Library, park, task force occupy board
Cathlamet Librarian Carol Blix came with several supporters to the Board of Wahkiakum County Board of Commissioners meeting on November 26 to petition for financial support for the Cathlamet Public Library.
Blix pointed out that while the Town of Cathlamet funds over 85 percent of the library’s budget, over 53 percent of the library card holders live outside of town. She also reminded the commissioners that the county has provided support for 18 out of the last 20 years.
“We have asked for only 10 percent of the annual budget,” Blix said. “We do quite a bit of circulation for our size of library. We have several people who use our computers. We have quite a few people from outside the town, even from Grays River. The library is a good investment, we’re trying to be fiscally responsible with what we have and make our dollars stretch for the tax payers as far as possible.”
“We’re going to be looking,” Commissioner Dan Cothren said. “It might not happen right now. If we can find some money I will definitely funnel it that way with the support of the board.”
“I don’t think any of us are anti-library,” Commissioner Blair Brady said, “And I had wondered what it would cost to open it to the entire county.”
Addressing the interlocal agreement between the county and Port District 2 regarding County Line Park, Brady wanted language in the contract to acknowledge that the funds would be non-supplanting and discontinued once the park was able to operate on its own.
“Down the road, after the park has run for a while and is making some money, you guys will know. We will look at it again. We will look at this thing as it evolves. I’m not going to cut your funding,” said Cothren, hoping to reassure Port 2’s legal representative, Tim Hanigan, who was concerned about the new language and how it would affect the agreement.
Sheriff Mark Howie and Dan Bigelow appealed to the board for funds to pay for their partnership in the Wahkiakum-Cowlitz Narcotics Task Force.
“I’ve got $9,000 in our drug enforcement budget,” Sheriff Howie said, “and once again I’m bringing up the fact that we have not honored our contractual obligation to the task force and they’ve been doing a lot of work. Without going into detail on cases there are cases that are impacting our county right now. So I’m asking once again for our commissioners to reconsider adding $21,000 to that so we can honor our minimal $30,000 contract. We may have to dissolve this task force if we don’t commit to our share.”
Bigelow reiterated Howie’s request and added, “Hopefully we won’t get as much business because of the legalization of marijuana, but meth and heroin are still a scourge around here. I see it every day, so do the officers. So this is not a task force that has outlived it’s usefulness, but it is outliving its funding.”
Cothren agreed that the county was obligated and acknowledged the ongoing drug issues in the county.
“I’m willing to go with this,” he said, “but we’ve got to look in the future. Revenues are getting smaller. You have to weigh the different things you have to have in your office. This is going to offset that.”
The commissioners approved the $21,000 to pay its share for Wahkiakum Cowlitz Narcotics Task Force, but the program’s future remains unclear.