enforcement experience and has served in various positions with the Norfolk Police Department in Norfolk, Virginia since 1986. He currently serves as Deputy Chief, a position he has held since 2017. Joe holds a master's degree in education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia and a bachelor's degree in criminology from Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.
  • Carl Nielsen has more than 34 years of law enforcement experience and currently serves as Police Chief for the City of Centralia, Washington, a position he has held since 2015. He previously served as Captain and Lieutenant for the Turlock Police Department in Turlock, California from 2007 to 2015. Carl holds a master's degree in emergency services administration and a bachelor's degree in emergency services administration/vocational studies from California State University Long Beach in Long Beach, California. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.
  • David (Dave) Westrick has more than 28 years of law enforcement experience and has served in various positions with the Hollister Police Department in Hollister, California since 2003. He is currently Police Chief, a position he has held since 2013. Dave holds a bachelor's degree in public safety management from Union I&U in Sacramento, California, and he is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

The City worked with Strategic Government Resources (SGR) to lead the nationwide search and review the applications of 35 people for the position. SGR specializes in public sector executive recruitment. The City seeks to have the hiring process completed by the end of the year.

Last call: Volunteers needed to serve on Salary Commission

Want to help determine how much members of the City Council should be paid? Apply to serve on the Salary Commission! You've only got a few hours left to apply - applications are due by 4 p.m. today (Friday, Nov. 15).

City Council salary data was last reviewed in 2009. Beginning this year, a new Salary Commission will be appointed every seven years to perform a salary review. Currently, Council members receive $1,000 per month. The Council member selected to be Mayor receives $1,250 in recognition of additional duties assigned to the position.

Members of this Commission will be appointed by the Mayor with approval of the City Council.

Commissioners will serve for approximately 120 days, during which time the group will meet as needed. The meetings are open to the public and subject to the Open Public Meetings Act.

A member of the Commission may not include a City employee or official, or an immediate family member of a City employee or official. An "immediate family member" means the parents, spouse, siblings, children, or dependent relatives of a City employee or official.
Click here for more information about the Salary Commission and to complete the online application.
Interviews will be held later this month and/or early December.

If you have questions about the Salary Commission, please contact Human Resources Analyst Eileen McSherry at 780-8632 or by email at
Public hearing on proposed landmark tree extension set for Nov. 26

The City Council has scheduled a public hearing for Nov. 26 to consider a six-month extension of the landmark tree ordinance that is currently set to expire Dec. 26. The extension would allow staff time to draft additional regulations for the City Council's consideration regarding the preservation of trees.  

Currently, the landmark tree regulations apply only to the Winslow Master Plan Study Area (WMPSA), which includes the downtown core and nearby residential areas. The Council narrowed the ordinance in June 2019 to apply only in the WMPSA in response to public comment from property owners and Puget Sound Energy about the difficulty meeting the requirements of the regulations. Overall, the WMPSA is more urbanized and less forested than the rest of the island. 

The Council adopted the regulations last year to protect landmark trees after hearing from concerned residents about the loss of landmark trees on Bainbridge Island due to land clearing and development activities. The ordinance designates landmark trees based on size and species, requires a permit to remove any landmark tree, and imposes fines if a landmark tree is removed without a permit.

The ordinance only allows the removal of a landmark tree in limited circumstances ---  if the tree is dead or hazardous, if removal is necessary to maintain utilities, or to allow construction when there's no feasible alternative.

Applicants whose landmark tree permits are approved for removal because of construction will be required to replant trees and possibly pay a fee to the City's tree fund.

Learn more  here
City continues sustainable transportation plans

The City is continuing efforts to develop a Sustainable Transportation Plan and will discuss next steps and options during the Nov. 19 study session.
Earlier this year, City Council decided to explore the future of mobility on Bainbridge Island. The effort is being called "sustainable transportation," but other terms are active, accessible, or smart transportation. Within all these labels, the goals are the same: promote better and healthier ways of meeting individual and community mobility needs while reducing social and environmental impacts of current mobility practices.
Since January, Council and staff have been moving toward developing a comprehensive scope of work for a new Sustainable Transportation Plan. As part of that work, the City hired transportation planning consultants from Nelson\Nygaard to help the City establish goals and objectives for the plan and to perform research on current best practices on the topic. During the Nov. 19 study session, Nelson\Nygaard will present a summary of their best practices research and a proposed scope, schedule, and budget for the planning effort.
Council approves three-cent paper bag fee increase

Customers who don't bring their own bag will now pay eight cents for a retailer's bag.  City Council approved a three-cent paper bag fee increase during the Nov. 12 business meeting  to be consistent with similar fees in Kitsap County, Bremerton and Port Orchard. 

Kitsap County recently passed an ordinance to limit the distribution of single-use plastic carryout bags to reduce pollution created by the product. According to Kitsap County, Washingtonians use more than two billion single-use plastic bags each year. Kitsap County alone uses approximately 87 million plastic bags annually and only 12% are recycled. The County is now charging an eight-cent fee for paper bags. In 2012, the City of Bainbridge Island passed a similar ordinance.
The eight-cent fee is retained by the retailer and is meant to offset the cost of bags and other costs related to the pass-through charge.
The City Council will consider final approval at the Nov. 26 business meeting. 
Looking Ahead: City Council agenda

Below are some of the topics to be discussed during the Nov. 19 City Council study session. 
  • A proclamation declaring Transgender Awareness Week
  • Discussion on the Sustainable Transportation Plan scope of work
  • Discussion on potential options to revise the number and type of housing units for the Suzuki affordable housing project 
  • Discussion on the process for next year's update to the Capital Improvement Plan
If you would like to receive the City Council agenda by email when it's published, click here to sign up on the City's Council Agendas webpage.

The meetings are live-streamed on the  City website . Visit the Agendas & Minutes  section, then click on "In Progress" when the meeting starts. You can also watch the meetings on BKAT (Ch. 12 on Comcast & Ch. 3 on WAVE).
Upcoming Events & Meetings
  • Wednesday, Nov. 20: Meet the Police Chief Finalists; 6 to 8 p.m. at City Hall
  • Thursday, Nov. 28 & Friday, Nov. 29: City Hall closed for Thanksgiving holiday
  • Saturday, Nov. 30: S'mores with the Squad; 7 to 8 p.m. at Waterfront Park

Click here for the full calendar list.

A group gathers at City Hall for the Planning & Community Development Department's Q & A session on the development moratorium and other topics. 

BIFD firefighters began training this week with a new fire pump recently installed on Marine 8, a 33-foot SAFE boat that's an important part of BIPD's Marine Services Unit. The fire pump is part of a collaborative effort between fire and police to respond to water rescue calls and other emergencies.

A diver prepares to get in the water to continue the buoy installation project in the City's Dave Ullin Open Water Marina (DUOWM).

City of Bainbridge Island