by Richard Uhlhorn
2023 Property Tax increase:
At last Tuesday’s City Council meeting there was a Public Hearing on the 2023 Property Tax Levy and other Revenue Sources.
The City is allowed to increase its property tax one percent per year and according to outgoing finance director Steve Thornton that increase will be based on $1,711,318.62 and will amount to an increase of $17,113.19 plus $47,321.75 from new construction and $3,437.10 refund from prior years bringing the total amount to $67,863.04.
“That does not mean that everyone’s tax goes up,” said Thornton. Seventy five percent of the property tax revenue goes to Chelan’s Street Fund.
Thornton told the Council that the City had $400,000 more in sales tax revenues this year up to $2.1 million. “I think we will get close to $2.7 million,” he said.
The Planning Department will be bumping up building fees by $525,000.
Lake Chelan Reclamation request:
The Lake Chelan Reclamation District has requested the City sponsor them as a Non-City Entity for the Association of Washington Cities Benefit Trust. The Council unanimously approved a resolution to sponsor the LCRD. The sponsorship is allowed to a non-entity when it has a formal agreement. A sponsorship will allow the Reclamation District to offer employees more affordable insurance rates.
Attorney Services Agreement:
The Council approved a new City Attorney Services Agreement with Davis Arnell Law Firm for 2023. “Costs have gone up and this is a reasonable request,” said City Administrator Wade Ferris. The cost per hour increase to $318.
The Council approved a not to exceed $74,500 Professional Services Agreement with Design West for Design Services of the Parks Maintenance Building. Design West will provide construction administration for the new project.
The City has agreed to a $2,880,000 contract with Halme Builders, Inc. for the construction of the 4,600 sq. ft. building and another $320,000 for construction of a 540 sq. ft. Public Restroom.
The base bid has been reduced by $600,000 by a change order that reduces the building contract to $2,280,000. City Staff will be conducting work on the project that reduces the cost.
Parks Director Paul Horne explained that the building project first went to bid in 2017 and construction costs have risen considerably since that time. Councilman John Olson said, “We are seven years into this. I would like to see it move forward.”
The development of street ends to improve access to the Lake took another step forward at the council meeting. Park Street adjacent to Peterson’s Waterfront is the first street end to be developed. Horne stated that it is a fairly simple plan that includes a sidewalk, some basalt columns, landscaping and benches. “Mark Elliot (Peterson’s Resort) worked well with us,” said Horne. “We are waiting on cost estimates and permitting.”
Horne added that Community Development Director John Ajax has recommended that the City go after permits on all the selected street ends in a comprehensive permitting process. Ajax told the Council that the city would work with Grette Associates Environmental Consultants. Work will hopefully begin in the spring.
Councilman Tim Hollingsworth stated that there were several projects that the City should move forward on including the micro park adjacent to the Chelan Ranger District. “It is low hanging fruit and would be aa benefit to the public.” Horne replied that the Forest Service is very much on board to opening up access to the lake off their property. “The Forest Service is open to making lake access more accessible,” said Horne.
Horne provided the Council with a Don Morse Concept Plan for the Skate Park/Pump Track but Councilwoman Erin McCardle through that plan under the bus and requested that consideration be given to re-locating proposed skate facility to the Chelan Athletic Fields (commonly called Stinky Fields). This is despite the public’s wish to have the facility built in Don Morse Park.
The Skate Park is estimated to cost $750,000 in 2022 dollars. Changing its location could increase that cost considerably. When Horne was asked how many local kids utilize the current skate park, he stated that somewhere between 10 and 15 locals use the park. During peak summer periods Horne says the park has 1,200 to 1,800 people enjoying the park on any given day.
According to Horne, the Don Morse Plan would include ADA trails throughout the park, a promenade along the lake, event space and a new playground. The existing basketball courts would be moved to the concrete pad now used by skaters. The skate park would compliment other athletic venues in the park from the basketball to the volleyball courts.
Horne said more public input on the park is desired. “It is an excellent plan that could be transplanted elsewhere.”
McCardle said the skate park was predominately for the local community. She said that a survey that was held was answered by 70% who did not live in the City and 22% that were 18 and under. “Don Morse is already overcrowded,” said McCardle who wants to explore the South Chelan area and ball fields as a potential location.
McCardle argued that their was a lack of activities for middle school kids. She wants to conduct a survey at the school. Horne replied that a lot of little kids on scooters use the existing park and might not fill out a survey. “This is just an update to get input.
Councilman Mark Ericks asked it the south Chelan area was an appropriate location. He stated that in a past life (law enforcement) that security and safety is always a concern with location. “This design work is really good,” he said.
Horne added that there are not a lot of eyes on the south Chelan location. “The lights are on at Don Morse and there are more eyes on the existing park.”
Tim Hollingsworth agreed with McCardle. “I think it would be better at the community field. Don Morse is crowded.”
John Olson said he like the conceptual plan and added that security an issue at the Community fields. “We put outside lighting at the Senior Center and they were gone within a week.” Olson added that the VFW building also has issues along with Chelan Valley Hope. “It is a problem area and we need to have a cohesive plan.”
McCardle said there needs to be next steps. “We need to look at the concerns at the athletic fields and move forward.”
During Mayor/Council comments, councilwoman Sheri Dietrict said she liked the idea of utilizing the athletic fields because they are close to the schools.
Olson encouraged the City Council to move forward on Chelan Butte Draft Resolution. “The Trust for Public Lands is ready to move forward,” he said.
City Administrator Wade Ferris replied to Olson’s comments on the Butte. “We need to be careful how we do this,” said Ferris. “There are a lot of moving parts with other organizations.” He added that purchasing the Butte brings liability issues to the surface and that the City needs to figure out the best course of action. Ferris suggested a workshop on the Butte issue in December or January.
John Ajax reported that he would be bringing a draft Development Plan for Apple Blossom Center to the next meeting.
Ferris reported that there were 700 touch and goes from the airport in October.
The City Council meets every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. The next council meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 22.