Waitsburg City Council Update
Council renews Pacificorp’s franchise lease, considers having elections run by the County
January 23, 2020
The Waitsburg City Council met on January 15, at the Lions Club Building. Council members present were Kate Hockersmith, Kevin House, Jim Romine, Terry Jacoy, KC Kuykendall, Mayor Marty Dunn and Student Representative Kevin Murphy. Walla Walla County Commissioner Todd Kimball was also present.
City Administrator Randy Hinchliffe reviewed the franchise agreement the City of Waitsburg holds with Pacificorp (Pacific Power). The council voted to authorize the franchise renewal which will be valid for 20 years.
City council members discussed the Polder Street vacation. Polder street is an undeveloped stretch that runs between Sam’s Corner and Waitsburg’s Town and Country Mini Storage. The council members determined that there was no economic benefit or potential for the undeveloped street and voted to approve the Polder Street vacation.
The council discussed needed updates to the city’s public records policy. Hinchliffe has been working closely with the city attorney to pinpoint which verbiage needs to be changed to comply with state law. The updates are a ‘housekeeping’ project in order to keep the city policies up to the state’s standard. The council voted to approve the updates.
During the December regular meeting, the council discussed changing the current city election system so it could be handled through the Walla Walla county auditor’s office. City Attorney Jared Hawkins urged the council to review the city charter and current election process to see if there are any provisions they would like to keep and which they would like to see changed. This will help Hawkins make a recommendation on whether or not the city should let the county auditor’s office take over city elections. The council is scheduled to make a decision at the February council meeting. A public hearing will take place during that scheduled meeting. If the council votes to move the city elections to the county auditor’s office, changes would not take effect until the 2021 city elections.
Mayor Marty Dunn apologized for any inconveniences from the inconsistent hours caused by the recent staffing changes at City Hall. Hinchliffe announced that they have hired a new deputy clerk, Brittany Zuger, and that she will start January 21.
Commissioner Kimball asked the city council to become involved with the Walla Walla Water 2050 Initiative. The Walla Walla Water Management Partnership has begun working with the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation and stakeholders from both Washington and Oregon, as well as the Department of Ecology, to design a 30 year, strategic water management plan. More information on the initiative can be found at http://www.ecology.wa.gov.
Hinchliffe reported that a problematic beaver was successfully trapped on December 25, 2019. The beaver, described by Hinchliffe as ¾ the length of a pickup tailgate, had been trying to dam up a section of the Touchet River upriver from Preston Park for over a year. Hinchliffe said that he did speak with Fish and Game many times, and they gave him the go ahead to remove the animal.
Waitsburg City Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be February 19, 2020, at 7 pm.