BOARD OF MASON COUNTY COMMISSIONERS PROCEEDINGS
December 19, 2000
Chairperson John A. Bolender called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. Commissioners Cynthia D. Olsen was in attendance. Commissioner Mary Jo Cady arrived at 10:55 a.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to approve the December 4, 2000 meeting minutes as circulated. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye.
Cmmr. Cady/Olsen moved and seconded to approve the December 7, 2000 Board of Health minutes. Motion carried passed. B-abstain; C-aye; O-aye.
Cmmr. Cady/Bolender moved and seconded to approve the October 30 minutes. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye.
Cmmr. Cady/Bolender moved and seconded to approve the December 5, minutes. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye.
Cmmr. Cady/Olsen moved and seconded to approve the meeting minutes dated December 12, 2000. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye.
Cmmr. Cady/Olsen moved and seconded to approve the November 28 meeting minutes. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye.
C O R R E S P O N D E N C E
The Treasurer notified the County that Bank of America, Shelton Branch has been designated as depositary of public funds for year 2001.
The Democratic Central Committee submitted their letter with three top candidates for the position of Treasurer: Barry Jenkins; Victoria Pavel, and Brenda Rae. A letter of resignation was received from Victoria Pavel noting she does not wish to be considered for the Treasurer position.
2001 BUDGET & LEVIES
Received a copy of the Fire Protection District #9 budget and levies.
DNR TAHUYA STATE FOREST
Judy G. Scott asked that the County protect the Tahuya State Forest from vandalism and unlawful use.
Cmmr. Bolender noted that there has been a tremendous amount of activity in the Tahuya State Forest that DNR has been trying to control. The Tahuya State Forest is within the jurisdiction of the County Sheriff and DNR has an active program working in that area to address those issues.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES ADVISORY COUNCIL
Douglas A. Drinkall FPD #18 primary representative
Steve Nottingham FPD #18 alternate representative
B U S I N E S S
VETERANS ASSISTANCE APPLICATIONS
Lyle J. Coles VFW 1694 Housing $350.00
Leslie G. McGhee VFW 1694 Housing $370.90
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to approve the veterans assistance applications as submitted by the Veterans Assistance Screening Committee for Lyle Coles housing $350 and Leslie G. McGhee housing $370.90. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES ADVISORY COUNCIL
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to appoint Douglas A. Drinkall FPD #18 primary representative and Steve Nottingham FPD #18 alternate representative. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye.
APPLICATION PANHANDLE EDUCATION CENTER
Joe Kropf, Washington State University-Cooperative Extension, explained that Panhandle 4-H Camp is 12.5 miles away from Shelton. It is difficult to get technology to the area to access the Internet. Washington State University has put a sizeable amount of money into some of the equipment so there is a capacity through Qwest to bring that to tie it all together.
Phil Hearsenberger explained they are planning for a computer lab to provide teaching and video conferencing. There are only a few places that video conferencing is capable in the county. This is a long-term educational site. For many years it was considered a recreational facility and the last few years they are focusing on educational needs.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to approve the Panhandle Education Centers application for a $20,000 grant from the Mason County Distressed Area Capital Improvements fund (103-000-000) as presented by Ione Siegler, Director of Budget & Finance. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye.
HEARING - VACATE MAINTENANCE OF BOURGAULT ROAD
The Board held a public hearing to consider the vacation of maintenance of Bourgault Road from its intersection with State Route 101 running easterly 0.98 miles to its intersection with Purdy Cut-Off Road.
Jerry Hauth, Public Works Director, requested the Board vacate the maintenance on the Bourgault Road, County Road No. 41900. If approved, the public access would be closed with a barricade. It would be accessible for property owners and people with a legitimate interest. The basis for the request is due to the ongoing problems associated with refuse dumping and river flooding. It was noted the County has purchased a number of parcels in the area, over the last five years, which have been inundated with water.
Paul Bourgault stated he used to be a Public Works Director and has knowledge of what happens when you vacate a road and the public and private property owner rights.
He expressed they are looking at the West and East end of the Bourgault Road. They would like to see three gates: one at the beginning of the property acquired by the County; a second gate at the west end of the property owned by Bourgaults; a third gate they agree with the Public Works recommendation on location. On the second and third gates they would like to have a Weyerhaeuser type steel gate which is railroad iron or equivalent with shield so no one can shoot the lock off the gate and enter that way. They understand they cannot prevent people from entering the property. They would like to keep four-wheel vehicles kept out of the area. They disagree with the recommendation to give keys to whoever they feel they should, except for the fire department. They are willing to have the fire department given a key so they can access the property.
Paul Bourgault stated he is against bridges being taken out of property. He questioned ownership of the road.
The Board stated the County is proposing to discontinue maintenance on a road the county owns.
Mr. Bourgault stated as citizens paying taxes to the County they would like to keep their private property rights. They dont want to give their rights away to anyone else.
Cmmr. Bolender referred to gate 2.
Mr. Bourgault noted it was at the west end of his brothers property which is nearer to Highway 101. It is on the 101 side of the property they own.
The Board asked what additional benefit the gate would provide.
