City of Brier, Washington

City of Brier FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Special Addition - Information regarding Snow/Ice for residents

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The City of Brier has identified snow/ice routes that include primary streets and many hills that have been identified as being problematic. With limited staff and equipment we are unable to fulfill every request as our staff focus on the snow route first, then move out to address other streets. Brier will continue to focus on the snow route if snow continues to accumulate or additional attention is needed.

Download the Snowplow Map

Rubber bits are used on the snow plows due to raised pavement markings, utility castings, and other infrastructure, therefore ice, compact snow, and heavy slush is difficult to remove. People are surprised to see our plows do not remove the snow to bare pavement, but this is typical when using rubber bits and is the standard for Western Washington.

One main reason may be that sand and/or salt material may have just been applied or is in the process of being applied which takes time to effectively work. Another reason may be that the plow is simply traveling to a specific request from law enforcement or similar and it is not advised to travel over approximately 15MPH while plowing.

The standard material used by the City of Brier for traction is a course road sand. During particular events such as our most recent, rock salt may be used in combination with the sand to assist in the melting process.

Currently, Brier is not set up for using De-Icing or anti-Icing liquid products such a as Calcium Chloride or Magnesium Chloride which take specialized storage tanks and application equipment that Brier is not currently equipped with. Another main reason is purely the amount of vehicles that travel the roadway generating heat assisting with the melting process and Brier's streets do not see the volume of traffic being a primarily residential community.

Plow operators do not intentionally block driveways with berms of snow. Plows are typically angled to the right and streets are cleared from the center line to the road edge. If an operator sees a resident has attempted to clear their driveway, they will often attempt to straighten the plow blade to carry the snow past the cleared driveway, although At times the plow blade may be too full and straightening the blade may be difficult due to the weight of the snow or the amount of snow being pushed may roll off both sides of the plow blade causing a berm in both the center of the roadway along with the driveway apron.

We all enjoy city events and would love to see more in Brier. Our team of Parks Board volunteers run the SeaScare Parade, Music in the Park, Dog-O-Ween, Holiday Tree Lighting, Traditional Egg Hunt and more. The Parks Board oversees all event planning, and the city provides modest financial support for equipment, supplies and additional staffing when needed. If anyone has suggestions for future events, the first step would be to attend a Brier Parks Board meeting, held the second Wednesday of each month at 7:00pm.

Not at this time. Residents who've enjoyed taking their dogs to off-leash parks in nearby cities have expressed interest in adding a dog park to Brier's park system. After careful consideration and research, including public testimony and tours of other dog parks, City Council concluded that the costs are just too high for a city as small as Brier. Construction, maintenance, and additional liability insurance expenses just put dog parks out of our league. We'd love to offer Fido a place to run free, but we have to ask dog owners to keep the leash on when in Brier.

Yes. Our website has aged gracefully but is ready for a redesign. This process began in summer 2021, with preliminary content, design and branding discussions. The goal is to have a city website that is simple to navigate, so that citizens can easily find information about city events and get involved in city governance.

No. The city operates on a tight budget and we don't have staff to maintain a Facebook page. Having an active social media presence requires dedicated staff time and also poses data management challenges, in order to comply with the Public Records Act (PRA). Our revised website is intended to be a better resource for residents to find public notices and current information regarding city events.

There are a few closed Facebook community groups administered by local residents; these are private pages and not sponsored by the city. The business of the city must take place before the public, so these closed forums are not the place for official statements or dialogue with the Mayor or Councilmembers. However, city officials love to hear from citizens - so please Contact Us!

Find these documents online on the City Council Agenda and Minutes Page. Agendas for City Council meetings are typically posted to this page the Friday before each meeting, at the same time that they are provided to Councilmembers. By state law, meeting agendas must be posted online no later than 24 hours in advance of the meeting start time. Minutes of City Council meetings are published online after City Council approves them during a regular meeting (usually a 1-2 week delay).

Brier City Council minutes are recorded in the Acrobat format, and are a straightforward recording of actions taken during the meeting: comments, motions, seconds. Members of the public may request a copy of an agenda, agenda packet, meeting recording or meeting minutes by contacting the City Clerk.

