TONASKET – For their first piece of business at their Tuesday, July 26 meeting, the Tonasket Council officially renamed the Day Park to Founder’s Day Park.
“We keep hearing it called Founder’s Park,” said Alice Attwood, Tonasket Clerk/Treasurer.
“I’m not sure that Founder’s Park wasn’t put out like a hat to be tried on,” said Councilwoman Jean E. Ramsey.
Councilwoman Jill Vugteveen added she has heard the park referred to as “Founders” and “Pioneer.”
Councilwoman Julianna Griffin said she hears the park referred to as Founders Day Park, which ties in with the city’s annual celebration.
The council agreed and the name was officially changed to “Founders Day” Park. The park, located south of the Tonasket Visitor Information and Business Resource Center, features murals depicting early Tonasket pioneers, benches and a gazebo.
In other unfinished business, the council revisited whether to join in an interlocal agreement with the Okanogan County Conservation District.
After clarifying that the cost of joining the district would impose a fee of $2.40 for each parcel owned by property owners within the district, the council decided to hold a public hearing before their next meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 9.
“I have four parcels all in the same place and receive four tax bills so I’d pay $9.60,” said Councilman Scott Olson.
Councilman Ramsey said she’d be afraid of getting “strung up by her thumbs” if she voted for joining the district.
“With all the expansion and having three different water sheds, the Conservation District is a good benefit to have as a resource,” said Mayor Patrick Plumb.
“We would also have access to other grant resources, yet I’m sensitive to the tax issues,” said Olson, suggesting the public hearing.
“I think it is a wonderful organizations, but it is very easy for me to say ‘raise taxes’ as I don’t own anything,” added Griffin.
The council also revisited the issue of whether to leave all the pedestrian gates at History Park open at night or to keep them closed as is called for in the ordinance. After some discussion, it was agreed to accept the Park Committee’s recommendation of closing all the gates at night, but unlocking the north pedestrian gate that leads to the trailer park during the day.
In his mayor’s report, Plumb said he attended the last meeting of the Tonasket Comancheros and that they were pleased with the success of the Truck and Tractor Pull.
“They also expressed a strong desire to enter talks about annexation,” said Plumb, referring to the Tonasket Rodeo Grounds property south of town.
“I think this is an opportune time to start forward planning… it may be a 10 to 15 year process. They’d like to have their waste processed like the Mill Drive project,” added the mayor.
Plumb said the county and state property located between the rodeo grounds and the city could not hamper a petition for annexation.
“This is also an opportunity to bring in more sales tax revenue and other businesses have expressed a desire to build out there,” said the mayor.
Under new business, the subject of random drug testing for city employees was discussed. Clerk Attwood informed the mayor and council that the city attorney, Mick Howe, has said that it was not legal to adopt a policy requiring all employees have random drug testing. However, a Sunnyside, Wash. ordinance requiring their city employees to be randomly tested for drugs still stands.
Councilwoman Vugteveen expressed concern that such testing would result in a large financial cost to the city.
City workers who are part of the Public Works Department already take random drug tests to maintain their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
“I am asking why are we discussing this… do we have a problem?” asked Olson.
“Some of the officers expressed concern because we had a guy come in and said ‘some of your officers are on the take.’ They want to show that their reputation is unquestionable because they have passed three random drug tests,” said the mayor.”
Vugteveen asked why the mayor was putting out such an effort when only a few people have brought the matter up.
“I’m uncomfortable with it unless it’s about their job or performance and it has already been mentioned that it’s done for a CDL and I can see why the police might have it,” Olson said.
The mayor said if there was a legitimate concern that a worker had a drug problem then the city already has a policy that addresses the issue.
“My direction was to bring it up and see how it went. If the council doesn’t want to pursue the matter I am all right to table it until we have an issue,” said the mayor.
Kurt Danison, a planner under contract with the city, discussed several issues. First he asked the council to review the Park Action Plan, which includes declaring the city pool as “obsolete.”
“Our pool is a prime candidate for RTO funds. If we declare it obsolete it doesn’t make us ineligeble for new funds, it just makes it so we no longer have to pay back funds we got for it in the 1990s,” said Danison. “Basically we would not open the pool next year and bank the money. Then we would go through the process and make both applications for funding,” said Danison, explaining that funding would not be available until 2015 or 2016 and that the money saved by not opening could be used for matching funds.
The pool, constructed in the mid-1940s, is currently out of compliance with several codes, according to Danison. He further explained that even though the pool was being used this year, it is broken and that the city put a “band aide” on it that fixed it enough to open.
“But we are not going to be able to continue to band aide it together,” Danison said.
Currently the pool produces about $8000 in revenue annually, but costs $40,000 to operate.
The second item Danison wished to discuss was acceptance of updates to the Draft Comprehensive Plan concerning amendments to Title 17 Zoning Code, Title 16 Subdivision Code and updates to the Land Use Designation Map. Once the draft documents are accepted then a 60-day review and SEPA process can begin, according to Danison.
The council accepted the draft documents and a public hearing has been set for Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.