Council handles utility bill relief requests, park plan reduction
March 23, 2023
Members of the Cathlamet Town Council on Monday addressed two requests for utility bill relief, and approved plans for pickleball, Waterfront Park design changes, and boundary line changes between the Elochoman Slough Marina and the town's former sewage settling ponds.
The utility bill requests generated much discussion, with council members stating town utility connection forms should clearly explain connection policies.
In the first request, owners of the Rivermile 38 Brewery requested relief from the first two months of charges totalling $412.62 for connection to their new building which is still under construction. They said they had to complete installation in order to complete backfilling of a trench, but they haven't yet used utilities.
Town Clerk/Treasurer Sarah Clark said that under the town's municipal code states that charges start as soon as the connection is complete. The information is included on the utility application connection form.
Council Member Jeanne Hendrickson commented that she wanted the town to be fair so that people understand when charges begin.
"We tell them that as soon as the meter is connected, you'll be billed," said Public Works Director David McNally. "Don't schedule till you want water."
Council Member Laurel Waller commented that town forms should contain written information about the policy, and Mayor David Olson said that can be done.
Town Attorney Fred Johnson said the town code is in ordinance form and would have to be amended to allow the relief payment.
Council members voted 3-0-1 to reject the request; Waller, Robert Stowe and Joe Baker voted no and Hendrickson abstained.
The second issue involved two separate properties with two residences served by single utility lines. The properties had been charged as single customer units, said Clerk/Treasurer Clark, but during the recent change in the rate schedule, each were mistakenly classified as two accounts instead of single accounts.
"This would correct the mistake and issue adjustments," Olson said.
The council voted 3-1 to approve the changes. Baker, Hendrickson and Waller voted to approve; Stowe voted against, feeling they should be charged as two units.
In other business:
--The council approved Stowe's proposal to purchase equipment for pickleball and cornhole competition for Erickson Park. Stowe said the equipment could be stored at the pavilion at the park. It would be debuted at the Bald Eagle Days Festival in July, and the town can create a process for using the equipment at other times.
--The council approved dropping three items from the planned Phase 1 of Waterfront Park development. Olson and Clark said costs of materials had increased because of inflation and pushed the total above the budget and grand funding. The items include lighting, a fire pit and a wildlife viewing area.
The items could be included in Phase 2 of development, Olson said.
Waller said lighting should be included at the start and voted against the motion to drop the items; Baker, Hendrickson and Stowe voted in favor.
--Olson reported learning from Sheriff Mark Howie that contrary to comments presented at recent meetings, officers have been patrolling Columbia Street.
Over the past six months, they've issued 18 citations and made three arrests, he said.
The sheriff's department has also placed a speed display trailer along the street to remind drivers of their speed.