Chelan Fire swears in Karyl Oules

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by Richard Uhlhorn

Chelan Fire & Rescue’s scheduled fire commission meeting had a number of issues to address before the new year including the passage of the 2020 budget, swearing in Karyl Oules as the commissioner to replace Jay Witherbee’s slot he abandoned several months ago.

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Administrative Assistant Carol Kibler swore in Karyl Oules as Chelan Fire & Rescue’s new commissioner replacing Jay Witherbee who left several months ago.

The first item of business after sitting Oules was to nominate Phil Moller as chairman of the board. He accepted this nomination and will take over the position in January.

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Administrative Assistant Carol Kibler was nominated again as the secretary of the board and she accepted the nomination.

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Commissioner Phil Moller was nominated and accepted the position of Chairman on the Chelan Fire District #7 board.

Chief Mark Donnell explained that he only had October’s financials and hopes to have both November and December financials ready for the January meeting.

Donnell also reported that all of the capital projects that had been budgeted for 2019 have been completed including getting water to Station 75.

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Chief Mark Donnell

Incident report:

 Donnell reported that the District responded to 62 calls in November including the House fire in Manson and a garage fire in Union Valley. He also remarked on the Beebe Bridge accident that ended with a child being airlifted to Wenatchee.

Commissioner Moller asked if he has heard what her condition is and Donnell replied he didn’t, but would check.

There were two accidents near Station 75, one of which knocked the power box off of its block. “The driver of the vehicle has taken car of the repairs,” said Donnell. The other accident was a driver who hit his accelerator instead of his brakes. “There was one individual seriously injured,” said Donnell.

Time Out times:

 Station 71 continues to get out of the fire station in record time. E71 is down to 1:39 and R71 is down to 1:33. The average out of the station time is 2:52 reported Donnell. T75 has a timeout time of 8:30, but Donnell explained that is because it is an all volunteer station which means the volunteers are coming from home or work. “The national average is 9 minutes for Volunteer Districts,” said Donnell.

Donnell said call volumes are typically slower this time of year. “Fortunately, we have had no significant fire losses this November.”

However, Donnell reported that the District has had some significant facility issues. The heat system at Station 75 is out and it is now being heated with space heaters until a new system can be installed. “We have had nothing but issue over the past five years,” said Donnell. It will cost $7,500’s to replace the heating elements and Donnell added, “We might have to replace the system and use a PUD rebate program.” The space heaters are keeping the station at a cool 58 degrees and down to 50 degrees on colder days/nights.

At Station 73, someone knocked off the electronic panel at the post. “It wasn’t from snowplowing,” said Donnell. “There was signs of people doing donuts. We’ve reported it to the Chelan County Sheriff’s office and filed with our insurance.”

Pateros has offered $500 for the 71 chassis and Donnell said the District should accept that offer because up until Pateros’ offer, there had been no offers forthcoming.

He stated that all of the vendors who attended this year’s fair have agreed to come back next year. The District is working on the development of a Public Information Team (PIO) including the use of social media.

The District has applied for a 2019 DNR Phase II grant for $12,000, but that is a matching grant, so the District would have to match the $12,000. If it is obtained it would be used to replace a wildland fire truck 6X6 chassis.

He has talked to Chiefs Oatey and Asher and hopes to get Chief Arnold Baker to come along for equipment replacement. “If it is a regional effort, it has a better chance,” said Donnell.

Assistant Chief Brandon Asher:

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Assistant Chief Brandon Asher

Asher reported that four new recruits have signed on including in Entiat and Orondo. He also reported that he is currently cleaning up staff roster. Five volunteers have been removed from the roster because they can’t commit. One is leaving for Everett Fire Department.

Asher has instigated a new program for those “Out-Of-Area” firefighters who have been coming to Chelan to work shifts. “I am requiring that that agree to work four shifts of 4/12s,” said Asher. These personnel come from Wenatchee and East Wenatchee.

Only one shift is covered for December and none for January, reported Asher. “We see that improving.”

The Chelan Fire Academy is becoming more regional in scope with five agencies participating. “We hopefully will get some help from these agencies with instruction,” said Asher.

Fire Fighter Association:

“Chelan Fire Association raised $41,000
at its recent Firelight Gala.”

 Dan Crandall, president, reported that the association had $9,608.00 in its checking account, but that the Firelight Gala raised $41,000 and the SUP Cup added $8,000.00 to the coffers for a total of $54,589.00.

“A lot of things happening over the last month,” said Crandall. The association has given $1,000 to Chelan Valley Thrive. They also give a $500 Walmart gift certificate for kids to go shopping with first responders. “The Sheriff’s Department was also involved.”

The Washington Association of Businesses of Olympia gave the Association $1,000 and toys to Chelan Fire & Rescue. “We gave that money and gifts to Chelan Valley Thrive,” said Crandall.

Commission comments:

 Moller said he would like to see the District build on its Recruit Academy.

