Staff shortages and cooling real estate revenue slowing Shoreline’s transportation plans

Friday, April 19, 2024

By Oliver Moffat

The Shoreline city council heard public comments on the city’s proposed Transportation Improvement Plan at a public hearing on April 15, 2024.

This is the first article of four covering comments from the council about that plan.

A chart from the last page of the Transportation Improvement Plan shows funded and unfunded projects 

The six-year transportation plan and the public hearing are both mandated by state law. The plan must be updated every year by the city to give residents visibility into which transportation projects will be funded (and not funded) between 2025-2030.

The estimated total cost for all the projects listed in the plan could come to $360 million but $163 million of that is currently unfunded.

A screenshot shows Mayor Chris Roberts saying,
“Shoreline is the little city that could”
Mayor Chris Roberts expressed optimism about the city’s ability to find ways to get projects funded. 

“I like to say Shoreline is the little city that could. 

"I mean, look at some of the projects that we have accomplished over the last 20 years,” Roberts said in reference to the $140 million Aurora corridor project completed in 2017 and the recently funded 145th corridor, I5 interchange and 148th non-motorized bridge projects which together will cost $157 million.

The city is asking the council to provide more money from its general fund for transportation projects because it has already spent most of its funds to match federal grants for large transportation projects.

These matching funds come from Real Estate Excise Taxes (REET) which are declining with the cooling of the real estate market. 

A screenshot shows Councilmember Eben Pobee
questioning the city’s strategy for funding
transportation projects with declining REET revenues 
Councilmember Eben Pobee questioned the city’s request to draw money from the general fund. 

“In the last quarter of 2023 when we looked at our projections… what we saw was that there was a huge reduction in the cash inflow specifically for that” Pobee said, 

“I’m wondering how strategically it’s going to be, for our general fund to continue to match these grants… “

Without money from the general funds, the city will be unable to take on smaller traffic safety projects according to city staff. 

But even with money, the city’s transportation plans are slowed down by staff shortages. 

In response to questions from Roberts, city staff said that in addition to budgetary constraints, the city is understaffed and does not have sufficient engineers and project managers to drive all its transportation projects.

The city has five vacant engineering positions and is trying to fill a term limited position to complete a sidewalk on NE 200th to serve nearby Cascade K-8 school. 


Anonymous,  April 19, 2024 at 7:47 PM  

Mayor it's nice to be optimistic, but a little realism and taking into consideration families are being drowned in taxes, you may want to open those eyes a little wider

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