by Richard Uhlhorn
Chelan City Council had a long and engaging conversation regarding the City’s Recycling and Waste Management rates for the next four years.
At last week’s City Council Workshop, the staff had proposed a 2021 increase in waste management charges to $21.29 plus $9.10 for recycling for a new monthly charge per resident with a 64 gallon cart.
Council person Erin McCardle told staff and other Council members that she felt a monthly increase of almost $6.00 per resident was too much considering the fact that the populace has been undergoing financial and other hardships during the Pandemic.
At that same workshop, Tim Hollingsworth asked it there was a way the City could spread out the increased costs over several years. Finance Director Steve Thornton stated he would look at different rate structures that would help.
The conversation at Tuesday’s, January 12, Council Meeting discussed several options including the possibility of dropping the recycling program to save residents money. The Solid Waste Fund has a surplus of $400,000 in it, which the City would like to maintain.
The City’s consultant, Chris Bell said that the recycling program is an incredibly expensive program. The City had asked both Waste Management and Zippy if they would be interested in servicing the City’s recycling program, both of which said they weren’t interested unless it included garbage pickup also.
In addition, 75 percent of Chelan’s residents are utilizing the recycling option and reducing their garbage output. “Hopefully the recycling program will increase and add to the fund balance,” said Bell after noting that cardboard is increasing in price.
McCardle also told Bell and the City that a red flag was raised when Bell suggested that businesses help subsidize the cost of residential garbage pick up. “We need to recalibrate,” said McCardle. “I don’t think businesses should be subsidizing residents.” Mayor Goedde agreed with McCardle. Hollingsworth said that the workshop figures mounted to sticker shock.
Finance Director Thornton stated that if the City delays the increase, the increase in collection would have to be higher next year, but McCardle stated that as more households come on line, it would help to balance the revenue stream.
John Olson stated he’d like the City to stay the course with the recycling program. “Seventy-five percent use is huge,” said Olson. Servando Robledo seconded Olson’s comment
Public Works Director Jake Youngren stated that he doesn’t want the Public Works Department to get into an uncomfortable spot. He added that it looked like Council would vote on the new rate schedule at the next Council meeting.
The Council unanimously approved the City’s new Rate and Fee Resolution No. 2021-1385.
The only changes were to the Lakeside RV Park’s rate structure which will see a five percent increase over the next three years beyond 2021. This upcoming year, the rates will remain the same as last year because registration is already open and the park is filling up.
Golf Course rates for 2021 will increase by seven percent over 2020.
The Council also discussed what it wanted on its Legislative Priorities list for 2021.
Last year, one of the top priorities was to provide Pedestrian Safety in Downtown Chelan between 97A and SR150. At the time, the Department of Transportation was scheduled to pave 97A from Lakeside to Wall Mart, a DOT program that has been delayed. A part of that program was a $700,000 proposal from the City for the DOT to provide 21 Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons to provide safe pedestrian crosswalks along the state highways in the City.
McCardle said it would be nice to understand where the State and City were on the issue. “I’m not clear where they are,” said McCardle. “It would be great to have an understanding. Should this be on our Legislative list or not,” she asked. Mayor Goedde replied that he didn’t think the City has a problem.
McCardle said there were some high priority spots and Hollingsworth suggested that . Mike Steele find out why it is so hard for the City to get (state) funding. He then mentioned the required infrastructure required on Henderson Road for low income housing. Mayor Goedde asked how far that request would go. Hollingsworth replied tht it was where money can be used. “Low income housing take s a lot of money.”
Chris Baker said he’d heard that the proposal was to turn Woodin Avenue from the stoplight to Les Schwab into a three lane (left hand turn lane in the middle) from the current five lanes. Mayor Goedde said, “We don’t have a problem. City residents don’t want it. How it ends up… we’ll (have to wait) see.”
The Council agreed that the $7 million dollar Chelan Butte Conservation Funding be taken off the list. McCardle said, “It isn’t something we want on the list this year.” Goedde remarked that it wasn’t going very far anyway. Hollingsworth said there is talk that a buyer is interested in that property.
For the Butte Property to be purchased for preservation by the City would require a lot of donations, grant funding and state funding to make it a reality. “I agree with Erin.”
John Olson brought up a new item for the Legislative Priority list. “I want to add more public access to the lake,” said Olson. “We’ve got to be planning for this.” City Administrator Wade Ferris said he would work with Parks Director Paul Horne on this issue.
Baker stated that he would like the City to move forward on the Spader Bay property and would also like the City to get behind the Community Center that will begin construction next spring.
Lakeside Park will remain on the priority list. “That’s a big priority,” stated Hollingsworth. “We need to increase capacity. The parking issue is also there. That is a project that deserves State money because people from all over use it.” Horne said he is waiting to hear from the Recreation and Conservation Office. Last year the City was ranked 14th and the RCO only funded 11 projects.
Mayor Goedde also stated that the City is still working on getting water to the airport so it can be developed. Ferris stated that the City supports effort to bring water to the airport.
A final list will be presented at the next Council meeting for approval.