Jones remarked that the Sheriff’s Department is pleased with the Chelan Fire & Rescue boat and its ability to respond to events on the water. Moller added that it is a perfect opportunity to work with the District’s partners. Jones ended the meeting with a remark that the District now has a resource that will be called upon.

Karyl Oules thanked everyone for their support in the recent election.

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Karyl Oules listens intently during her first commission meeting.

She also remarked that she had heard that Shawn Sherman did an incredible job at the bridge accident.

“I want to hear from people,” said Oules. People who want to reach out, can contact Karyl through the department and/or her Facebook page. “I’m meeting with a group of people to listen,” she said.

She will be on KOZI on the Thursday, December 19, at 8 a.m. with the Chief.

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NEW TRAIL COMING TO CHELAN
by Richard Uhlhorn

The Lake Chelan Trails Alliance was formed in 2016 with the plan to build and promote Trails in the Lake Chelan Valley. “Our mission is to get out in front like Wenatchee and the Methow have,” said Guy Evans who was present at the Chelan City Council meeting on November 26 to give an overview of the groups ambitions and its new upcoming trail in Reach 1 of the Chelan River Gorge.

According to Evans to permitting is complete, a required cultural survey is completed and the trail is ready for construction this coming Spring. “It will be 1.8 mile dirt trail,” said Evans. The lower loop will be constructed in the 100 year flood plain down to the riparian zone.

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The trail will access the river area of Reach One.

The Alliance has $10,000 budgeted for the construction. “We plan on bringing in a bobcat (trail machine),” Evans told the council. The trail will be maintained by the Alliance. “It is designed to be low maintenance like trails at Echo Ridge.”

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The new Reach 1 Trail will take off from the existing PUD Trail and take the hiker into Reach One by the river and around a loop.

Chelan County PUD requires that the City of Chelan be involved and ultimately responsible for the trail.  Current City Administrator Mike Jacksonsaid that the City’s liability is covered by State Recreational Law and the City’s insurer (WCIA). “The Alliance is also insured,” said Jackson.

City Attorney Quentin Batjer gave a broad overview of the PUD/City contract for the trail on PUD property. “The PUD doesn’t like contracts with private entities,” said Batjer. The agreement is for 10 years, but can be terminated by a one year notice. “It will have to be approved by the PUD before anything happens.

The trail construction will be accomplished with volunteer labor to escape the “Prevailing Wage” law. Volunteers will be required to sign waivers.

Two contracts will be in place; one between the City and PUD and the second between the City and Alliance.

Councilman Ray Dobbs asked what the financial impact will be for the City. Jackson replied that it will be minor. “This is a perfect relationship between local government and private enterprise. It doesn’t obligate the PUD or the City.”

The future plan is to extend the trail up on the plateau above the new trail.

Back Story:

The PUD Reach Trail System proposals were first outlined in the Lake Chelan Trails Association’s Comprehensive Trail Plan which was finalized in October, 1995 after five years and close to $10,000 to complete.

During the Relicensing process of the Chelan Dam, the team concerned with recreation requested that the PUD provide recreational trails in Chelan River’s Reach 1 and 2. It was also requested that Reach 3 be considerd as a potential adventure hike.

These requests were made at the same time American Whitewater was successfully arguing about opening the Chelan River and Gorge to whitewater rafting, an activity tht was finally approved and takes place every September on the river.

The trail requests were denied because of the PUD’s liability concerns. However, the PUD did provide a trail to the river that accessed the very upper section of Reach 1 and it is used by residents and visitors throughout the year.

The Lake Chelan Trails Alliance has taken on the development of trails in the Lake Chelan Valley, and the new Reach 1 trail will be a welcome addition to the valley.

City Council approves Public Work project bids totaling $1,842,758

by Richard Uhlhorn

The City Council meeting on November 26 was full of last of year issues including a public hearing on the upcoming 2020 budget that will be approved at December 10th’s meeting.

At a workshop on December 3, the final budget issues were amended by the Finance Director Steve Thornton. These amendments included late requests for city funding.

Chelan Valley Hope (CVH) requested $10,000 from the City to help with emergency housing needs in the valley. This request was downgraded to $6,000.00 and was discussed by the Council. Councilman Ray Dobbs asked that it be upgraded to the original $10.000. Councilman Tim Hollingsworth stated that CVH had a specific goal for the request in a detailed letter. “Chelan Valley Hope has been a pretty effective organization,” said Hollingsworth.

At the Council meeting CVH’s Michael Gibbs told the Council that CVH was Chelan’s only Social Service Agency. He explained the need for funding for gas, food vouchers and emergency housing. Gibbs reported that from November 2018 to May 2019 took care of housing for 22 individual and helped 72 individuals in crisis mode. “The need for emergency shelters is huge,” he said.

It was also discussed that the City needs to come up with specific criteria for requests, and long before the time to approve the budget. City Administrator Mike Jackson stated that criteria for funding requests should be prepared for next year’s funding requests. “I’d like to have it ready in the Spring,” said Hollingsworth.

