Tonasket hears proposal from Oroville Housing Authority

TONASKET – Cheryl Lewis of the Oroville Housing Authority approached the Tonasket City Council at its Tuesday, April 10 meeting to propose forming a joint housing agreement to help the cities to join forces in dealing with housing issues.

Lewis said that she had talked to the City of Oroville and that her proposal had received a positive reception.

“My goal is to see the needs of the north end of the county served,” Lewis said. “I feel I can fight for what we need with the county, and I’m willing to step in and do that with Tonasket.”

Forming the joint authority would involve amending existing bylaws, setting up a joint agreement between Oroville and Tonasket, and bringing Tonasket representation onto the housing authority board, which could expand from its current five members to seven.

“Most of our revenues come from rent and developer fees,” Lewis said. “We’re tax-exempt, but not 501(c)3. There aren’t many small city housing authorities, and in this state we’re pretty unique in how we operate.”

Lewis said the housing authority has a positive relationship with local landlords, as most of their tenants are low-income. Those that don’t meet the criteria for low-income housing, she refers to other landlords.

Councilmember Scott Olson asked what the advantages, in addition to housing, a joint agreement would bring.

“Housing is the obvious thing,” Lewis said. “We can bring services in. If our citizens need community action with PUD and DSHS. We work as a referral agency for DSHS. We do a lot of relations for people who need help in resolving issues with their landlords.”

Mayor Patrick Plumb opted to pass the proposal on to the council’s housing committee of Julianna Griffin and Jean Ramsey.

“Thank you so much for presenting,” he said. “We’re really pleased that Oroville would like to work with us. I think we need to stand together.

“We have huge waiting lists for rentals, and no place to put people who need housing.”

Concession sales at issue

Councilmember Jean Ramsey said she was approached by a representative of the Tonasket Soccer Association asking about the possibility of providing concessions at the soccer fields for more than just the big season-ending soccer tournament weekend.

“I’d like to be proactive about this,” said Councilmember Olson. “Last year there were other people vending at the tournament. We were going to try to discourage that.”

“They need to go through the proper channels to get their solicitor’s license,” said Councilmember Jill Vugteveen.

After some discussion, which included whether or not vendors could get a permit directly from the city office, or whether or not vendors could be given blanket consideration through a permit given to the soccer association as a whole, Mayor Patrick Plumb decided to set up a committee to propose a policy.

“I’d like to set up an ad hoc committee with (city clerk) Alice Atwood and (police chief) Robert Burks to come up with something with (attorney) Mick Howe, and bring it to council for approval.”

“I think it would be great if the soccer association could get the permit to cover all the vendors they want to let in,” Olson said, noting it would be easier for the association to have the police remove other vendors that weren’t there with their approval.

In other reports, Jill Vugteveen (a U.S. Forest Service engine captain) said that there were about 3,000 acres of planned burns scheduled to take place this year, which is typical.

“We really want to give people a heads up about their burning,” she said. “If they’re not tending their fires, I would probably make contact with them because we’ve already had a couple of unusually big fires this year.”

City clerk Alice Attwood said that the PUD was repairing the streetlights on Highway 20 near the school that have been inoperative since last fall.

Plumb also said that he was involved in discussions for an underground ballot box drop off that could possibly be installed in front of city hall and would be used like a book return.

“We have a voting booth (for the disabled) that hasn’t been used since 2002,” he said. “Maybe if we could get a grant for this, it’s like a hardcore mailbox. I think Tonasket would be a good place for that.”

Councilmembers Scott Olson and Ramsey met with Highland Associates, the conservation district and a number of landowners to discuss how to deal with the state of the lower part of Bonaparte Creek near the Legacy Project.

“It’s just getting trashed,” Olson said. “They’re transient people that are using it. What can we do to that area so it doesn’t have to be cleaned up every year?”

Ideas included fencing off the area, or creating a small park in the riverfront area and trail to help draw walkers out of the railroad avenue between the old sheds.

“They were productive meetings,” Olson said. “But we haven’t moved anything forward at all.”

Also …

In other business, the council approved a call for bids for the airport project and will advertise in local newspapers as well as contacting the engineer to determine other appropriate places to advertise.

In addition, the council approved the purchase of new utility billing software at a cost of $11,200, plus a $1,425 yearly software assurance contract. The primary advantage of the new package will be its ability to interface directly with the newer digital meters. It also will mean the end of the “postcard” utility bills. The new tri-fold bills will also allow for the city to add additional communications to the billing statements along with utility billing information.

A code review meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, April 17, 7:00-8:30 p.m. A public hearing regarding the Corso annexation was added to the beginning of the next regular meeting of the Tonasket City Council, which is scheduled for Tuesday, April 24, 7:00 p.m.

About Brent Baker

Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

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