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

Council considers town hall improvements


August 27, 2020

On August 17, the Cathlamet town council members discussed a number of agenda items not elaborated on in last week’s edition of The Eagle. Those items include a request for proposals (RFP) approval for improvements on town hall’s office structure including the addition of an awning, new paint, signage and flower pots; they failed to approve a motion to form a steering/advisory committee for the Butler Lot; they discussed and failed to pass a motion to acknowledge the existence of a pool committee, and they discussed and carried a motion to waive the competitive bidding requirement for repairs on the town dock.

RFP for Town Hall Improvements

Clerk-Treasurer Sarah Clark presented a plan to implement improvements to town hall’s office structure. Clark suggested a series of repairs such as a new paint job as well as an added awning that would protect customers, staff and the payment box that now collects water during the rainy season. Clark’s proposal also included a three dimensional drawing and summary of how improvements could cultivate the structure into a capital asset.

“I don’t believe staff time or money should be spent in making an embarrassing situation more permanent,” responded Council Member David Olson. “Any investment in the tin shed, aesthetically speaking, gives fuel to making it a more permanent situation.”

Council members agreed that an architectural overhaul would not be practical or within budgetary reason, but utilitarian improvements should be made with consultation from contractors. The RFP approval for town hall improvements was passed under the condition that Clark would collect both a high and low quote for different scopes of work.

Butler Lot

Following the adoption of a conceptual plan for developing the parking lot at the corner of Main and Butler, Council Member Olson proposed a lot steering / advisory committee. Olson explained that due to the complexity of developing the lot, a committee should be formed to advise on a variety of elements outside the scope of the council and move the project along.

“I do think we need a time and place to talk about it, to make sure that we have the right quotes, the right estimates and the right bids . . . My proposal is that we have two council members who meet with our partners, certainly quarterly, but monthly to start,” Olson outlined.

When Pro Tem Mayor Robet Stowe called for a motion to Olson’s proposal, the council fell silent. Without a seconding of the motion, the motion would not pass.

Stowe finally spoke: “In my opinion, as soon as we start bringing in more people it tends to get mired down. Agree to a timeline and start doing it. I think at this point it’s up to staff and council to do it, not bring in another meeting, more people.”

Olson agreed that a committee might run the risk of oversteering the project but argued that without it council members would be spending agenda time on preliminary matters not yet flushed out.

“I believe these functions are staff functions. I think we can ask the clerk-treasurer or public works person or town to give us statuses monthly, but the project managing of it is a staff function,” Council Member Laurel Waller explained.

Ultimately, the motion was not seconded and the advisory/steering committee failed to reach the voting process.

Town Dock Repair

Town Attorney Fred Johnson suggested to the council that the town should close its contract with Townsend Construction who was hired to perform work on the town dock. Council Member Wainwright, who has been the project liaison, noted that the dock repairs were outside of Mr. Townsend’s scope of work and that he just wanted out of the contract.

Council members disputed whether any work was performed at all and if Townsend claimed to not bill the town. Pro Tem Mayor Stowe concluded that the outstanding amount due, $807, was not unreasonable to pay in either case because of the contractual obligation.

“I believe that his contract was to complete the work that he bid on, not to pay him for work that he may or may not have done,” Wainwright stated.

Council Member Waller advised the council to examine the invoice and determine the correct amount based on the work performed.

“I’m fine with cancelling his contract. I’m fine with a correct amount which I don’t think we have right now, but I don’t want to sweep it under the rug to be able to close the contract down,” said Waller.

Johnson elaborated that Townsend likely incurred labor and industry costs, which is standard for any public works contractor and anyone working a prevailing wage job. Therefore, compensating him for at least that amount would be advised.

More information needs to be acquired by the council before a decision to compensate Townsend is made. The discussion was tabled until the next regular meeting in September.

On a related note, the council passed a motion to waive bidding requirements for emergency dock repairs. Amended language will be added to the resolution to give the council oversight on all submitted bids.

Pool Advisory Committee

Council Member Olson presented a resolution to formally acknowledge the existence of the long standing informal Pool Advisory Committee. The pool committee, according to Olson, has existed for more than 20 years, and he pressed the council to adopt the revised resolution. A motion was made and seconded.

Council Member Wainwright began discussion with a concern about the record keeping policy included in the revised resolution. It states that the mayor should have oversight of the record keeping of the committee and that the clerk-treasurer shall keep records.

Council member Waller echoed Wainwright’s concern.

“I don’t have a problem acknowledging the existence of the pool advisory committee . . . but I believe there is too much in the resolution telling the town to be picking up functions for the pool committee,” Waller said.

Since the informal committee has existed, there hasn’t been any official record kept and effectively no historical recognition. Olson was adamant that with up to two meetings a year, record keeping would not be burdensome to the clerk-treasurer.

“We started out with a lack of record keeping and to now say ‘let’s take the record keeping out’ to me rewinds the clock right back to the problem we had in the first place,” Olson defended.

In a 2 - 3 vote, the resolution failed to pass. Waller volunteered to revise the resolution and bring it back to the council at a future date.


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