The other late request was from the Food Bank who requested an additional $6,000.00. Both were granted.

Other amendments included the Capital Improvement Fund, Recreation Improvement Fund, Street Capital Improvements Fund, Water Capital Improvements Fund, Sewer Improvements Fund, and the 2019 Operations Budget amendments. These will all be covered when the budget is adopted on December 10.

Spader Bay Phase I Environmental Site Assessment was on the Consent Agenda and was pulled of for discussion. Jackson told the Council that the seller has accepted the City’s offer of $400,000 for the property and as of November 9, the City has 90 days to do its due diligence. “We are working on an easement arrangement and making progress,” said Jackson. The council unanimously agreed to the ESA.

But, when the Motion Considerations came up, and Jackson explained that it was time to authorize the Mayor to finalize and execute the Professional Services Agreement with J.A. Brennan and Associates for the development of Waterfront Access Concept Designs that included Spader Bay, Councilwoman Erin McCardle asked that Spader Bay be removed from the agreement. “I don’t want to spend money on something that does not have a lot of public support,” stated McCardle.

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McCardle said the property was completely separate from the other water access sites and that it wasn’t even City property yet. “We have not had any discussions on what we are going to do with that property,” said McCardle.

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Hollingsworth stated that he felt Jim Brennan did a good job, but stood with McCardle on the request to remove it from the agreement. “Some other properties should take priority,” said Hollingsworth. Councilwoman Wendy Isenhart worries that the City will lose momentum if they don’t include the property in the concept plans, but Councilwoman Kelly Allen said it should be kept as open space initially.

The property was removed from the agreement.

The Council held a number of public hearings beyond the budget hearing. They included the No-See-Um Golf Course Addition Short Plat – Golf Course Mitigation Agreement.

Because of the possibility of golf balls being hit into Hole # 17 landing on the new property, conditions of approval require the Developer to enter into an agreement with the City to participate in constructing measures to reduce that likelihood. Planning Director Craig Gildroy said they were looking at a lot of recommendations including planting, trees or the actual moving of the hole to protect the public

A public hearing on the Annexation of 9.2 acres adjacent to Anderson Road was also approved. Hollingsworth abstained from the decision on the annexation because he is a board member of the Chelan Valley Housing Trust and the area will potentially become an area for affordable housing development.

The Council approved the Short Term Rental Code that adds short term rentals to the City Business License.

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Councilman Ray Dobbs said he has had people ask if short term rentals would be allowed in residential areas. Gildroy replied that they wouldn’t be allowed. “We have enough room for both,” said Gildroy.

Councilman Ty Witt asked about enforcement of the new code. Gildroy said the department is doing a good job of enforcement. “Code enforcement will come into play when there are complaints,” said Gildroy.

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Councilman-elect John Olson stated that five years ago, employers couldn’t find employees. “There were signs all over town,” stated Olson. He said that the affordable housing crisis is a global phenomena and that over the last five years, Leavenworth has outlawed short term rentals.

He also indicated that in the Manson UGA there were 61 legal short term rentals and 110 illegal rentals, along with 1,600 short term rentals county wide.

“Chelan’s process has been great,” said Olson. “Craig and his staff have done an admirable job.”

Public Works had a number of bids on projects which the Council entertained as a whole. The included:

 

  1. The WillmorthTransmission Main Project. Selland Construction bid $910,771.34 including WA. St. Sales Tax. The Engineers Estimate was $1,300,000.00.
  2. RH2 Engineering bid $177,975.00 to provide a scope and fee estimate for the Willmorth Project.
  3. KRCI, LLC bid $618,536.12 for the Water Treatment Plant Interior and Exterior Valve and Instrumentation Replacement project.
  4. RH2 Engineering bid $103,172.00 for engineering services on this project.
  5. KRCI bid $25,318.80 for the Parkview Road Water Main Replacement Project. The engineers estimate was $25,000.
  6. RH2 Engineering bid $9,995.00 to provide engineering services on the project.
  7. Chaparrel Fence Co. bid $11,986.99 for fencing around Lift Station #15.

These project bids were approved by the Council without exception.

In addition, Kelly Allen Insurance exercised her lease arrangement for the old Chamber building for two more years at $1,545.00 per month.

The Council also approved retaining Davis Arnell Law Firm for 2020 City Attorney Services at $1,900 retainer fee and $190 per hour. This is an extension with no changes from the 2019 contract.

The Council approved the Prothman City Administrator Recruitment Proposal for Professional Recruitment Services of a new city administrator at $18,500.

Prothman’s expenses will vary depending on the design and geographical scope of the recruitment services. They do not mark up expenses and work to keep expenses to a minimum. The City will be responsible for reimbursing expenses that the company incurs on the City’s behalf.

  • Newspaper, trade journal, websites and other advertising – $1,700 to $1,900.
  • Direct Mail announcement – $1,900 to $2,100
  • Interview binders & printing of materials – $500 to $700
  • Delivery expenses of Interview Binders – $300 to $500
  • Consultant travel: mileage at IRS rate, travel tie at $50 per hour, lodging if required – $600 to $800 per per trip
  • Background checks performed by Sterling – $150 per candidate

Other expenses would include candidate travel which cannot be estimated.

