Waitsburg City Council Update
The council reviewed the 2020 budget and discussed upcoming projects.
January 2, 2020
WAITSBURG—The Waitsburg City Council met December 18, 2019 at the Waitsburg Lion’s Building. Council members Terry Jacoy, KC Kuykendall, Jim Romine, and Kevin House, as well as Mayor Marty Dunn, were present.
Rep. Bill Jenkins thanked the city council for all their hard work and reminded them that his office is open to answer questions and discuss concerns if they should arise.
Walla Walla County Auditor Karen Martin discussed the upcoming city elections, and gave more details about the election process through the auditor’s office. The City Council has been considering using resources at the auditor’s office to handle elections in the future. These services would cost the City of Waitsburg roughly $2,500. A decision will be made by February.
The City’s busiest fund, the Current Expense fund, is largely funded by both real and personal property tax and retails/sales tax. City Administrator Randy Hinchliffe noted that they have seen a slight increase in sales taxes since the Marketplace Fairness law was put into effect in Washington in October 2018. The Current Expense fund provides money for different city functions including the mayor/council, parks, pool, library, and the cemeteries. Hinchliffe noted that the budget, overall, is slightly lower than in years past, due to the outsourcing of garbage billing to Basin Disposal, Inc.
A public hearing was held to review the proposed 2020 budget. Hinchliffe walked through all the funds with the Council and provided a detailed look at large projects scheduled to happen during 2020.
New sidewalks are on the agenda for various parts of Waitsburg. The city has received a grant for $300,000 intended to help make streets safer for pedestrians.
The city received a grant to purchase a new backup generator that will be placed at the city well field location. The near-disastrous fire on Main Street last summer placed a huge strain on the City’s water source. The generator will help keep water pressure constant in the event of any future disasters.
The City of Waitsburg will receive a $575,000 Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) to complete the Millrace Grading Project. The STBG program is available through the DOT Federal Highway Administration. The funds will be used to make the intersection at Millrace and Main safer, as well as flattening and widening the area of Millrace just east of the intersection. The project includes a new sidewalk and guardrails above the railroad tracks.
The Taggart Road Extension Project received a grant from the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) for $135,000 to pave the top of the road. The new road currently needs some final grading, which was anticipated.
There are plans to replace aged water and sewer lines. The lines have been prioritized based on their material and size. There are plans to install and replace valves throughout the water system. The new valves will help prevent loss of water when working on water lines.
Councilman KC Kuykendall asked for clarification on the salary raises for the 2020 budget. The city administrator position will receive a 14 percent compensation raise, as well as a 2 percent longevity pay. The 14 percent compensation was reached after comparing salary data from towns across Washington that are similar to size and government structure. The raise will put Waitsburg’s administrator salary in line with 50 percent of other administrators across the state. Currently, the Waitsburg City Administrator position is the second lowest paid position when compared to similar cities.
The Council voted to approve the 2020 City Budget.
The Council voted to approve the TIB Fuel Tax Grant Agreement. The funds from this grant will go towards the rest of the Taggart Road Extension project.
Mayor Marty Dunn reported that there have been some issues with the light poles along Main. The City is aware and they are currently working to get the lights working properly.