Brier is in a solid financial position with a general fund of approximately $3M. The majority of city revenue comes from property taxes collected by the county, and a much smaller portion is derived from sales tax. About 13.6% of each residence's property tax goes to fund the City of Brier, and almost a third of that amount is earmarked for Fire & EMS services. See the Brier Budget FAQ to view the current budget and learn more about the city's budget and sources of funds.

Brier's Annual Budget posted online breaks down revenue and expenses in a fund balance format. Several of the city's funds have restricted balances, so these funds may be spent only in specific ways detailed by municipal ordinance or state law. On the whole, the city maintains a sustainable budget with city staff and emergency services as its largest expenses. The Mayor and City Council are exploring possible options to increase revenue for the city from several sources, and regularly fund projects in collaboration with county and state agencies. Contact Mayor Kaemingk or the City Clerk with questions about the annual budget.

Brier citizens support our police and want to retain our independent police department. We value the security of our community and the small town feeling that comes with local police officers who know our residents and neighborhoods.

Staffing and funding a small police force is an ongoing challenge for small cities - and Brier is no exception. We manage our budget with fiscal prudence, with an eye to the long-term financial health of our city. When negotiating contracts for services and employees, we and are mindful that contracts we enter today set the basis for future negotiations.

Many cities similar in size to Brier have made the decision to contract for law enforcement services with a neighboring city or the county. This includes the cities of Woodway, Kenmore, Shoreline, Granite Falls and Snohomish, and others.

Cities opt for this for several reasons, including the challenges of staying fully staffed and the higher overhead costs for management, training, insurance, equipment, paperwork handling, etc. These costs exist for small and large departments alike, but scale to a lower per-officer cost when a department has more employees.

We could hope that officers would stay in Brier longer if we paid more, but retention is not simply a matter of pay and Brier can't match the salaries that larger cities pay. So why is that?

First, there is overhead and ongoing expenses of maintaining a police force. This includes a police chief, a records person, police cars, maintenance, training, equipment, etc. For Brier that is amortized over far fewer officers than other police departments. It is also why we don't have other specialized capabilities like our neighboring cities. Ultimately, this means we start with a higher percentage of our costs allocated to overhead than larger municipalities.

We do our best to make Brier a great place to work, pay an equitable wage, and offer good benefits. When it comes to compensation, Brier strives to maintain a pay scale equivalent to that of cites that are "comparable" to Brier. Comparable cities for Brier aren't necessarily the cities right next door, like Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace or Kenmore. Rather we look at cities west of the Cascades, of similar size with roughly similar budgets and communities. The selection of comparable cities and compensation analysis is done by both the city and the police union as part of the contract negotiation process.

The second part of the answer is that although pay can sometimes be a short-term help, it does not generally contribute to longer term retention. Many officers are looking for advancement in career, perhaps a broader range of experience, or other opportunities that our city does not afford them. That said, there are some candidates who prefer a smaller city's pace and sense of community.

Brier has "Mutual Aid" agreements with neighboring cities such as Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Edmonds and Mill Creek, where officers from one city will respond to another city's calls for assistance. These agreements are common and serve to promote cooperation between agencies during critical situations.

In July 2021, Brier signed an additional short-term agreement with the Snohomish County Sheriff for coverage during a staffing shortage. The Sheriff's office has agreed to provide an interim Chief and weekend coverage while Brier is interviewing to hire a new Chief of Police and patrol officers. During the week current Brier officers provide in-city patrols.

Brier's police department periodically experiences staffing shortages and operates with fewer than a full complement of seven (a chief & six officers). Today the shortage of officers in Western Washington has Brier competing with bigger cities, making it challenging to attract patrol officers. We have several strong candidates and hope to rebuild our police force by early 2022.

After the police chief's unexpected retirement in July 2021, Brier contracted with an employment firm specializing in law enforcement and public sector executives. With their assistance, we began a broad search for experienced candidates who bring a strong leadership background, can provide vision and engender respect and engagement with our officers. We are starting to receive some initial applications. We are confident that we will find the right leader and will continue to emphasize finding a good match over speedily filling this position.