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Jenna Rahm presented an update on PUD activities in the area. She covered the Transmission Pole Fire Hardening Project that goes from Chelan Falls to Union Valley. “If there is another fire, it would have no impact on these poles,” said Rahm. She said the PUD has talked with property owners on proposed pole locations.

She also updated the Council on the PUD’s Substation Projects. The PUD is proposing a new substation in the Chelan River Gorge area which would require relocation of a portion of the pubic trail.

The Northshore Substation is moving forward and the PUD will begin design elements soon.

The Council will meet in regular session on December 10 beginning at 6 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend these meetings. Public concerns not on the agenda can be addressed to the Council during the Citizen Comment Period just prior to the Agenda items.

Fire Commission approves 2020 Budget

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by Richard Uhlhorn

Chelan County Fire District #7 held its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, November 20 and opened its public comment period with Cathy Lemon telling the commissioners and firefighters how proud Tim was of them and how much he missed the District after leaving.

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Cathy Lemon visited the District to thank them for their
outpouring support over Tim’s passing. 

“My personal opinion,” said Lemon, “Is that paid and volunteer fire departments (normally) don’t work. But it works here.” She went on to say that because it works in Chelan, it makes the community safe. “Tim was a 24/7 fire chief here. He made this community his top priority. He loved this town.”

Mrs. Lemon went on to explain that Tim didn’t know he was sick. “He thought he had hurt his ribs,” she stated. The eventual prognosis was pancreatic cancer, which claimed Tim Lemon’s life shortly after that diagnosis.

“He loved you guys a lot. Thank you for reaching out tome. You really made his legacy.”

She was followed by a retired fire fighter who stated he was concerned about the District’s staffing. “What are the goals for moving forward staff,” he asked. “I’m really concerned about staffing. Is there anything in the plan for increasing staff.”

Commission Chair Russ Jones told him that was a part of discussion coming up regarding the upcoming budget.

Mayor Cooney, representing the Chelan Valley Housing Trust, stated that the house burn on Emerson this past Saturday was flawless. “It was an excellent job. We will look for more houses after this one helped us get started.” The location on Emerson is the first CVH Trust property for new affordable homes to be built on.

Jones noted that the audience at the meeting was up in attendance. “We don’t get a lotof input from the community,” said Jones. “The internet is not really a credible source.”

Chief’s report:

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Chief Mark Donnell

Chief Mark Donnell stated that October’s call volume was down. The District did respond to a barn fire up in Union Valley by the Rodeo grounds. “It was fully involved and there was considerable damage to property inside.”

District 7 also responded to a house fire in Manson. “It rekindled,” said Donnell. There was a disconnect and not a very good response from Manson crews. “We think it is a dispatch issue,” said Donnell.

The District responded to five fires, 35 rescue and emergency medical services, three hazardous conditions, two service calls, four good intent calls, six false alarms, and one special incident type call on the month of October.

Donnell talked about Time Out times and for E71, it is down to 2:22 from the time the call comes in and the truck is out the door. The hope is to reduce that time to 2 minutes flat. Time out time will differ depending on the station.

He reported that Brush 74 has a transmission issue and that John Goyne says it will cost around $3,600 to fix, so they will look for another chassis and get rid of this one which came from the DNR. “We’ve been contacted by the DNR and we are on the list.”

Donnell reported that there were 20,751 fire related deaths in the United States so far this year of which 46 were in Washington State. There was also $150 million in loss property from fire.

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Assistant Chief Brandon Asher

Assistant Chief Brandon Asher reported that he has recruited two more volunteers in Entiat, one for Station 72 and one for Station 71. “Hopefully we will get another guy for Station 75 (southshore). Recruitment is picking up.”

Asher stated that the District has lost one volunteer for performance issues. The Stipend Program has zero signed up for November, December and January. “We hope to change that.”

“The fire went well,” said Asher. “We had zero injuries and it went about as well as it could go.” Asher stated that Chelan, Manson, Entiat and Orondo were involved in the training. “That’s why we are getting grants,” said Asher who stated that regional efforts drive grants.

The Fire Fighters Association rasied $42,000 at their Fire Gala with $18,000 going to a dedicated fund to help the District with need purchases with the caveat that the District match that funding.

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Budget public hearing:

 Chief Donnell went through the budget and reminded everyone that the actual dollars presented on the budget was a moving target. Tax Revenue for 2020 is based on the one percent increase over the 2019 budgeted tax revenue at $2,069,494.00. Revenue from new construction is anticipated to be $44,713.00 and other sources will remain at $10,000.00 unless 2020 brings State Mobilization money from fire activity.

The District’s starting fund is $600,000. After District expenses, the ending balance should be $664,134.00 with a desired carry over of $600,00 in 2021. Uncommitted funds would be $64,134.00.

