- Board releases statement on hospital… asks for community inputDecember 28, 2018
- TO WATER RESCUE OR NOT…December 26, 2018
- WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO SPAREDecember 21, 2018
- Affordable housing debated at workshopDecember 17, 2018
by Richard Uhlhorn
Mayor Cooney recognized Mark Tesch and his wife Michelle Jerome at the final City Council meeting of the year. Mark, who has been a steady volunteer in the City of Chelan for a number of years and his nurse wife are moving the Methow Valley. Mark is well known for his work over the years with Chelan Valley Players, Earth Day, Bach Fest and other organizations.
The December 18 City Council meeting cleaned up a number of motion considerations to end 2018 business in front of the council. Only a few items generated any concern or conversation amongst the Council members.
The biggest item is also the most controversial item addressed by council this past year and Mayor Cooney moved it up to the front of the agenda because there were a number of developer/builders on hand in the audience.
The 2019 Rate & Fee Resolution which includes all fees charged by the City for services also includes the new GFC charges (General Facilities Charges) and Installation Charges that are required before the issuance of a building permit.
The Council unanimously approved the maximum allowable amount from the 2018 GFC study. Each Equivalent Residential Unit GFC for new water service will be $11,926 and each new sewer service is $5,531. In addition a Reservoir Impact Fee of $1,750 will be charged to all new services within the area formerly known as the Chelan River Isenhart Domestic Water System.
Councilwoman Erin McCardle was not happy with a charge being applied to new homes in Lord Acres that hadn’t been discussed prior to the final Council meeting. “I don’t like things at the 24th hour,” she said.
Councilwoman Erin McCardle brought up another fee being applied to new homes in the Lord Acres area. This is a $1,970 charge that will cover the cost of the new sewer lift station installation there. McCardle was uncomfortable with this charge on the agenda bill. “I don’t like things put on at the last minute,” said McCardle. The Lord Acres Local Facility Charge Area Fee had never been discussed and the City’s consultant, Andy Baker apologized to McCardle and the Council. “I don’t like things at the 24th hour,” replied McCardle.
The City looks to raise approximately $14 million on sewer/water hookup fees with increases on a year to year basis until 2027 when the City anticipates upgrades to the Water Treatment Plant and Sewer Plant.
Mayor Cooney stated that at some time a future council will have to address these issues. “I think the Council is doing the right thing.”
Once approved by the Council, John Walcker, a local developer wishing to build a 36 unit affordable apartment house on 2.5 acres above and east of the football field, said as he left the meeting, “It costs more to hook up sewer and water than it does to buy the property.” Walcker has also noted that Chelan has the highest hookup fees in the State.
Prosecuting Attorney Mike Shea was on hand to answer City Council questions regarding his office and request for an increase in funding.
Prosecuting Attorney Mike Shea was on hand to answer Council questions regarding the new proposed Prosecution Services Agreement. Chelan has contracted with the Prosecutors Office since 2004 and the new proposal is identical to previous versions with the exception of price.
Since 2012, the City has paid $44,100 and the new agreement asks for an increase to $50,000 and for a one year term. Past contracts have been for a two year period.
Shea stated that other Cities that the office contracts with pay $250 per case and that Chelan is the only City with a flat fee agreement. He added that based on a per case basis, Chelan would be paying approximately $70,000.
He suggested that the City pay $50,000 and then $60,000 in the second year raising the two year average to $55,000 to bring the costs to parity with other cities in the County.
“What I propose,” said Shea, “Is to charge $50,000 flat rate billed out four times a year.” The Prosecuting Attorney’s office prosecutes local cases like DUIs, etc. “The City of Leavenworth has reduced their numbers,” said Shea. “Each 911 all is expensive.”
Councilman Ty Witt asked where the money goes that is awarded in court cases.
Councilman Ty Witt asked where the money goes when the prosecutor wins and the guilty has to pay a fine. “Where does that money go,” he asked. Shea replied that a lot of that money goes back to the court for operational expenses. “We don’t get a kick back.”
Mayor Cooney commented that the City has a pretty big jump in Sheriff’s Department costs between 2017 and 2018. “I’d welcome a meeting with the Sheriff and others to discuss how policing is done in our town,” commented Cooney.
Shea replied, “I think that is a good idea. Councilman Tim Hollingsworth said it makes sense to get billed on a per case basis, but is concerned that the Council hasn’t seen representatives from the Sheriff’s Department on a regular basis. “We are responsible of how we are being policed.” He also stated that the City needs a discussion on water safety.
Councilman Tim Hollingsworth remarked that the City needs to be responsible for the policing wihin the City.
Also on the agenda items was a Legal Services Extension with Davis Arnell Law Firm. Davis Arnell has provided legal services with the City since 2004 and asked for a retainer increase from $1,750 to $1,900 per month, and an increase from $180 to $190 per hour. This is the first rate increase requested since 2017.
“They have provided outstanding services,” said City Administrator Mike Jackson. “Not just in litigation, but also avoiding litigation,” he added.
City Attorney Quentin Batjer that if the Council would like to talk about the increase request, he was more than willing to do that. Witt asked if there was a competitive bidding process for the services. Batjer said there could be if that is what the City Council wanted to do.
Mayor Cooney stated that Batjer’s nature is to be conservative and steady without looking for ways to make more money.
The Council unanimously approved another year of services with Davis-Arnell.
A number of other agenda items were also passed including the new 2019 City Budget; the 2019 Airport Budget; a new Rally Alley Concession Agreement; CJs Concession at Don Morse Park; Kahiau Volleyball Sand Court Use Agreement Renewal.
The next City Council meeting is on Tuesday, January 8. The public is encouraged to attend.