by Richard Uhlhorn
On Saturday, March 25, there will be a beach cleanup from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. beginning at Lake Chelan Marina. Anyone interested in keeping our lake bottom clean of garbage and milfoil are invited to join the students from April Slagle’s Chelan Project to help in this endeavor.
SEE YOU ALL THERE
During the Mayor/Council comments at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman Erin McCardle came out with a strong rebuttal to Councilman John Olson’s recent comments regarding what he feels is a Conflict of Interest between Michael Steele’s executive directorship of the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce and his role as the Republican ranking member on the State Legislature’s Finance Committee. According to McCardle, Steele is the ranking member on the State’s Capital Budget committee.
Olson had stated that visitors to Chelan contribute to Chelan’s aging infrastructure and public services, and asked if it was reasonable to pass on those costs to local residents.
McCardle pointed out different ways visitors contribute to replacement of the City’s infrastructure including the 2% Lodging tax which can and is used for capital projects like the upgrades at the Golf Course and RV Park
She mentioned Sales Tax, of which she claims 50 to 60% is generated through tourism dollars. She remarked that Real Estate taxes from new homeowners also contribute to funding many capital projects such as the acquisition of the Library Building, the Parks Building currently under construction, matching funds for the Lakeside Trail grant and Chelan Airport waterline funding.
Property taxes from second home owners also provide revenue allocated to street upgrades and Utility charges generated by second home owners who pay utility fees for the entire year.
McCardle also said she recognizes the need to find a balance between visitors and residents. “It is our job as councilmembers to be stewards across the board.”
There has been discussions within the State on the diversification of lodging tax dollars usage. McCardle stated that Olson’s comment that Steele’s two positions were in conflict was irresponsible and potentially damaging to the City’s relationship with Steele.
“Please recognize that we have a long list of infrastructure needs and he (Steele) is our key to securing state funding for these projects,” said McCardle.
She brought up that Representative Steele has helped procure over $11 million in funding for specific projects and is working on $16 million in funding for 2023.
No one is denying that Representative Michael Steele has done a great job, not only in increasing tourism in Chelan, but bringing in State money for specific projects. It is appreciated.
John Olson and Erin McCardle have differing opinions on the subject of tourism and that is one of the things that makes our City Council vibrant and engaged. No one wants a Council that agrees on every issue.
Olson’s contention and many in the community feel that Chelan has more tourists and visitors than it can reasonably serve well. McCardle’s contention is that more tourism is needed for the revenues it drives.
Since both of them have indicated that they will be running for Mayor against Mayor Bob Goedde, the upcoming 2024 local election season will be quite interesting.
Tim Hollingsworth brought up the possibility of raising the pay for Mayor Goedde four years ago and felt it is a good time to re-address this issue. “I believe this is somewhat in line,” said Hollingsworth. He would like to see a 20% raise for the mayor. “Mayor Goedde puts in a lot of time and it is important to recognize the work that goes into being there,” added Hollingsworth. He would like the rest of the council members to consider the pay raise.
John Olson noted the donation of the Boat Cleaning Station that will be located at the marina. He brought up rough estimates of damage if either Zebra or Gardia mussels were ever allowed to become established in the watershed. “It would cost each dam at least a million dollars a year in maintenance,” he said.
Mayor Goedde said he met with the Chelan County Commissioners and the Boyd Road property is off the board, but that the County offered the City the 20 acres above the Beebe Springs Trailhead on Hwy 150. This property was obtained by the County from the Wa. St. Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Jake Youngren stated that Public Works was contracting with Cascadia for another brush cleanup this spring.
Paul Horne said the late, cold spring weather has delayed the opening of the Golf Course. He also said the Albatross owners are working on building upgrades at the Golf Course.
Wade Farras added that Julie Pittsinger, owner of the Albatross Restuarant is in the process of having the bathrooms and downstairs area remodeled to make it more user friendly.
Self Contained Boat Cleaning Station donated:
Paul Horne, parks director, reported to the Council that Wildlife Forever has donated free of charge a Self Contained Boat Cleaning Station that will be located at the Lake Chelan Marina.
“I worked with Lisa Dowling at Chelan County Natural Resources Department on this acquisition,” said Horne. “There is no match requirement for the donation and no strings attached to the unit,” he added.
There will be periodic maintenance costs associated with the unit from cleaning and/or repairing or replacing components as necessary.
There is an optional lease for software to track usage of the unit and to indicate when the tanks are 80% full. This fee is included for the first year with no obligation to continue the software’s use after that despite the importance of continuing that service.
City Council meets in regular session every second and fourth Tuesday beginning at 6 p.m. Residents and others are encouraged to attend.