Mr. Bourgault mentioned that the county purchased property in the area. They cant prevent access to property owned to the County. They do want to keep people out of their property.
The Board mentioned that the control is not absolute. Keys will be handed out to emergency response.
Mr. Bourgault questioned what the term is for emergency response.
The Board responded it would be authorized by the fire, Sheriff, and or medics.
Mr. Bourgault noted they are opposed to the two bridges being removed from the property, It would prevent them from being able to use their property. He felt it greatly devaluates the property should they wish to sell it.
Joe Bourgault, 100 E Bourgault Road, also noted his support for maintaining the bridge in the area. He asked that the barricade be left at the bridge. There is a concern of the Fisheries with people that are driving across the creek with vehicles and they would go around the barricade and through that way. He felt the best way to stop it is at the bridge and would like to see a gate there. If they put the gate any further up there will be problems. There has been some illegal fishing in the area. The Tribe has been working trying to catch the people that are catching the fish and the Tribe would have access. It would stop four-wheelers from going across the bridge.
There is a power line going through the area and they would have to let the PUD come through once in a while.
There is concern that people May drive through the Meese property and come back on the road and they May have to dig a ditch to stop this. It was noted that four-wheelers are going through the hayfields and there are ruts in the field and with frequent floods they can loose a lot of topsoil. He concurred that all three gates be Weyerhaeuser type gates.
A question was raised if there will be signs that the road is closed.
Mr. Hauth noted that the sign technician has developed a proposal and there would be a series of signs as you progress into the area.
Mr. Bourgault felt that the biggest challenge is the public in the area.
Rose Dunkel stated that she spoke to Jerry Hauth two weeks ago. She is not opposed to closing off the road. It does need to be a gate that has access, because of all the flooding. She also referred to the hay fields that belong to the Bourgaults. She was concerned about flooding in the area and they need to have access to their property as areas of their property are not accessible.
They have access from the west side, but the road is getting chewed up and in a few years they wont be able to pass over the road without maintenance. The road floods many times a year and with no maintenance it will be unpassable. The mud and weeds are built up alongside the road. They need more than one access to their property. She felt the bridge is in really good shape and nothing is impeded under the bridge.
Ray Marriott stated he is a taxpayer. The County purchased five acres with a house and came in and burned two buildings. When he originally purchased his property the County maintained Bourgault Road. There is still the footprint of the buildings and he understood that he could place a building on a footprint. He could set up an RV park privately operated or some place for horses.
Vi Stickley noted she also has a parcel of property for sale on Bourgault Road. They would like to have proper legal access.
Jerry Hauth noted that the gates being proposed and discussed by Mr. Bourgault is what they intended to originally. The only reservation is if the property owners wanted a field gate or something slightly lighter to facilitate easier access. They had anticipated that they would be formidable gates.
The only other entity that has not been addressed and has expressed an interest as far as access is the utility companies.
They discussed that there could be an open gate when access is necessary or a key provided for the district supervisor.
The Board noted that removal of the bridge is not an issue at the hearing. The question was raised if a third gate along the road would be acceptable.
Jerry Hauth, Public Works Director, responded they are not advocating tearing out the bridge. He stated he was being candid that they have been approached about removing the bridge. The third gate seems like a redundancy.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to vacate the maintenance of Bourgault Road County Road No. 41900 for its total length of 0.98 miles with consideration for the testimony received. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye. (Exhibit A)
HEARING - HEARING EXAMINER
The Board held a public hearing to consider adopting an ordinance to establish the office of hearing examiner.
Bob Fink, Planner, explained that under consideration is a proposal to establish an office of hearing examiner and to assign to the hearing examiner various duties currently done by the Board of Commissioners, the Planning Commission and the Building Code Board of Appeals and the Health Officer. By reassigning these duties these boards and officers will have more time to perform their responsibilities and staff time will also be saved. The Hearing Examiner process is expected to make a more efficient and effective the work of the staff of several county departments. The Hearing Examiner is an expert in land use law and issues, should provide the best service to the public and reduce potential liability for the county. Along with establishing the Hearing Examiner office to consider violations, the proposed process is intended to streamline the enforcement process.
The intent is that the Hearing Examiner help the county absorb an increased permit load following the recent amendments to the county regulations and the compliance of these regulations with the growth management act. It is not expected that the Hearing Examiner be a full time position, rather a part-time, contracted position. The principal functions of the Hearing Examiner will be as follows: To conduct public hearings on a variety of land use permits and establish the record of action and findings of fact for the decision; to hear appeals of many types of administrative acts or determinations; to provide a quick and fair hearing in the case of alleged violation of codes and to establish compliance requirements and assess penalties as appropriate; to provide professional assistance to the county and on-going improvement of county regulations.
If implemented early next year it is expected that the hearing examiner would begin with the focus on resolving violation issues that would shift to permit reviews as enforcement became more effective and the backlog of violations was addressed
Mr. Fink requested the Board approve the proposed ordinance. The department also requests that the Board adopt findings of fact to support its action.
Cmmr. Bolender noted that Mason County is one of two counties in the entire state of Washington that does not use a hearing examiner to conduct many of the routine permit decisions that the county is involved in. The board requested staff bring this proposal forward after some fairly substantial review for a couple of reasons.