The minimum lot size in Brier continues to be approximately ¼ acre. There are a few small areas where lots are smaller, mainly due to annexation. New construction within the City of Brier must conform to standards detailed in the Brier Municipal Code, including a maximum lot coverage of 45%, adequate setbacks, structure height, landscaping, tree removal, in addition to the minimum lot size of 12,500 square feet.

It can be disappointing to lose the rural feel of the neighborhood when pasture is subdivided for new housing. However, it is within the land owner's right to develop their property as long as they conform to city and state laws.

Brier has great wooded areas and beautiful big trees. When a lot is subdivided and developed, trees must be removed in order to prepare land for the construction of houses, streets, drainage, and underground holding tanks. Brier's code has strict requirements around tree removal and stormwater management, to preserve a natural landscape and control runoff to protect property and waterways. Sometimes it is possible - and encouraged - to leave original trees, especially at the edges of a developed lot.

When it comes to tree removal, the municipal code controls how trees are removed and replaced. Many trees that are more than 8 inches in diameter are considered "significant trees" and provided additional protection under city code. Tree removal permits must be acquired by a homeowner or developer prior to removing any significant tree. Any healthy significant trees that are removed as part of a development application must be replaced two for one - so two trees planted for each significant tree removed. In time, these new trees should help reestablish a healthy tree canopy.

Plant a tree! Request a City of Brier Tree Certificate with an email to Brier's City Planner. This program, in partnership with the Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association, provides homeowners with $50 vouchers toward the purchase of a tree. Some restrictions apply to the tree species and possible planting locations.

Paine Field opened a commercial terminal in March 2019 and Brier is beneath a flight path. Having a nearby airport is super convenient for locals, but when planes fly right overhead, it can be unpleasant. The airport has limited control of flight paths, but works with the FAA to manage, track, and address noise complaints within a 10-mile radius of the airport (which includes Brier).

Citizens are encouraged to submit a noise complaint or call the hotline: 425-284-0500 regarding planes that are too loud or too low. You'll need to know the day/time that the plane passed overhead, whether it was commercial, freight, private or military, and (if possible) which direction it was headed.

There are some strong feelings about fireworks. Some families love them, some families - not so much. We've heard from responsible citizens who just want to light a few fireworks off on holidays, and from dog-owners, veterans who suffer from PTSD, and firefighters who hope never to hear a firework again. In 2015 a majority of Brier citizens voted in favor of an advisory to ban fireworks within city limits. Following this vote, City Council took action and fireworks have been banned by city ordinance since 2017. All of Brier's surrounding cities have followed suit in recent years by also banning fireworks; and in 2021 Snohomish County added a ban in south county unincorporated areas.

If Brier were to allow fireworks again, we could expect increased fireworks participation and parties from neighboring communities on July 4 and New Year's Day. Even those of us who love the smell of sulfur are forced to admit that it's not a great idea to be the only game in town.

Not right now, though we are looking into it.

Currently the city accepts checks or walk-up payments. Many citizens have auto-payments scheduled through their bank's online bill payment software. Moving the sewer bills online would be a great convenience to Brier residents, but the per-transaction costs have been cost prohibitive - mostly because we are such a small city, with relatively few residents. We continue to work with potential vendors to seek an economical solution and, well - our fingers are crossed that we will have this available by the first of the year.

It may be quite some time. The bridge, which spans Scriber Creek between 214th Pl SW & Elm Way, was scheduled for maintenance & repair in 2022 per Brier's Capital Facilities Plan (last page). However, the bridge has deteriorated further than anticipated, and closed for safety in August 2021. We expect the entire structure will need to be replaced, at a cost estimate of $650,000-$700,000. The design and permitting phases will include consultation with state and possibly tribal agencies, since Scriber Creek is a state-protected waterway. There is no timeline yet for construction.

Next steps are to clarify potential costs and seek additional sources of funding for the bridge's replacement, including grant programs from state agencies. We love this bridge for its practical shortcut and sweet opportunity to view wildlife (Hello, Mr. Otter!), and we'll keep working toward a solution.

Also See - Our Budget FAQ Page

Brier City Hall | 2901 228th St
  • SW | Brier, Washington 98036
    (425) 775-5440 | Fax (425) 672-9025 |

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