He started his presentation with the District’s 2020 Organizational Goals as follows:

  • Training;
  • Community Relations;
  • Staff Retention;
  • Future Funding; and
  • Measurable Goals
    a. Turnout times down to two minutes
    b. Retaining an effective workforce for critical tasks
    c. Fire loss versus Fire Valuation
    d. Fiscal responsibility to manage budget
    e. Maintain a clean annual audit.

Donnell explained that the District is responsible for 125 square miles of territory and that only one station is staffed full time with two firefighters.

He also said that insurance could go up because of the losses in California. “Insurance companies are beginning to say they won’t insure because they don’t want to take the risk.”

Donnell stated that that the Department requests an audit by the State yearly instead of every three years.

This year, Donnell said, “The community loves the fact there was no smoke in the valley, but we had zero dollars come in from State Mobilizations. This has an affect on our budget.”

He said the District has designated $102,000 on Capital Projects for 2020 as follows:

  • Administration
    Server Replacement                              $5,000.00
    Lock change out                                     $3,000.00
  • Suppression Equipment
    PF Equipment Request                         $4,000.00
    Structural Protective Clothing            $6,000.00
    Wildland Protective Clothing              $8,000.00
    Dormitory Improvements                  $13,000.00
  • Training
    Props (Station 74)                                   $5,000.00
    Rescue Swimmer Gear                          $2,000.00
  • Fleet
    Scan Tool Kit                                           $6,000.00

Donnell told the commissioners that the IT bids for a new server services came in significantly higher than anticipated.

He said that wildland gear purchases would be spread over two years.

No tax revenue will be coming into the District until May.

Commissioner Jones said there have been comments about having a seventh career firefighter but that it actually saves the District money on overtime. “The math works out when we don’t have to pay overtime,” said Jones. When a career firefighter is on leave, or out of district training, or sick, the seventh career firefighter steps into take that position over.

The Commissioners signed the budget resolution with a one percent increase as allowed by law. That additional one percent will bring in an additional $75,000 based on annual valuation. “The perception is that when valuations go up, our revenues go up. That isn’t the case,” said Jones. “It doesn’t make a lot of difference for our revenue.”

Jones said the commission will begin to look at what the District needs when it approaches 2022 and the SAFER grant disappears.

Jones asked commission candidate elect Karyl Oules if she had any questions or concerns with the 2020 budget. She stated that Chief Donnell satisfied her 16 bullet points. “He covered everyone for me,” said Oules.

The District tested three career candidates to take the retiring Evan Woods place and Taylor Raines was promoted and pinned at the meeting on Wednesday. His wife, Samantha, did the pinning and he was congratulated by the Chief and Russ Jones.

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Commissioners Phil Moller and Russ Jones will be joined by either Karyl Oules or Bill Bassett after the Chelan County Assessor certifies the election. At this time it looks as Karyl Oules is the winner of that seat. 

Commissioner comments:

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Commission Chair Russ Jones

Jones commented that a lot of people offer their perspective over social media. “I think our budget meeting was pretty transparent,” said Jones. “One hour after that meeting I had a threatening email. People are too willing to hide behind a keyboard. There is no hidden agenda and my hope is that in the future we see more people providing input.”

City directs finance director to bring a levy ordinance to assess a 1% increase in property taxes

 

by Richard Uhlhorn

Mayor Mike  Cooney invited Les Miller, a 90 year old WWII veteran to the City Council meeting on Tuesday, November 12 as a special presentation. With Veteran’s Day just past, it was a special moment for the veteran and his wife, Nancy who accompanied him.

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Mayor Cooney introduced 90-year old WWII Veteran Les Miller to those in attendance at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, November 12.  Miller was in the 101st Airborne and served all three military branches over his time.

Miller was a part of the 101st Airborne and actually served in the Army, Navy and Air Force as a radio control expert. Miller was also a part of the military group ordered in to help with the Little Rock, Arkansas desegregation efforts.

Miller said the National Guard was already at the Little Rock situation when the Airborne arrived to help. “The National Guard was not ready for this and they anticipated trouble,” said Miller. The Airborne troops had loaded rifles with bayonets attached. “Everything went smoothly.”

Citizen comments:

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Incoming City Council member John Olson gave the results of a Citizen’s Concern Survey he conducted at the Post Office while campaigning for his council seat.

Council elect John Olson was the only resident to speak during the Citizen Comment period. He brought his “Citizen Concern Survey” results to report to the Council. “I had 14 non-specific questions for residents to answer,” said Olson.

He conducted the survey outside of the Post Office while campaigning for his city council position. “I wanted to listen to people and hear their concerns,” he told the Council. His survey was casual, non-scientific, but just an informal opinion poll. He asked the citizens willing to take the survey to list their three most important concerns. He received 63 comment cards back.

“I didn’t expect the biggest response I got,” said Olson who also replied that it wasn’t even a question on his survey. The response was; “Nobody listens to me.” “They ‘re going to do what they (cit council) want to do,” and “My voice doesn’t count”

Olson found these responses to be sad and discouraging. “There is a great deal of anst out there and we need to work on that. I look forward to working with all of you.”