One, after many conversations with a variety of contractors in this community who also do business in other communities throughout the state, particularly Thurston, Kitsap and Pierce counties and their input at that time was that it was often time-consuming and cumbersome to get through some of the processes that in Mason County because a hearing examiner is not used and their experience was that the hearing examiner process was more efficient for the end users, being the public at large.
The Board discussed it and decided to at least conduct an investigation review of what was going on around the County. In addition, the Board of County Commissioners is routinely confronted with legal decisions relative to permit activities and in the absence of having access to sufficient legal review to conduct deliberations we have made decisions in the past based on what appeared to be the right thing to do for the permit applicant but, in essence, was in conflict with the fine details of the law although they were not always evident and more than one time those decisions were appealed and taken to either the Department of Ecology or the State Hearings Board and were overturned because of the legal nuances that were overlooked by the Board of County Commissioners.
Cmmr. Bolender expressed his personal opinion is that the public could be better served through a different model than is currently being used, staff could find themselves in a position of conducting more of their business or getting more through because they would not be inundated with permits coming back through the process one, two or three times to get to the point that they need to be for approval, and to some extent, the property owner or the applicant is sent through the wheel or the hoop two or three times and that does not serve the public well in that regard.
Bob Sund noted he serves on the Planning Commission however his comments are his personal comments. He expressed concern that possibly the county commissioners were being legislated out of the decision making loop
The Board questioned how they would be out of the loop. They are discussing legal reviews and not legislative actions. The board takes legislative action when it adopts an ordinance. It is not legislative action when they review a permit, that is a quasi-judicial action and it is separate.
Mr. Sund stated he was concerned with the appeal process that certain things would not be able to be appealed back through but would have to go from the hearing officer directly to the superior court without going back through the county commissioners.
The Board noted that they pass legislation in the county that the courts implement, for example, that has no more legislative review after the ordinance or the rule is adopted.
Betty Wing, Interim Director of the Department of Community Development, clarified that this is something which has been an ongoing dilemna and a challenge for the various divisions within the permit area, the building department, environmental health solid waste division and the planning department have all been challenged especially in recent years and again, dealing with a backlog of code enforcement issues having access to what I would say land-use attorneys or people that have a lot of specific understanding of land use issues and understanding recent codes and regulations and court case rulings.
A little over a year ago they came to the Board and said they are extremely frustrated and feel there is a better way. They wanted to form a committee group to do exploratory work. Over the last 10 months or so they made contact with lots of jurisdictions, hearing examiners who actually do this work. The committee feels strongly that they support the adoption of a hearing examiner ordinance with regards to code enforcement. She added if there is a sunset to it that they would be almost required to improve upon it and make it better and more workable.
Cmmr. Bolender stated that he believed that the Board of County Commissioners responsibility is to establish policy for the offices that fall within the scope of their responsibility. It is the Board of County Commissioners responsibility to legislate and adopt ordinances for public health and safety. It is the boards responsibility to act as a quasi-judicial body and review permits and other types of actions that come before us in that venue. And if a policy is adopted by the Board of County Commissioners and is not satisfactorily implemented to the publics satisfaction, then the board has the ability to correct that through either making a change in the appointed official who implements that particular ordinance or changing the policy. It is not the boards responsibility, in my own opinion only, to be involved in the day-to-day activities of the business that is going on in county government. That is where a policy making board substantially oversteps the authority granted it by the public.
He stated he did not see the necessity for a sunset because the next board that had doubts or questions about the ordinance could always bring it forward for another public hearing than any other kind of corrections or additions or deletions they wanted to make to it.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to adopt Ordinance No. 129-00 as recommended by the Planning Commission, effective March 1, 2000, to establish the office of Hearing Examiner, and to assign duties to the Hearing Examiner by amendment Mason County Title 15 and by repealing existing provisions in other Mason County regulations in conflict with these amendments and that the Board adopt the proposed findings of fact in support of this action and authorize the chairs signature. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye. Ordinance No. 129-00 (Exhibit B)
The Board held a public hearing to consider a supplemental appropriation to the 2000 budget for the current Expense Fund in the amount of $63,390. Ione Siegler, Budget & Finance Director, presented the staff report.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to approve the supplemental appropriation to the 2000 budget for the Current Expense Fund in the amount of $185,415 and the Health Services Fund in the amount of $63,390 as presented by Ione Siegler, Director of Budget & Finance. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye. Order signed (Exhibit C)
2000 PROPERTY TAX REFUNDS
Dorene Rae, Treasurer, presented the 2000 property tax refunds totaling $147,815.48 for Boards approval.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to approve the 294 property tax refunds for 2000 in the amount of $147,815.48 as presented by Dorene Rae, Treasurer. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye.
The Board recognized the 38 years of service provided to the County by Dorene Rae by reading a proclamation establishing January 5, 2001 as Dorene Rae Day.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to establish January 5, 2001 as Dorene Rae Day. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye. (Exhibit D)
WITHDRAWAL FROM FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
The Board held a public hearing to consider withdrawal of Section 9; Township 19N, Range 7W within Fire Protection District (FPD) No. 12.
