The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Council considers code of conduct, consultant


December 20, 2018

Members of the Cathlamet Town Council wrestled with a proposed code of conduct for meetings, approved their 2019 budget, gave town employees a raise and handled other items of business at their monthly meeting on Monday.

Discussion of the resolution for the code of conduct came as item 10 on the agenda, just ahead of item 11, citizen participation. In previous meetings, citizen participation had come after item 6, the consent agenda, and before unfinished and new business.

Council Member Sue Cameron had proposed the code of conduct at the council’s November meeting, and town attorney Fred Johnson had taken it to put into a resolution for formal adoption.

The resolution had two sections, the first for council members and the second for members of the public attending the meetings. The rules generally call for people respecting each other and addressing business issues, not personalities.

However, Council Member Laurel Waller suggested that all rules apply to all persons and that there be no difference in expectations for the public and the council.

After discussion, the council agreed by consensus that Waller and Cameron would work together on a new draft for the code.

In the public comment time, Richard Erickson, former economic development director, questioned the need for the council to engage a consultant for long range planning. The economic development council had done that planning in 2006. The town could use the money for the consultant to hire an assistant manager to aid in administration now expected of council members; that person would likely have knowledge and expertise in municipal management that council members lack, he said.

“You all are forced to make decisions on things that you have no life experience with,” he said.

The town could also finance the position by selling the site of former sewer plant settling ponds to Port District 1.

“Sell the ponds and hire a manager,” he said. “Help this town move forward.”

Cameron responded that she had a different vision of what the consultant could do—setting up a process to enable the council to understand community desires and develop a strategic plan to achieve them.

She also said that no one in the town office or Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce can find a copy of the community revitalization plan of which Erickson spoke.

“I don’t see where there is competition,” she added. “They can build on each other.”

Interim Clerk/Treasurer Sylvia Costich guided the council through some amendments to the 2018 budget and adoption of the $5.9 million 2019 budget.

Before action on the 2019 budget, Cameron and Waller suggested considering giving town employees a cost of living adjustment (COLA), as had been suggested at the November meeting. Council Members Jean Burnham and Ryan Smith supported the idea.

Employees had no COLA in the 2018 budget.

Costich prepared a cost estimate based on the 2018 budget for wages; a 2 percent raise would cost about $2,222, she said, and a 4.8 percent raise would cost about $5,333.

“I’m not comfortable with less than 2.8 percent,” Smith said. “I’d be willing to go 3 percent.”

After a short discussion, the council voted to give a 3 percent raise.


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