Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Town council hears community center plan; works on park, town hall improvements

Members of the Cathlamet Town Council reviewed plans to fund a manager for the Community Center in Cathlamet when they met Tuesday.

Council members also approved concepts for improvements at town hall and Erickson Park, and they delayed action on business such as modifying pet licensing and deciding whether or not to pay employee's long term care program fees.

The council approved in principle proposals to improve the outside of town hall and to refurbish restrooms and other facilities at Erickson Park.

Improvements at town hall would include a canopy along the front. Council members were concerned that it cover the outdoor payment box and the door. The initial architect's estimate totaled $45,000; Clerk/Treasurer Sarah Clark said they had budgeted $40,000 for the work. Council members discussed adding other options that could bring the total to $56,000.

The council voted to obtain more detailed plans and a cost analysis.

"We can always turn it down if it's too much," Clark commented.

Council members took similar action with planned Erickson Park improvements.

Restrooms would receive substantial work under the proposal.

Council members expressed concern that there be enough garbage containers in the pavilion and around the park so that people don't just dump trash because it's inconvenient to reach a garbage can. Council Member Bill Wainwright asked for the addition of covered counter over garbage cans in the covered pavilion for ease of trash disposal.

The council voted to proceed with development of plans, cost details with options such as new picnic tables.

Council Member Bill Wainwright updated colleagues about progress in developing a cooperative agreement with Wahkiakum County and the Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce for funding a community center manager.

An advisory committee including center volunteers and representatives of the council and county government have been charged with developing a detailed proposal. Basically, the county would be responsible for 60 percent of the manager's salary, and the town would cover the balance.

The bottom line, Wainwright said, it would be best for the town if the county were the employer; for under county payroll, they could avoid paying benefits to a part-time employee, while the town would have to pay benefits. The town would continue to cover utilities and janitorial costs.

The advisory committee will continue to develop the proposal.

In other business:

--The council approved an agreement with Lower Columbia Community Action Program to provide energy assistance to households at or below 150% of the federal poverty level;

--The council voted to accept a grant from the Washington Department of Ecology for an update of the town's Shoreline Master Program.

An update of the program is due in 2023, Clark said, and a DOE representative said there wouldn't likely be any significant change because the town's plan was recently updated. The grant would cover reimbursable costs.

--Council Member Laurel Waller suggested the council amend its animal license ordinance to reflect developing veterinary science that suggests delaying spaying and neutering cats and dogs until they're mature.

Town licensing fees vary according to whether the animal is spayed or neutered, and Waller suggested they be adjusted to reflect the veterinary recommendations.

After discussion, Town Attorney Fred Johnson said he would draft some possible language to amend the ordinance.

--The council discussed whether or not to cover employee costs for the state's new Long-Term Care Program.

Due to the eligibility requirements, it is likely that at least half of our employees will never qualify to use these benefits, Clark said.

Johnson suggested taking no action. He informed the council that the American Federation of County and Municipal Employees has recently been selected to represent town employees, and the issue is a likely collective bargaining issue.

--The council also approved a process for transmitting confidential records to the Washington state auditor's office.

Johnson said he initially had reservations about the agreement but after consulting with the town's IT consultant, he felt the system would be secure from hackers.


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