Herb Brehmeyer, Fire Protection District No. 12, stated the section petitioned for withdrawal is in the Grays Harbor portion of Fire Protection District No. 12. After the fire district line was moved to include the owners and they received their taxes they realized they were not interested in being part of the district and the Fire District is in agreement.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to adopt Resolution No. 130-00 for withdrawal of Section 9, Township 19N, Range 7 W from FPD #12. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye. Resolution No. 130-00 (Exhibit E)
CRP 1679 - NORTH SHORE ROAD
Jerry Hauth, Public Works Director, asked the Board to approve a supplemental agreement with GeoEngineers. They are the lead firm on the North Shore landslide repair evaluation work. There are 17 sites that they have been working on trying to come up with a remediation for the slide erosion areas along North Shore so they can obtain a permit.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded the Board of County Commissioners authorize the Chairperson to execute Supplemental Agreement No. 1 of the contract with GeoEngineers for CRP 1679, North Shore Road, which changes the scope of work and increases the contract amount by $42,610 for a total of $130,060. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye.
REIMBURSABLE AGREEMENT - SQUAXIN ISLAND TRIBE
The Board received a recommendation to enter into a reimbursable agreement with the Squaxin Island Tribe for snow removal as necessary. It would be at the Countys convenience with it not to exceed $5,000 annually.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to execute the Reimbursable Agreement between Mason County Department of Public Works and the Squaxin Island Tribe for Public Works to perform snow removal on Squaxin Island Tribal Reservation roads during the 2000-2001 winter season total cost not to exceed $5,000. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye.
LETTERS OF INTEREST
It was requested the Board authorize the Public Works to seek letters of interest to provide ongoing professional services.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to authorize the Director Public Works to advertise for Letters of Interest for Construction Project Inspector services for the 2001-2002 road construction season; Contract and Fee Appraisers, Negotiators and Title Research services for year 2001; and Geotechnical Lab Services for year 2001. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye.
REQUEST TO HIRE - ENVIRONMENTAL COORDINATOR
The final request by Public Works was to hire an Environmental Coordinator. The staff biologist, Robin Meyers, will be going into the consultant arena. She has had an opportunity to set up an environmental division of a new consultant firm in the Poulsbo area.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to authorize Public Works Department to advertise for interview and hire an Environmental Coordinator. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye.
CONTRACT AMENDMENT #1 - PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER
Steve Kutz, Public Health Services Director, asked the Board to approve a contract amendment to the contractual employment agreement with the Dr. Trucksess to provide for a change in the compensation clause.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded that Amendment #1 to the contractual employment agreement between Mason County Department of Health Services and Dr. M.E. Trucksess with changes to compensation clause be accepted as presented. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye.
CONTRACT RENEWAL - SHERMAN
Betty Wing, Interim Director of Department of Community Development, requested the Board renew a temporary contract for Plans Examining Services with Larry Sherman of Code Pro Consulting in Olympia. The temporary contract is effective December 12, 2000 April 1, 2001 and necessary to complete plan review during Debra Cokers emergency leave of absence.
Cmmr. Olsen/Bolender moved and seconded to authorize Betty Wing, Interim Director of the Department of Community Development to renew a temporary contract for plans examining services with Code Pro Consulting of Olympia, effective December 12, 2000 through April 1, 2001. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-absent; O-aye.
NON-UNION SALARY INCREASE
Human Resources Director Skip Wright explained that county employees are represented in ten different bargaining units as well as approximately 80 non-union employees. Most of the bargaining units have settled negotiations through 2001. There are two contracts currently in negotiations. The settled contracts provide for a 3.5% cost of living increase on January 1, 2001. He recommended the Board adjust the salaries of non-union employees the same 3.5%.
Cmmr. Olsen/Cady moved and seconded to approve Resolution No. 131-00, which provides for a 3.5% salary increase for regular non-union employees effective January 1, 2001. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye. Resolution No. 131-00 (Exhibit F)
DEPUTY PROSECUTING ATTORNEYS SALARY INCREASE
Mr. Wright presented a resolution to establish the deputy prosecuting attorneys salaries 3.5% in 2001.
Cmmr. Olsen/Cady moved and seconded to approve Resolution No. 132-00 which provides for a 3.5% salary increase for certain Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys effective January 1, 2001. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye. Resolution No. 132-00 (Exhibit G)
SALARY RANGE TABLE
It was proposed that the job title of Information System Supervisor be increased to a Range 19 and the ER&R Manager to Range 17. They are proposing to delete the positions of Probation Officer and Probation Assistant which are now in a bargaining unit and no longer a non-union employee as well as deleting the position of Fair Manager which is now a contract.
Cmmr. Cady/Olsen moved and seconded to approve Resolution No. 133-00 which amends the salary range alignment by changing the title of ER&R Manager to Range 17 and the title of Information Systems Supervisor to Range 19 and deleting Probation Officer, Probation Assistant and Fair Manager effective December 19, 2000. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye. Resolution No. 133-00 (Exhibit H)
REESTABLISHING EMERGENCY SERVICES COORDINATOR IN AFSCME
The level of support service for Emergency Management needs to be changed due to the Fire Marshal duties being added to the department. There was a position of Emergency Services Coordinator, which was abolished several years ago, and it is being reinstituted. The AFSCME bargaining unit has submitted a letter of agreement for the position at a range 23.
