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By Roger Nichols
FOR THE SENTINEL 

City council short a member again

 

January 29, 2020



Last week’s regular Monday city council meeting was moved to Tuesday evening due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

The meeting had a meaty agenda and featured a bare quorum of four of the seven councilors present to cover everything. Justin Leigh had resigned from the council to take a part-time position doing land use and planning, new councilor Loren Meagher was on business in Olympia, and Andy Halm was recovering from an auto accident involving a deer that totaled his car.

Here are some of the issues the skeleton crew tackled: council members did vote to tear down the kitchen building at Ekone Park, following a recommendation made last February by former Public Works Director Karl Enyeart and further supported by an engineer’s report last June that the building was structurally unsound and could be a liability for the city if it were to collapse and injure someone. Councilors had previously tabled the idea in response to a plea from the Farmer’s Market.

Tobias Israel, current president of the Market, told councilors that the building houses a sink and refrigerator as well as a storage area used by his group. Demolishing it would seriously inconvenience the Market, he said, and asked that it not come down until it could be replaced. Mayor Mike Canon noted the city had no money budgeted to replace the building though the concrete pad would remain after demolition. During public comment on the issue, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dana Peck offered the Farmer’s Market the use of the Chamber parking area where it originally started. He pointed out that the updated Chamber office has storage space and access to outside water and electricity, and the Chamber would be happy to host the Market until funds could be found to replace the building.

Councilors also approved a $1,200 per month contract with Krystal’s Janitorial to provide janitorial services to the city and accepted the resignation of councilor Justin Leigh to start part-time land use planner for the city for 100 hours per month at $40 per hour, not to exceed 1,200 hours per year.

The latter move is part of a decision to divide the duties of the public works director rather than find a new director. The engineering role will be shared with Pioneer Surveying and Engineering and RH2 Engineering for water and wastewater treatment. City Administrator Larry Bellamy will take on oversight and administrative duties and contract out land use and planning services.

Only one person applied for that contract, City Council Member Justin Leigh, who has given his letter of resignation from the council. Leigh, who is a lawyer as well as a brewer, said he has been careful to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest by not attending any meetings at the end of the year when the council was voting on budget issues.

Councilor Miland Waling said of Leigh: “I feel it was a good decision for the council to have Justin in his new job,” Waling said. “I’m sorry that he has to step down, but then I think in the future, it’s going to be a benefit to the council.”

That means a search for Leigh’s replacement. Applications are available at City Hall. No closing date was announced at the meeting.

The big spending item for the meeting was for an $83,500 contract with Precision Approach for planning and preliminary design work for installation of aircraft fuel services at the city airport. It’s a necessary first step to secure the balance of a $550,000 grant state grant for upgrade at the airport.

Councilors also approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Klickitat County on affordable housing. That’s the result of Substitute House Bill #1406 which authorized “the governing body of a city or county to impose a local sales and use tax for the acquisition, construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing or facilities providing supportive housing, for the operations and maintenance costs of affordable or supportive housing, and for providing rental assistance to tenants.”

The MOU emphasizes that there will be no new sales tax for Goldendale, Bingen or White Salmon. Instead, the equivalent funds will be deducted from the sales tax already collected by the county, and will represent an additional source of funding to address housing needs in the county. The tax, which will sunset in 20 years, must be used to assist persons whose income is at or below sixty percent of Klickitat County’s median income. The U.S. Census Bureau lists median income for the county 2014-2018 as $54,056. Sixty percent of that would be $32,433.60.

And councilors passed an ordinance that would require people who have bounced three checks in paying water bills would be required in the future to pay by credit or debit card, or cash. That’s the current practice, but it had never previously been made official city policy.

A planned presentation on potential energy savings for the city was postponed and will likely show up at the next council meeting.

 

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