Commissioners finish initial budget work, approve ferry work
November 7, 2019
Wahkiakum County commissioners covered lots of ground this week, including wrapping up their work on preliminary budgets for 2020.
Besides budget work, commissioners approved installation of gates at the KM Transfer Station and design of expanded restroom facilities on the ferry Oscar B.
Commissioners and department heads have been discussing requests for two weeks, and the board completed that work Monday and Tuesday. The board agreed to follow recommendations of a salary committee to adjust wages and salaries of union, non-union and elected officials. However, they declined to make some adjustments to employees' status on the salary schedule, saying they'd wait till next spring when they should have a good understanding of the county's financial position at that point.
"We (the salary committee) put a lot of time and effort into it," said commission chair Dan Cothren, a member of the group. "Basically, it gets us back to where we should have been. We've got to be able to keep our folks. I think it's within reason and a good time to do it financially."
"I'm good with it," said Commissioner Gene Strong.
The board agreed to increase the wage and number of hours funded for the manager of the county fair. Fair officials had sought the increase in hours so that the manager could be available for the special events held almost monthly at the fairgrounds and also to have office hours.
The board agreed to continue funding support for the Cathlamet swimming pool. However, they budgeted no funds for either the Cathlamet library or the Johnson Park library, for no representatives presented a funding request.
"No requests came in, so no funding," said commission Chair Dan Cothren. "They can come in later and make their case."
During their Tuesday proceedings, commissioners authorized Public Works Director Chuck Beyer to contract with Elliott Bay Design Group for a design to expand the restroom capacity on the ferry Oscar B.
The current wastewater holding tank has capacity only for crew use; passengers are advised to use portable toilets at either the Westport or Puget Island landings. The design would increase capacity to allow passenger use.
Beyer said the design should be completed so construction work could occur when the ferry goes to drydock in January.
Commissioners also authorized installation of gates at the KM Solid Waste Transfer Station.
People have begun dumping garbage at the station when it is closed, Beyer said. Recycling bins will be moved so that they can be accessed at any time, but access to the dumping bins will be limited to Thursday and Saturday open hours.
Commissioner Cothren also said he found a group of hunters camping at the transfer station; they had gathered lots of wood for a bonfire. He advised against that, for the wind was blowing hard and the surrounding forest was very dry.
Cothren said that he, in his employment as security manager for Hancock Forest Industries, had just dealt with a wind-driven 60-acre fire in Pacific County's Nemah River drainage.
Beyer said regional fire marshals haven't banned outdoor burning, but they're asking people to restrict their outdoor burning in this unseasonably dry weather.
"People should use some common sense, if possible," he said.