City council roundup: homelessness, document fees

New public records request fees were approved at the Nov. 21 Redmond City Council meeting, bringing the city in line with state guidelines.

The fee structures were passed during the last Washington state Legislative session and were designed to reduce the cost to the city for producing documents for the public.

These changes include charging 15 cents per page of photocopy of paper records or printed copies of electronic records; 10 cents per page for electronic copies of scanned paper records; 5 cents for each four electronic files or attachments when delivered through a CD, DVD or thumb drive, with an email being considered a file; 10 cents per gigabyte of data when on a physical medium like a CD, DVD or thumb drive and no fee for inspection of records at a city office.

Additionally, the measure allows for the city to charge a “reasonable” fee for providing copies of public records that won’t exceed the amount necessary to reimburse the agency.

These fees were brought to the attention of state lawmakers after various municipalities expressed concerns about what they viewed as excessive public records requests.

At the same meeting, city staff provided an update on homelessness outreach in Redmond.

The task force was convened in April 2015 to propose ideas for dealing with increasing homelessness in the city. It had issued recommendations by August of that year following six meetings.

Some of the recommendations that have been implemented since then include increasing police bike patrols.

Neighborhood outreach police officers began increased patrols in 2016 and partnered with city outreach staff to try and connect homeless residents with services.

Also recommended was creating an awareness campaign for the community, which culminated in the “All In, All Home Redmond” campaign, which drew from the All Home campaign in the county.

The goal of this campaign was to keep the issue of homelessness in the mind of the community as something that needs attention.

Funding was also increased for services like job training, day center services, housing stability support and providing transit passes.

This included some $25,000 that was granted to eight agencies in the area, including Friends of Youth, LifeWire and Congregations for the Homeless, to help them purchase transit passes for the homeless.

The city also invested $75,000 a year into the Friends of Youth drop-in center, which serves homeless youths, $22,500 a year for the New Bethlehem day center for families, $34,000 a year for the Congregations for the Homeless drop-in center, and additional money for the Sophia Way women’s day center.

Redmond also increased funding for Hopelink to $23,000 a year, increased funding for Catholic Community Services at a rate of $12,220 annually, and is providing some money to the King County Bar Legal Services to help prevent evictions.

Council member Hank Margeson thanked the commission, which requested that it convene after two years of work.

“The things that we’ve done have been very smart, so I applaud that,” Margeson said.

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