Responses received:

  • 27 marked – Re-Route thru-traffic around downtown;
  • 27 marked – Keep Chelan a small town;
  • 23 marked – Protection of (lake) water quality and quantity;
  • 21 marked – Increase public access to the lake; and
  • 21 marked – Limit mega projects and urban sprawl.

Pubic Hearing on 2020 Property Tax Levy:

 No one in the citizenry commented during the public hearing portion of the Finance Director’s request to bring forward a levy ordinance assessing a 1% increase in property taxes in addition to new construction and refunds.

The preliminary assessed value for 2020 is $1,253,018,694. This might change slightly before collections. The one percent increase over last year’s levy would be $15,509.64 giving a potential City budget amount less new construction and annexations $1,563,808.33.

In addition to property taxes, the City will receive more in sales taxes this year because the State began collecting sales tax on Internet sales which were not previously taxed.

The City’s Development fees are projected to increase by $28,000 or by 11%.

 

 

Chelan Fruit:

 The City Council voted to continue its waiver for Chelan Fruit to get a cash security to complete street frontage improvements at their new construction. This extension will end on December 9, 2019 with all other terms and conditions of the waiver with Trout-Blue Chelan Magi, Inc. to remain in effect as defined on September 24, 2019 and as per the temporary certificate of occupancy.

“We will hopefully reach an agreement by that time,” said City Administrator Mike Jackson.

Administrative Reports:

 Legislative Priorities:

  • Provide Pedestrian Safety in downtown Chelan between HWY. 97 and SR 150.
  • Affordable Housing
  • Chelan Butte Conservation Funding
  • Lakeside Park Improvements
  • The City also supports the Regional Transportation Projects.”I have a meeting with Mike Steele on Friday to see what Representative Steele’s legislative priorities might be,” said Jackson. “Steele might have some opinions.” Jackson also requested that the Council come forward with some ideas.

“Let’s make sure we bring forward one capital project,” stated Jackson. Councilman Ray Dobbs asked if it was appropriate to bring in new council members and Mayor-elect Bob Goedde. Jackson replied, “Not formally, but yes.”

Short term rentals:

Public Works Director Craig Gildroy stated that the Planning Commission has finished its review of the proposed Short Term Rental proposed code. There is a workshop on November 26 prior to the City Council meeting.

The proposal will add short term rentals to the City Business License Code.

The basic provisions of the code states that all short-term rentals are subject to licensing requirements, health and safety standards, and fees set forth in the Chelan Municipal Code 5.1.5.

Owners of Short Term Rental properties must purchase a City business license and Property Managers must obtain a Short Term Rental License under the proposed code.

Councilman Dobbs asked Gildroy what his plan was. Gildroy replied that the City would put short term rentals in advertising and rely on short term rental neighbors to be a part. “Neighbors are a big part of this,” said Gildroy. Complaints will help the city enforce its code.

Finance Director Steve Thornton said there would be a public hearing on a resolution for the property tax increase on November 26. On December 3, the Council will hold one more budget workshop and then on December 17 at the regularly scheduled Council meeting, the council will vote to adopt the 2020 budget.

 

The next City Council meeting will take place on November 26. The community is encouraged to attend.

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City Council approves purchase of Spader Bay

by Richard Uhlhorn

The City of Chelan held a Council Workshop on Tuesday, November 5, to discuss the City’s “Proposed Capital Improvement Program and Proposed Operating Budget” with Finance Director Steve Thornton presenting and answering questions.

In addition to the city financial outlook for 2020, the agenda included a motion consideration on the O’Neal Spader Bay Property.

Spader Bay:

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City Administrator Mike Jackson

City Administrator Mike Jackson opened the discussion saying he wanted to try and move this issue on. “This has been a hot topic since last summer,” said Jackson describing the landlocked 9.5 acres just west and above the Spader Bay community.

He mentioned that J.A. Brennan and Associations is working on a concept plan and that potential access to the landlocked property could come through Vin du Lac.

“We offered $400,000 and they came back with $950,000.00.” The seller has come down to the City’s price with Linda Evan Parlette gifting her portion of the sale for a tax benefit.

The agreement is a Bargain and Sale Agreement with a 90 day due diligence period for the buyer.

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City Attorney Quinn Batjer prepared the sale agreement for the Council.

City Attorney Quinn Batjer told the Council that “at closing” the City would pay the Seller a cash down payment of $50,000 with the balance ($350,000) payable in seven bi-annual installments beginning on July 10, 2020, with interest at three percent.

The 90 day “Due Diligence” period will give the City the time to conduct or contract for any and all tests, studies, surveys, inspections, reviews, assessments or evaluations of the property.

“Council will have another opportunity to look before closing,” said Batjer. “The 90 day period begins at signing.”

Councilman Ray Dobbs stated that there are some water rights associated with the property and that the City can take those water rights. “That is an added value,” stated Dobbs.

