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Harrington news

Sheriff proposes major increase for public safety services


City Council

The Harrington City Council met Wednesday, December 14, from 7:30 p.m. to 11:40 p.m. with all council members present (Davenport, Slack, Schenk, Cronrath and Becker), clerk Bunny Haugan and two visitors, Cherie MacClellan and Marge Womach. Schenk left at 11 p.m. for work. Minutes were approved for the December 5 budget hearing as well as the November 9 council meeting.

Mayor Dillon Haas reported on maintenance, as Scott McGowan was on vacation. While McGowan was gone, Mike Herron assisted Keith Stai, as Herron has done in previous years with snow removal. The council discussed the need for a contract or hiring him as a part-time/temporary employee. They decided on the latter, and expressed the need for Herron to possess a valid CDL license.

Davenport expressed appreciation for the good job the snow removal team is doing but also expressed concern for damage to the sidewalks and curbs, suggesting that the mayor supervise or set a limit of plowing a distance from the curb. Damage was not recent, and an employee in previous years had been careless. All city water leaks are now fixed. A meter that has been freezing was replaced and lowered to prevent further issues with it. The gutter behind the Memorial Hall appears to have been hit by a vehicle and does not drain properly.

An inter-local agreement with the Association of Washington Cities Risk Management Service Agency was received for approval. The changes in the agreement were to make it consistent with the changes in the by-laws made by AWC. Resolution 205-2016 would authorize the city to enter into the inter-local agreement. Davenport wants the city attorney to view the 15 pages, and he wants time to read it before voting on it. The vote approving the resolution was 4-0-1; there was one abstention.

The councilmen and the mayor continue to work with Gloria Bennett from the Transportation Improvement Board and Bo McCanna from Belsby Engineering to eliminate the possibility of swales being installed on Second Street; homeowners on that street expressed their disapproval of swales at previous meetings. A new design for the project was viewed. The council wants McCanna to come to a council meeting to answer questions and concerns regarding: 1) a set of plans, 2) the gap between gravel and sidewalks and 3) truck traffic. It was noted that this project needs to be settled soon for work to begin in February.

The Harrington City Council had been informed last April that improvement board had selected Harrington for the “Relight Washington Program” with a grant of $25,650 to convert existing streetlights to energy efficient LEDs to reduce operating costs. This is not a matching funds grant. The work would be done by Avista Utilities. A motion to have the mayor sign the Grant Distribution Agreement passed 5-0.

Sheriff Wade Magers had sent a new agreement for law enforcement services from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office for the City of Harrington. The present contract is valid for three more years, each year allowing a 3% increase in payment to the county. The mayor said that Magers is telling him that there will also be a 56% increase in addition to the 3%. The “new” contract has been calculated by Magers to take all of the potential benefit from the recent passage of the Public Safety Sales & Use Tax. This potential tax money was planned to be a 60-40 split between the county and the towns. The new proposed contract has been increased by $11,568.12, while the expected total tax revenue with this increase for Harrington for 2017 is $11,000.00 at best, recognizing it could well be much lower. A good discussion was held regarding how the county is responsible for providing “public service,” as is the state.

The council recommended that the mayor contact other small cities and learn their response to the loss of this tax money, and that he meet with the Sheriff’s Department, keeping in mind the best interests of the citizens of Harrington. The council reminded the mayor that the citizens supported this public safety measure based on the expectation of the city receiving its 40% to be kept for the city to meet budgetary needs.

Mayor Haas discussed having attended a meeting of the Sprague City Council where the apple maggot issue was discussed with representatives from the garbage haulers. The transfer station at Ritzville, to which Harrington has been hauling its waste, will no longer accept MSW (municipal solid waste) from Harrington since we are in a quarantine zone. There will be an increase in tipping (gate) fees. Lincoln County charges less than $100 a ton while Spokane charges $105, so starting January 1, 2017 Lincoln County will likely be the receiving site. This may necessitate an increase in the garbage fees for city customers. Educating the community on how to decrease the amount of garbage generated per family will be a goal of the city in 2017.

The city council continued working on the 2017 budget as the mayor made several adjustments, as follows: 1) Current expense numbers were adjusted to accommodate the possible law enforcement contract increase; the library will put the $140 from capital outlay shelving into a line item for Library Board purchases. 2) Cemetery improvement was adjusted to not transfer the $16,000 to the cemetery but to leave it in cemetery improvement for a possible niche. 3) Add QuadCo to street construction in the amount of $8,000. 4) The salary proposed was a 0% increase but voted to increase the three salary positions by 2%. 5) A compliance officer was mentioned and Councilman Slack requested a line item for a compliance officer be included in the Current Expense Fund under Security of Persons and Property.

Another meeting was determined to be necessary to finish the evening’s agenda, tentatively set for December 20 or 21 at 5:30 p.m., when all parties can check their calendars. It is anticipated that Bo McCanna would attend to discuss the diagram and provide clarification. The meeting was adjourned at 11:39 after which more conversations were held about the unfortunate situation that Sheriff Magers has created.


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