WHAT TO EXPECT: Yakima City Council Study Session | November 14th, 2023

The Yakima City Council will hold a study session on Tuesday, November 14th, 2023 at the City Hall Council Chambers. This will be the first meeting since elections on November 7th which changed the makeup of city council from a majority left-leaning council to an overwhelming conservative majority. Although those members will not be sworn in until 2024, it’s a development to keep an eye on as this Council makes some of their final moves.

Study Session Agenda | City of Yakima | November 14, 2023

Introduction of new Director of Finance and Budget

Mark Roberts will be announced as the new Director of Finance and Budget. Roberts enters the position at a time with a lot of volatility. The city is experiencing a looming deficit and has been unable to come to a consensus on increasing revenues as well as decreasing expenses. Each option is met with opposition from certain special interest groups. The council seems to be doing its best by listening to its representatives while looking to the future.

Roberts will have a big part in turning around the city finances. One of the main functions of the finance department is to provide financial analysis in support of all city services. With a pay rate that will be anywhere between $58.60 – $74.79, Roberts will have pay commiserate with the awesome responsibilities of his new job.

According to his LinkedIn, Roberts has over two decades of experience working with city finances. Starting in 2000, Roberts was the Controller for Fayette County in Uniontown, Pennsylvania for eight years. A move to Virginia followed where Roberts took a position as Cash & Investments Manager with the City of Norfolk, Virginia.

Next, Roberts moved to California. For eight years, Mark Roberts served as the Director of Finance for National City, California. For the last 2.5 years, Roberts has been Director of Finance and Information Technology in Salinas, California.

Tourism Promotion Area Agreement

This agreement is required by state law and says the city will contract with the state for the administration and collection of the lodging tax.

The lodging tax, as of October 2011, is a $2.00 tax per hotel room per night. The funds collected from this tax can then be used on marketing and other activities which support the promotion of tourism within Yakima.

Opioid Use Disorder Discussion

This discussion centers around opioid abuse and addiction. You would not know it by the communist language used by City staff as they try to change the language of the actual issue at hand.

Despite the disagreement in language used, it is refreshing to see the city be more proactive in their fight agains the opioid epidemic.

The roundtable includes local health professionals as well as a local community activist, Megan Tweedy. Tweedy has a presentation attached to the agenda showcasing options for opioid funds of which Yakima County has received around $8 million. The City of Yakima has accepted around $2.6 million.

We have e-mailed two City Council members to find out if that money has been appropriated or spent yet. Once we hear back, we will update this article accordingly.

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