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Harrington news

Long council meeting, rummage sale


December 21, 2017

Harrington City Council

The Harrington City Council met December 13 for its monthly meeting and public hearing with the following present: Mayor Dillon Haas; Clerk Bunny Haugan; Maintenance Supervisor Scott McGowan; Council Members Mike Cronrath, Peter Davenport, Justin Slack and Rick Becker and visitors Gavin Wagner; Marge Womach; Brent Wilday and Cherie MacClellan.

Gavin Wagner introduced himself and stated that he came to learn what city requirements might apply to him placing a small silo on a cement pad and attaching it to the garage at his residence at 16 West Adams. He purchased the silo and it has been delivered to his property. He intends to use it for storage of gym equipment. He brought photos of the silo to share with the council and stated that it is 10 feet high at the edges with a maximum height of 15 feet at the center. Wagner was given a copy of Ordinance #319 detailing the R-1 requirements for compliance with the building code for the City of Harrington. Discussion was held regarding distance from the property lines, height and consideration of neighbors. There did not seem to be a need for a variance, but Wagner would need to apply for a building permit prior to beginning construction, which he plans to begin in the spring if there are no objections from the city.

Minutes from the November 8 and 16 meetings were reviewed, with the November 8 minutes approved unanimously. Mayor Haas took issue with the numbers provided by the County Assessor’s Office for the levy amount used in Resolution 207-2017 and requested it be changed to his figures. The November 16 minutes were then ordered altered and approved by a 3-0-1 vote (Becker abstaining).

The mayor and McGowan provided the maintenance report to the Council stating that the snow equipment is ready for the seasonal snow and that, as directed, the crew made a dry run with the plow on Second Street, noting that no problems had occurred.

Considerable discussion took place regarding McGowan’s education for Level II and the $600/month expended while the city waits for his certification. McGowan is waiting for his test to be scheduled; no information was provided regarding how often the tests are offered.

Councilman Slack questioned the mayor about the DMR monthly reports which must be submitted regularly. Haas responded that they were out of sequence but that the flow meter had not been working, which would make them incomplete. Slack reminded him that DOE wants the city to submit the monthly reports, even if they are incomplete, to avoid being penalized. The mayor stated that he’d been on the phone with them, as well as having sent emails. (In the previous meeting in July 2017, the DOE representative, Diana Washington, stated she needed the paper work in hand regardless of phone calls, emails or even personal visits.)

McGowan was reminded “to shop locally” in Harrington or Lincoln County, whenever possible. Discussion was held about setting up an on-line account or getting a debit card.

The municipal solid waste contract has not been completed, but apparently the mayor and Marc Torre from Sunshine Disposal have been communicating and will prepare a contract for review by the city attorney as soon as possible. Regardless, the mayor stated that “on a handshake” Sunshine will pick up garbage on January 3 even without a signed contract. Slack and Becker advised the mayor to incorporate the newest revisions that they had received into the contract.

The health plan offered through the Association of Washington Cities has changed, as discussed last month. Council authorized the mayor to sign the AWC Master Participation Agreement.

Councilman Slack attended an elected officials essentials workshop in Airway Heights on December 2, thus meeting the state’s Open Government Training Act requirements. Slack reported on the session and strongly encouraged all the council members “to attend as many of these training opportunities as possible to increase our education and be pro-active.” These sessions are recommended by the Risk Management Service Agency to comply with regulations. They are recommended for council members or mayors and are available online. Taking such courses reduces deductibles related to the city’s insurance.

During the November 16 meeting, the council voted 4-0 to set a new base rate for inactive utility accounts. Resolution 208-2017 was presented for adoption showing that sewer rates for inactive accounts would be $35 per month and inactive water for $10 per month, plus the current 20% utility tax which will be $9, effective January 1, 2018. Also the turn-off and turn-on charges for water service would be $10 during regular working hours (8-5) and $15 during legal holidays and weekends. Cronrath felt using the language of current city utility taxes would cover any possible tax changes in the future.

At 9:06 p.m., the mayor opened the public hearing for the preliminary budget. The mayor provided a summary of changes requested at the 2018 draft budget hearing in November. The following comments were heard: 1) Audit budget increased to $11,700 due to legislative impact of delaying the city audit until April 2018; 2) Cell phone expenses not accounted for previously; 3) Added utility tax revenue would cover building and maintenance repairs at Memorial Hall; 4) Expenses for an enforcement officer; 5) Additional training fees for water and sewer personnel; 6) Professional services for level 2 certification; 7) Increase in inactive sewer and water accounts; 8) Adjust water fund revenues to maintain infrastructure and recover fund from Second Street project; 9) Correct Fund 409 to Capital Improvement Fund; 10) Allow for niche funding at cemetery; 11) Allocate $500 to cover bridge inspection; 12) Wages were discussed in detail and comments were heard regarding wages that need to be brought up to more realistic hourly earnings when and if added certifications are obtained. The public hearing closed at 10:37 p.m.

A motion by Councilman Cronrath and second by Rick Becker approved adopting Ordinance 494, the final budget for 2018, to reflect a two percent increase in wages for Scott McGowan, Keith Stai, Loretta Haugan and Marjorie Womach, plus a 75-cent-per-hour increase if and when McGowan or Stai acquires additional water or sewer certifications.

Cherie MacClellan informed the council that Susie Harding is organizing a quarterly “Breakfast with the Mayor” at the Memorial Hall on Saturdays at 8 a.m. starting January 20, 2018.

The McGregor building located on city property west of town is being offered for sale to the city by the McGregor Co. for $20,000. Their lease expires in May. The council discussed the cost of necessary upgrades if the city were to take over the building to make it usable (heating, insulation).

The meeting adjourned at 11:12 p.m. This was the final council meeting for Councilman Becker. He has served as a City Council member in Position #1 for 20 years and chose not to run for this position for a sixth term. A tribute was given to him for his years of valuable service to the City of Harrington. He was praised for his consistency and for the fact that he could be depended upon to be an advisor and a voice of reason.

The City received an email from Margie Hall of the Lincoln County Economic Development Council informing the city that Community Development Block Grant project manager Phyllis Cole had validated the 2017 Income Survey conducted by the EDC. They confirmed the result showing 53.3 percent of residents with low-to-moderate incomes from 184 occupied households (415 persons) in the city’s water and sewer service area, based on a random sampling, with 128 valid surveys collected. Harrington is now an eligible applicant for additional grants.

Opera House Society

rummage sale

In spite of a nice dusting of snow Saturday, the Opera House Society’s rummage sale began at 10 a.m. and continued until 2 p.m. Lots of merchandise exchanged hands, and the donations amounted to nearly $300. Many of the members of the Society were on hand, and it was a fun day in spite of the cold temperature.

Rummage sales will be terminated for the winter months and a tentative plan for reopening for Cruizin’ Harrington has been suggested. The Post and Office donate and delivered a “hot lunch special” for the sales crew. Just before closing a car-top luggage carrier was donated. Interested parties may call Carol at 509-253-4748 for details.


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