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

Commission hears sand concerns, works on budgets


October 24, 2019

Wahkiakum County commissioners revisited concerns about placement of dredged sand inside Puget Island dikes and handled other business on Tuesday.

East Sunny Sands Road resident Bob Getchell expressed concern that a contractor working for the US Army Corps of Engineers wasn't following proper procedures for clearing a lot on Sunny Sands that dredging crews will use to pump sand inside the dike for Columbia River channel maintenance.

He also said the dredging crews should have to meet normal noise standards, such as operating between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Commissioners said they would check with staff about the issues. Later in the day, staff toured the lot in question and discussed the issues with a Corps representative.

Commissioners agreed with a request from the county assessor to reclassify the office clerk in recognition of increased duties and responsibility.

Commissioner Mike Backman pointed out that change in status and pay increase could be accomplished within existing budgeted funds. The board should support efforts to improve service to citizens.

He moved to approve the change, and Commissioner Gene Strong seconded the motion.

Commission Chair Dan Cothren was reluctant to make the move. Department heads have been working to update the salary schedule, and he suggested waiting till that is done and the 2020 budgeting is finished.

"It opens up a can of worms," he said. "Other offices can come up with the same argument. I told folks at the salary group meeting to bring it up in their budgets."

He called for a vote, and Backman and Strong voted aye.

"Motion passes," Cothren said and moved to other business.

Commissioners continued their series of meetings with department heads to work on 2020 budgets. They closed Tuesday work with Public Works Director Chuck Beyer, County Engineer Paul Lacey and Building Inspector/Permit Coordinator David Hicks.

Beyer and Lacey asked that the board not shift as much revenue from County Road Levy to the Current Expense Fund as they did for 2019 so that they could expand maintenance activities.

The County Road levy will be around $600,000. In 2019, the commission shifted $424,000 to Current Expense to cover short revenues for that fund. They asked that the road levy be increased from $150,000 to $370,000 in 2020.

Beyer said the 2020 budget request includes an increase of $100,000 for the ferry Oscar B. The ferry will go to drydock for maintenance in January; commissioners have authorized Beyer to obtain design and cost estimates for upgrading the ferry restroom to be able to accommodate passenger use.

Hicks said he thinks the board should increase permit fees and begin charging large sheds and pole buildings for building permits. There are instances in which people say the building won't be inhabited, but soon they're running plumbing and preparing for occupation, he said, and those structures need to be built to code.

Overall, there is a lot of construction going on, Hicks said.

"Since I've been here, we've finalized 10-15 buildings that were started before I came," he said. "We have 13 new homes under construction right now."

Budget workshops are scheduled to wrap up next Tuesday so a proposed budget can be presented in mid-November. Tuesday schedule is this: 11 a.m. Civil Service; 11:30 a.m. Health & Human Services; 1:30 p.m. Prosecuting Attorney; 2 p.m. to be determined, and 3 p.m. Fair Board.


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