The Goldendale City Council had a single major issue on its agenda at its January 4 meeting. That was to approve a contract for former council member Justin Leigh to continue serving as a part-time planner and land use consultant. The motion passed, but not without controversy. Councilor Kevin Feiock voted against the motion, saying that councilors only had two days notice of the proposed contract and were not offered any options and. Councilor Loren Meagher abstained, explaining that Leigh had applied to be on the Board for the Eastern Klickitat Conservation District, where Meagher works as District Manager and Area Engineer. He said that move created a potential conflict of interest in that Leigh would be one of his bosses at the conservation district and Meagher would be voting as a councilor on a contract that would benefit Leigh.
Leigh told councilors that it was his understanding that the position he applied for was an advisory board only and said he would withdraw rather than causing even a perceived conflict.
Feiock and Meagher expressed concern that the contract was not put out for bid and that it could be for a maximum of $60,000 for the year. Councilor Andy Halm noted that the contract specified a rate of $50 per hour and suggested this was a bargain, as the council's regular attorney, who is based in Yakima, charges $210 per hour.
Mayor Mike Canon called for a work session next Monday night to give councilors a chance to discuss the process for contracts such as this in the future. He also noted that the current pandemic had precluded new councilors from attending state meetings normally held to acquaint newly elected officials with their duties, and some of the materials from those meetings would be available for the new councilors.