Commissioners fund County Line improvements
January 15, 2014
Wahkiakum County commissioners agreed to fund restroom improvements at County Line Park when they met Tuesday.
The county has leased the park to Port District 2 after Cowlitz County, which operated the park since its opening, wanted to shed operation of the park last fall. Port 2 began upgrading RV and overnight camping facilities, and when the port opened bids for restroom facilities, bids were well over the port's budget.
On January 6, port officials wrote commissioners to request county support of the project.
"Port 2 estimates the total cost of repairs to be $100,000," Port Manager Janet Bryan wrote. "We are requesting $50,000 from the county's Capital Improvement Fund to help restore County Line Park to proper working condition."
Prosecuting Attorney Dan Bigelow told commissioners they would have to modify their recently approved Capital Improvement Plan because the project wasn't on the list.
In response to a question from Commissioner Blair Brady, Port Commissioner Lori Scott said the request was for a straight $50,000 and not a matching amount; if the project went over $100,000, the port would cover the difference.
County Commission Chair Dan Cothren spoke in favor of the project.
"It's a county park that they're running," he said.
After a bit more discussion, commissioners voted to fund the request. Scott added that the work will provide potable water to the park and that the port has hired a host for the park.
In other business,
--Commissioners agreed to hold a workshop with other officials to discuss a wage increase or merit increase to non-union employees who are typically chief deputies of the department heads.
Bigelow commented that the employees had been neglected over the years and the health care costs have sky rocketed. There is a mechanism for merit raises that hasn't been used in years. Merit pay would total only $21,000 for the year, he added.
Cothren said he favored trying to do something, but with structure.
"These folks are going backwards," he said.
Brady commented that all employees had received a 3 percent raise last year. However projected revenue won't cover projected expenses and the board is diverting $200,000 of the County Road Levy to Current Expense.
"That's not a sustainable way to run a budget," he said.
The board agreed to hold a workshop meeting with other elected officials at 11:30 a.m. on January 21.
--Commissioners expressed displeasure with reports that Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials had sought permission to kill elk calves on farms in the Elochoman and Skamokawa valleys. Department biologists wanted the animals as part of a study of hoof rot disease.