Councilwoman Kelly Allen was concerned about the “landlocked” issue. Jackson replied that Guy Evans (the real estate broker) is working on easments with Larry Lehmbecker at Vin du Lac and that those discussions are positive.

Councilwoman Wendy Isenhart said, “Every bit of that open space is valuable to me.” She talked about the opportunity for water trails to the property.

Jackson told the Council that the City wants to be “good neighbors” to the Spader Bay community and felt that the proposed trail system could be made into a loop. Councilman Tim Hollingsworth stated that vehicle access is important.

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Mayor Mike Cooney 

Mayor Cooney opened the discussion to the public and the first speaker was Alice Thompson. She asked why the City was spending money on this property that will require a sizable investment when the lake is accessible seven months out of the year. “It is just lost revenue with no return,” said Thompson.

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Dr. Phil Long, Lake Chelan Research Institute felt that the purchase of the Spader Bay Property would help keep Lake Chelan clean in the long run.

Phil Long, Lake Chelan Research Institute, encouraged the City to purchase the property from a standpoint of water quality. “For a community that is dedicated to lake preservation, this is a good decision.” Long says that keeping the parcel in “open space” instead of being developed as a high density residential area would keep nutrients and contaminants from entering the lake.

John Olson, successful Council candidate, said he had mixed feeling. “I spent a lot of time at the Post Office last month (campaigning),” said Olson. He said that most people he talked to didn’t think the purchase was a good idea.

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John Olson, who defeated Jon Higgins for a City Council seat stated that most of the people he talked to on the street were against the purchase of Spader Bay property.

Olson went on to say that at the recent Town Hall meeting that out of the 35 red dots handed out, 18 of them ended up on the Spader Bay property. “It was pretty clear that it is not a good idea,” said Olson. “The nearest parking is at Don Morse and only the most active will access it. It doesn’t sound like a good use of $1 million.” He did appreciate the open space.

Olson went on to comment that there are 1,400 docks on the lake with seven applications per month for docks. “There has been a lack of public contact. We haven’t gone through the full public.”

Mayor Cooney shot back that the City was looking at $400,000 to purchase $ million on the property. It was brought up that the City was willing to spend an additional $600,000 in development of the parcel and that amount was listed on the City’s website.

“We have 90 days to make a decision,” said Jackson. “If one of these considerations is unsatisfactory, we can back out.”

Asked if there was any restriction of the City selling the property, Batjer said “No.”

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Councilman Tim Hollingsworth said the property has intrinsic value to the City and encouraged the Council to purchase.

Hollingsworth stated that a lot of people think the City should not be purchasing the land. “We make a living off tourists and that property has intrinsic value to the City,” said Hollingsworth. He went on to say that the City should look at the purchase as a legacy that will “pay dividends over the long haul. We need to lock this down.”

Mayor Cooney reiterated that there had never been a movement to approving the expenditure of $600,000 to develop that parcel and that the Lake Chelan Trails Alliance would be building a trail on the property.

Isenhart than made a motion to authorize the Mayor to finalize and execute the Bargain and Sale Agreement between the City and Seller. This was seconded by Councilman Ty Witt after which the Council voted 6 to 1 (Dobbs voting Nay) to enter into the agreement.

The workshop topics on the 2020 Capital Improvement Program and Operating Budget will be handled under a separate article soon.

Fire district budget workshop poorly attended

by Richard Uhlhorn

 Workshop Summary:

 Following is a short summary of the main points brought up at the recent Chelan 7 Budget Workshop.

  • Chelan County Fire District No. 7 (Chelan7.com) is dedicated to becoming more transparent with the community and wants to hear any concerns or issues the community has.
  • Chelan 7 is financially in good shape for the next two years, but will have to look at the possibility of going to the public for a Levy Lid Lift in 2022. The Commissioners (Russ Jones and Phil Moller) both said the District will not seek the maximum amount allowed by law, but only ask the public to approve just the amount the District needs in 2022.
  • The District will lose its $227,000 SAFER Grant in 2022 leaving the department with some serious staffing and personnel issues if the public decides to not to approve a Levy Lid Lift.
  • Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Asher needs more individuals to commit to the reserve firefighter (volunteer) program.

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It was a disappointing turnout for the Chelan County Fire District 7 (Chelan 7) budget workshop on Wednesday, October 30, at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. However, Fire Chief Mark Donnell outlined and went over the changes on the 2020 budget for the commissioners and others attending the meeting.

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The Chelan 7 Budget Workshop held on Wednesday October 30 was poorly attended by the community even thought Fire Chief Mark Donnell sent out invitations to a number of individuals who had shown concerns

The Draft Budget Proposal for 2020 is based on estimated revenues for 2020 and current expenditure from the 2019 budget. The estimated 2020 budget of $2,069,493.64 is based on the Commissioners approval to exercise th 1% increase over the 2019 budgeted tax revenues.

Both Karyl Oules and Bill Bassett were in attendance at the meeting.

