The board approved a $1.1 million loan agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation for costs associated with the construction of a new county ferry, discussed a suit involving county trust timber lands, and acted on other business.
The county needs about $1.1 million to cover all costs for the ferry replacement project. State and federal funds will cover most of the $4.5 million cost, but the county will also have to modify the Puget Island ferry landing, and dredge around it, to accommodate the new, larger vessel.
Public Works Director Pete Ringen said the WSDOT has offered a zero interest loan to cover those expenses. The county could pay back the loan with road department and Public Works Cumulative Reserve funds, but it is also likely that more state or federal money could be available in the next eight years, the term of the loan, that would lower the county's costs.
The board met in executive session with Prosecuting Attorney Dan Bigelow to discuss a lien filed by the company which supplied materials for replacing the flooring in the courthouse earlier this year.
After the session, Bigelow explained that the contractor had failed to pay the supplier, and the county owes for about $15,000 in flooring.
Commissioners reluctantly authorized payment.
Commissioner Dan Cothren reported that he is frustrated by the state's handling of a suit to halt logging on certain county trust timber lands.
Environment groups have sued to stop logging on timber that is adjacent to habitat for marbled murrelets, an endangered species. The county and Department of Natural Resources, which manages the county's timber trust, had planned to do some thinning logging, but were sued.
Cothren said he had participated in a conference call last Thursday with a DNR lawyer who was new to the case and lacked understanding of the issues.
"It's a constant battle," Cothren said of dealing with state officials. "You make some progress and then you get thrown back."