Cmmr. Olsen/Cady moved and seconded the Board approve and sign the Letter of Agreement between Mason County and AFSCME, Local 1504 which reestablishes the job of Emergency Services Coordinator at Range 23. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye.
INTERIM AGREEMENT AFSCME
The Board was advised that the AFSCME medical insurance is through the Teamsters Trust. It was requested to execute an Interim Agreement, which would provide for continuation of the $425 month contribution, but changes the insurance coverage from the WT Plus to the WT-450.
Cmmr. Cady/Olsen moved and seconded to approve and sign the Interim Agreement between Mason County and AFSCME, Local 1504 which provides for group medical insurance through the Washing ton Teamsters Trust WT-450 Plan effective January 1, 2001. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye.
TEAMSTERS TRUST SUBSCRIPTION AGREEMENT
Mr. Wright noted that the Teamsters Trust requires the signing of a subscription agreement by both the union, employer and the Trust in order to provide the insurance coverage. He requested the Board authorize the chair to sign the subscription agreement.
Cmmr. Olsen/Cady moved and seconded to authorize the chairperson to sign the subscription agreement between Washington Teamsters Trust, Mason County, and AFSCME Local 1504 which provides for group medical insurance through the Washington Teamsters Trust WT450 plan effective January 1, 2001. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye.
The Board recessed at 11:00 a.m. until 11:05 a.m.
HEARING - HARTSTENE POINTE SEWER FEE ADJUSTMENTS
Gary Yando, Utilities/Waste Management Director, requested the Board of County Commissioners approve the following rate structure:
A service connection of $500.00; a lot with dwelling of $36.00; a lot without dwelling of $13.50. He pointed out that these proposals do not take into consideration any concern related to the outfall issue other than the $35,000 trying to be secured as far as the diffuser.
He noted that representatives from the Hartstene Pointe Maintenance Association (HPMA) and Mason County are continuing to meet with the respective agencies with the goal being to arrive at a solution that would cause less or no impact on the property owners at the Pointe, and there are representatives present which do serve on that group that have been very active in working with state agencies and the tribe to hopefully come up with a solution thats not going to impact those property owners at the Pointe any more than what is necessary. They are hoping to secure, if necessary, to even do anything with the outfall, secure their funding approval.
The Board questioned the total asset value for the system.
Mr. Yando replied it is approximately two or three million.
It was questioned if there is a balance in the construction fund.
Mr. Yando noted there is a limited balance in the construction budget that, based on the working figures over the last couple of months of around $4 or $5,000.
The Board questioned the $30,000 based on the asset replacement for major expenditures and breakdowns, which might occur, and that this was an interim solution until the deliberations on the outfall were final.
Mr. Yando responded that is fairly close. He clarified that the $35,000 is an engineers estimate.
He stressed that if $35,000 is spent on the diffuser, there are no additional funds for other work at the Pointe, other than a minimum amount.
Cmmr. Cady questioned if the figures on page 13 referred to the proposed fees of $36, $13.50 and $500 for the hookup.
It was noted that $75,000 in the construction line item is included in the operations expenditure.
The Board asked for an explanation of the reserve lines. Even with the amount of $2,500, there is still a shortage of $15,000.
Mr. Yando stated they are planning to set aside some funds each month like the water system and invest it.
Cmmr. Olsen expressed concern for reserve in case of something happening such as an earthquake where lines would need to be repaired.
Mr. Yando stated that is a good point. They have a state-of-the-art system that is on an electrical circuit that beeps if a problem goes wrong so it does not need to be watched constantly each day.
The Board questioned if the State Auditors office have given any guidance as to what an adequate level of reserve would be for this operation.
There was discussion that $50,000 reserve is about 2% of the total asset value.
The question was raised as to what type of reserve the Department of Health requires on the water system.
Mr. Yando stated based on the budget it comes out at $5,840 each year. Replacement of a well is estimated at $150,000.
In response to a question on the Endangered Species Act 4D rule, Mr. Yando noted they are currently working with the Department of Public Works and Road Department on putting together a program that hopefully will comply with the Federal Endangered Species Act 4D rule compliance program.
Earl Hueman, property owner at Hartstene Pointe since 1974, complimented the county on the wonderful job being done in consideration of their problems. He did not believe they are paying enough for their sewer. He agreed they need to have a contingency plan or reserve monies.
He questioned where how long it would take to pay for the outfall diffuser and plant energy power supply at the proposed rates. The estimate for the outfall diffuser is $35,000 and the replacement of the plant energy power supply of $30,000 for a total of $65,000. It will take four and a half years to pay for that.
Another concern was that there are some people on the system on a fixed income and the possibility that the outfall May have problems.
Mr. Yando stated that the $35,000 is an estimate for the diffuser, based on an engineers estimate. They would put it out on a bid or a post for quotes. They anticipate it to be between $25 and $35,000. He would need to do more research on the manholes. One manhole has a big hole. Some of that can be done with staffing do in-house depending on the magnitude of the damage.
If the work can be done by staffing in-house and they have the time they will do all they can and working with the HPA group.