There has been a lot of on-going Social Media discussion, some negative, about the District’s plan to push for a bid Levy Lid Lift which according to Donnell and the commissioners is not true.

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Both Assistant chief Brandon Asher and Fire Chief Mark Donnell help guide the Commissioners and others in attendance with the District’s 2020 Draft Budget and beyond. See Draft Budget below.

The District is not looking for additional funding until 2022 when the SAFER Grant disappears. The loss of that funding is a loss of $227,129.00 per year. “The reason I look at 2022 is that $227,000 will be gone,” said Donnell. “that will drop the administration to one chief, one admistrative manager and one administrative assistant.”

At risk is the position currrently held by Assistant Chief Brandon Asher who is charged with recruitment, training and retention of both volunteer and career firefighters at Chelan, Entiat and Douglas County.

Commission Chair Russ Jones remarked that the District’s lack of transparency continually comes up. “It costs us $116,000 per year for a career firefighter,” said Jones. “I think that is transparent.”

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Commission Chairman Russ Jones

The seven career firefighters will cost the District $714,849 in 2020 or 33% of the budget. That cost will rise to $752,764 and $775,347 in 2021 and 2022 respectively. Administrative costs are pegged at $337,333 in 2020 and increases to $347,450 and $357,874 in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

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The DRAFT 2020 Budget for the community’s information.

“We are interested in what the community has to say,” said Donnell. “I look forward to hearing from them.” Donnell and Asher both have open doors and if anyone in the community has an issue, they are more than happy to sit down and address them.

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Fire Chief Mark Donnell

With respect to the 53 volunteers currently listed, Chief Donnell said, “They are not really volunteers. They are compensated and I prefer to call them Reserve firefighters.”

Each reserve firefighter is required to serve 50 hours of drill time per year. The biggest problem the District has is getting them all to show up on a regular basis. “I’ve changed the training because it was not working,” said Assistant Chief Brandon Asher. Asher wants to bring all the reserve (volunteer) firefighters up to speed. “I’m giving them a three month grace period to bring them up to speed.”

“We are having an extremely hard time finding people who will get engaged,” said Asher. It is a nation wide problem. Employers not wanting to let people respond to an emergency, and a whole bunch of factors including a lack of commitment.

The District has 53 reserve (volunteers) of which 30 have been recruited in the last two years. fourteen of them have left leaving retention at 63%.

Asher stated that he has an open checkbook. “We can be more selective,” he stated. “We are really focused on getting people to commit.”

Donnell stated that one of the issues of retention is having more calls. “At the Washington Creek fire people were coming out of the woodwork.”

The District has a Stipend system for reserve firefighters who are willing to take a shift to make sure the station is covered with enough personnel. “I thought it would be competitive, but its not happening,” said Asher.

Chelan 7 is also restricted in how much they can pay a reserve firefighter. “We can’t pay more than 20% of a career firefighter,” said Donnell. After five shifts, firefighters are at that threshold. “We need to figure out how to make it more viable.”

Commission candidate Bill Bassett asked if the District has a formal strategy. “There are grants all over the place.” Donnell replied that he doesn’t what the District to survive on grants. “The pool (of reserve firefighters) who want to be career fire fighters are the ones who are pulling shifts.”

Apparatus discussion:

 Commisioner Jones asked if the Department has too many vehicles. Commissioner Moller asked if the District could get rid of any vehicles. Asher stated that if they were to get rid of any truck, they would only sell or auction the chassis off, but keeping the box.

“All our current brush rigs are in good shape with the exception of Unit 74,” said Donnell. “There are a couple of vehicles we could consider putting on surplus.

Fire District Mechanic John Goyne stated that Engines 72, 73, and 75 have Detroit diesels that haven’t been manufactured for years. “If one fails, it could take up to two and half months to find a block to build,” said Goyne. “If one of those trucks has a catastrophic failure it could take six months to one year to find an (replacement) engine

Hydrant maintenance isn’t the District’s responsibility. “We offered take over that service if they will pay us to do that,” said Donnell.

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Tax Revenue and potential Levy Lid Lift:

 Jones stated that there are a lot of misconceptions out in the community about tax revenue. “A lot of people think that we get more money when tax revenue go up,” said Jones. “We have a one percent cap.” Which means that for every $100 dollars collected, they will only be able to go up to $101 the next year.

Jones added that the District needs to start looking and planning for 2022 for a Levy Lid lift. At the end of the meeting this reporter asked if they were going to go with the stated lift of $0.25 cents per $1,000 of valuation.

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Commissioner Phil Moller

Commisioner Phil Moller said, “I don’t want to throw out a number, but we will only go out for what we need.” Jones echoed what Moller said. “We are allowed to go to $1.50 per $1,000, but none of us have considered doing that. We will only ask for what we need. People are getting hit hard with taxes anyway.”

One on-going issue is with the City of Chelan who does not pay anything to the District.

They are working with them on an Interlocal Agreement. “We are not expecting anything from those folks,” said Jones.