Bernard Skahill noted that unused equipment deteriorates faster than operating equipment and that humidity causes more problems than any other environment including vibration and shock and extreme high and low temperatures and pressures.
The analysis shows that had sewer fees proposed in 1992 been implemented in 1992 there would have been a sewer fund balance of approximately $200,000 at the end of 1999.
He urged the Board to consider the diversion of Hartstene Pointe funds to other projects and the debt-free status of the Hartstene Pointe system in setting sewer rates for the Hartstene Pointe sewer system.
Deborah Rechnitz stated she is chairperson for the long-range planning committee for the Pointe and has spent a great deal of time looking at infrastructure issues. She also is a member of the outfall committee, and has been involved in that perspective strongly. She stated she is a finance instructor at the University of Phoenix and a certified management accountant and naturally tends to look at numbers.
She stated that she recognized that some sort of an increase is in order. But we have several that have been proposed and some choices available to us.
One of the rationales for the increase is that in 1992 they might have had $200,000 in reserves. That is a hypothetical number because the more money available, the more money can be spent and that is a concern here
The second issue is that this system is debt-free which generally adjusts your cost structure significantly. She suggested looking at operating costs vs. operating costs so they can separate out some significant debt issues.
She noted that the capital budget has listed to replace the outfall diffuser for an estimated cost of $35,000. She felt the outcome is uncertain as to whether it will solve a problem that has not been resolved. Also, that it could hurt significantly the negotiating stance with the state and potentially end up spending much more on the Pickering Passage side and not even use a diffuser.
She referred to the manholes, some of which have already been repaired. Some work has been done which means it is at equal expense levels of historical work. That means it is not an add-on to an operating budget but it is simply the existing budget doing different things.
The Board clarified that the frequency of the activity in the past and the present are likely to be significantly different, so even though it could have been a routine cost at one time, if the frequency were to increase, as an example, it becomes more than what the routine expenditures paid in the past.
Ms. Rechnitz stated the other issue related to that, however, is if, in fact, they reduce the infiltration. She believed they would also lower the chemical usage in the plant.
The Board responded that the chemical usage is not significant at Hartstene Pointe as a cost item.
Ms. Rechnitz referred to the operating budget. It is naturally assumed the costs will always go up and most of them do but she is constantly reminded that with some creativity and work, the costs can also go down. For instance, under administration, this is an allocated expense by Mason County and rightfully so in terms of director and project managers and such. But youre bringing on in the next year another sewer plant.
She felt that the particular line item which reflects an engineering study to do things, is again, hurting the negotiation stance of the outfall committee which says, yes we want to go ahead and pursue certain items in the outfall.
The Board noted that the Hartstene Pointe sewer outfall group discussed with the County that in the event that an improvement in the outfall could result in the need not being there for the second outfall, that they were interested in identifying a cost for that diffuser and building that into the structure so that if the diffuser could be repaired in lieu of building a new outfall, there would be some revenue there to do that. It was anticipated that there would be a cost looking at that to be the least cost that could be asked the Hartstene Pointe residents to come forward with.
Ms. Rechnitz stated it seems to be a timing issue.
Mr. Yando stated that this has been in the budget since 1994.
Ms. Rechnitz stressed that her issue is that the rate increase is a result of a starting point of this budget, which includes diffuser expenses, and engineering studies, which she believed everybody is an inappropriate time to do it.
Mr. Yando responded that the engineering plan is completed. The figure that is shown, is the remaining amount of grant funds that are left over from a study that started back in 1993 or 1992. The Pointe has been receptive to that since the County started the process, because they put up matching funds for whatever the amount of the grant was, so whatever is sitting there now is only used in case the consultant comes down and has to participate in one of the outfall meetings that is being held at the county. This money is not used for anything to do with the diffuser.
It was clarified the funds are not actual construction money.
The Board stressed that the necessity for the fee increases is because the system is operating with a negative cash flow. Youre using up all your reserves in order to move forward.
Ms. Rechnitz stated she is very concerned about presenting a budget that implies payment for outfall issues, which will be public information also available to the state.
The Board questioned how to do periodic engineering consultations with the engineer managing this facility without that expenditure.
Ms. Rechnitz stated that periodic consultations with an engineer are very different than dealing with outfall issues possibly.
It was noted the engineer is helping the County deal with the outfall issues and in fact negotiating with the state agencies and the County has to pay them.
Ms. Rechnitz noted in terms of reserves, the question becomes how much is enough. Should there be a reserve for all forms of disaster or should they wait and get some guidelines from either state or an appropriate authority that says what is an adequate reserve, knowing that since weve never used any of our debt financing abilities that under disastrous conditions we have the ability to go out and sell bonds or Mason County did, would on our behalf so should it all be cash reserves sitting making small interest or some of it there and some of it available from our debt borrowing capacity.
She suggested, if something must be done immediately, to increase from the $15 to $20, knowing that that is no small increase (33% increase at a time when our general economy is slowing).
The Board recessed for five minutes and then came back into regular session.
Cliff Judd expressed concern with the large increase and he is retired and on a fixed income.
There was discussion about the expense for a computer and that the expense includes the staff of the information services department to be available to do technical assistance and trouble-shooting on our system. It is not just the hardware, it is also the software and support staff for back up of records.
Ken DeCew noted that they take pride that Hartstene is a debt-free facility. He also questioned about the construction project line item at $35,000 and the telephone expense of $6,000 a year for the sewer plant. That is $500 a month. It seems that even with a dedicated line that is an outrageous expense.
And lastly, there is $30,000 proposed for a new generator and they just spent $2,300 to repair the old one.
Tom Moore, Utilities/Waste Management, responded that the phone expenses take care of the alarm system at the wastewater plant. It also has an interface with the alarm system that monitors the water system. They are required to have a telemetry system with the lift station overflow and it needs to dial the staff. Department of Health requires the auto-dialers on all the facilities and those rates have gone up considerably in the last couple of years.
Don Melnick stated he is President of the Board of Directors of Hartstene Pointe Maintenance Association and the Board asked that he speak at the hearing.
He thanked the County for the work done on the outflow. Theyve had a good relationship with the staff and are seeking understanding. He stated they have difficulty being convinced it needs to be as large as what is being proposed.
The Board clarified that the rate structure, which is proposed, has nothing to do with the comparison sheet that was inserted in the back of the packet. The reason that was inserted in the back of the packet was because the County requested some information to know, at least on a peripheral basis, how other systems were charging. We did not do the depth of analysis to look at debt rate to asset ratios and other things but that was a document that was generated after the rates were proposed for our information as a gauge only.
Mr. Melnick noted he shares the concern that other people have expressed about stating in the budget things that are related to the second outfall. He believed they are in a strategy of trying to convince the state and he personally believes that they are within two or three months of really knowing what the answer is with regards to the second outfall. There are to be meetings with the Department of Health in January, which should shed a lot of light. He asked that anything which relates to the second outfall be deferred until such time as we know what the solution was and we could put money in the budget and justify the whole thing to ourselves and help support you in justifying it to property owners. There was also a question about grant funds available to help with the construction.
I think it would be more appropriate to budget funds for that when we know whats going to happen as opposed to putting money in now, not knowing whats going to happen.
The Board stated that in 1998 the same issue came up. The County knew they were rapidly depleting funds in the account, and that there were future construction projects that would be necessary. The County was concerned about a huge impact at one time, particularly with as many residents in the area that are on fixed incomes. They are looking for a way, in small increments, get up to the point where people could accumulate enough money over a longer period of time to do those necessary improvements. The County can continue to wait as in 1998. It May be only a few more months. However, if the dialogue, which started 9 or 12 months ago with those agencies, goes on for another 6 or 8 months, then they can be three years behind the curve. He urged them to face the issue now and solve the problem. They know at a minimum, that the diffuser May need to be replaced, if they are allowed to go down that path. It seemed prudent to identify the least cost item and build that in because to some degree they are going to spend that amount of money or more so that the strategy was to start bringing in that smaller increment now for what they know is going to be a known cost. They just dont know which bucket were going to drop the money in.
Mr. Melnick stated he personally would like to continue the process and reach closure. If they can not reach closure then they can acknowledge mutually that there May be another big lump in the future thats going to have to be affecting those things and if its decided we ought to be accumulating more funds to and acknowledge that something is going to happen then we can do that. He closed by urging the Board to delay the decision.
The Board voiced concern that there still is no reserve for anything else. If something else happened, there is no reserve.
Mr. Melnick added that he is not talking about a lot of time, Maybe a month or so at the most before they can reach closure.
Chuck Luton also raised concern about the timing of the issues as a lot of the residents are out of state. He questioned what the next increase will be in five years.
The question was raised if they would rather see assessments rather than rate increases.
Mr. Luton felt that is an alternative that needs to be discussed; however, there are a lot of people on fixed incomes.
Ken DeCew questioned about the construction project of $35,000 in the 2001 budget.
Tom Moore stated the budget is based on having a $75,000 reserve.
Mr. Yando added that they are meeting with State Health and with Department of Ecology to look at an approach that would hopefully be acceptable to everybody and also they are looking at possible financial alternatives and thats a plus that we hadnt heard from them. We had conducted a meeting back about 3 or 4 months ago and representatives met with the Squaxin Tribe. There was discussion that they would be interested in helping the County secure financial funding from the federal government when we get to that point. The lease agreement with DNR runs out around the fall of 2001
That line item has been in the budget since 1993. We had to come up with some recommendations regarding how the outfall issue was going to be taken care of or proposed. Thats what the money was for. The Hartstene Pointe homeowners, approved of this. The Hartstene Pointe Homeowners Association and Department of Ecology provided a certain amount of funds to be used to secure the services of an engineer to prepare the Hartstene Pointe Outfall Plan. That outfall plan is sitting on my desk and it is not moving anywhere until the issues regarding the outfall are taken care of. That is what the homeowners association has asked and that has been the direction of the Board of County Commissioners. That until those issues are taken care of, and hopefully we come to a working understanding of how were going to get to this thing, were not moving forward with that plant.
Mr. Yando asked on behalf of the Department of Utilities and Waste Management that the Board implement a fee structure as of the first of the year. They would be willing to take a quick look and make a recommendation as to a sunset date and would be more than willing to come back and make a recommendation to the Board as to that particular item. He suggested they make the sunset at a certain year
Cmmr. Olsen noted there is always the option of an assessment to set aside in a construction reserve and it wouldnt have to be a large assessment of any type but something to get a reserve set aside for those contingencies and emergencies.
Cmmr. Bolender respectfully requested that the board take no action on this particular item at this point in time for a couple of reasons. He noted that both of the commissioner-elects are sitting in the audience and have been for most of the discussion going on. They have heard a lot of testimony from residents regarding some adjustments and some clarifications that need to take place. Since the meeting that was intended to be held with the maintenance association for the purpose of providing as much of this clarification in advance of this hearing did not occur, that it is prudent for that to happen and the folks who will be sitting at this bench in January are sufficiently filled in on the issues of concerns to the residents and could render a decision in a timely manner consistent with what Mr. Melnick was requesting in his testimony without causing undue and unnecessary delay or financial burden to the residents. He asked that the board hold the proposal, provide an opportunity for staff to get back with the residents at Hartstene Pointe and come back in January or February, whenever it is appropriate and these questions have been more thoroughly answered and submit that proposal to the board that is sitting at that time.
Cmmr. Cady/Olsen moved and seconded to continue the hearing to February 6, 2001 at 10:00 a.m. Motion carried. B-nay; C-aye; O-aye.
VETERANS ASSISTANCE APPLICATION
Cmmr. Olsen/Cady moved and seconded to approve the veterans assistance application for Terrence Lee in the amount of $400.00 and Lyle Coles for food in the amount of $50.00. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye.
The Board recessed at 12:52 p.m. until 2:04 p.m.
2001 BUDGET HEARING CONT.
The Board held the continuation of the public hearing held on December 4, 2000.
Ione Siegler, Budget & Finance Director, noted there were some minor changes made since the last hearing. There has been the addition of $6,000 for the Water Quality University of Washington Sea Grant program and a new fund is established in the 2001 budget for the DUI/DWLS Offender Program Fund in the amount of $6,500.
Maggie Rutter, Chief of Mason County Jail, spoke in support of the DUI/DWLS Offender Program. This is a program where an offender must pay $54, which is equal to a day in jail. There were videos of people driving while drunk and also speakers from the Washington State Patrol, Department of Licensing, Judge, Victims Impact Panel, and Trauma Nurse Talks Tough.
Ms. Seigler stated the budget is balanced with a 6% levy for Current Expense; 2.61% levy (implicit price deflator) for the Road Fund; 6% levy for the Skokomish Flood Control Zone District. The beginning cash carry over was increased based on the latest reports from the Mason County Treasurer.
The Board interjected that they had asked departments not to increase their operating expenses. There May have been budgetary increases from the original 2000 budget which are higher than what is reflected in the budget, but they are equal to the 2001 budget unless they came to the Board with a specific request that was justified.
Marilyn Johnston commented on the overall budget format. She did not feel the 2000 or 2001 preliminary budget were user friendly. She believed the documents should provide the public with a program narrative for each department, which explains the service needs, performed during the year. The statistical workload description which can be measured such as how many people were served and the service needs of each department. The general public does not necessarily translate the annual performance of the service needs into dollars in the same way they would if a statistical program narrative of services performed proceeded the budgetary figures. Such a process, would be more time consuming and offer the public a better understanding of what it costs the county to perform the work.
Ms. Siegler stated that the 2001 budget was based on property tax at 6% for the Current Expense Fund; 6% for the Road Fund; and 6% for the Skokomish Flood Control Zone District Fund. She presented the resolution for adoption.
Cmmr. Cady commented that each year there is a discussion about the levy rate. She felt the Board should listen to the people that are saying they do not want more than 2% levy rate. It is difficult because Mason is a distressed county.
Cmmr. Bolender also spoke in opposition of adoption of the 6% levy. He stated that he asked the question of the Budget Director earlier regarding the projected ending fund balance and beginning fund balance numbers. The difference in what was presented on December 4, 2000 and at this hearing is approximately $315,484. The difference between the $106% tax levy and the implicit price deflator is approximately $193,374. He believed there is enough room within the budget without making additional cuts to accommodate a reduction in the ending fund balance by the $194,000 to get the implicit price deflator at 2.61%.
Cmmr. Olsen/Cady moved and seconded the Board approve Resolution No. 134-00 which establishes the Current Expense regular property tax levy at 106%. Motion failed. B-nay; C-nay; O-aye.
The Budget & Finance Director noted she would recalculate the property tax rate at the implicit price deflator of 2.61% with the assistance of the Assessor.
It was noted the Board is intending to reduce the ending fund balance by $195,000.
Cmmr. Cady/Olsen moved and seconded to continue the hearing to 11:00 am on Thursday, December 21, 2000. Motion carried unanimously. B-aye; C-aye; O-aye.
The meeting adjourned at 2:32 p.m. due to no further business.
Rebecca S. Rogers
Clerk of the Board
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
MASON COUNTY, WASHINGTON
John A. Bolender, Chairperson
Mary Jo Cady, Commissioner
Cynthia D. Olsen, Commissioner