Council discusses noise ordinance revamp

TONASKET – The Tonasket City Council will be reviewing its noise ordinance after a number of reports that the current law is ineffective.

Mayor Patrick Plumb said that the majority of problems come from two causes: “Cars that seem to have no mufflers,” he said, “and others that have invested more money in their stereos than anything else with their vehicles.

“I’m not asking for public hangings, but I’d like the council to consider something more in line with what the county has had in place since the ’80s to give the police more discretion.”

Councilmember Jean Ramsey read through the ordinance and said it was “murky.” Police officer Audra Fuller said that the ordinance’s specification that defined noise as too loud if it was “something that could be heard from 75 feet away, that’s an odd description.”

Plumb said the lack of an adequate penalty has made it impossible for police to enforce the ordinance.

“Kids just laugh at a $20 fine,” he said. “I’ve had an officer tell me he had a guy tell him, ‘You can’t make me (quiet down). You can’t do blank about this.’

“The county’s ordinance includes jail time. We can’t do that, but the county is more severe and we could do more to impress on folks.”

Councilmembers Jill Vugteveen and Selena Hines, who comprise the public safety committee, were designated to review the city and county ordinances and suggest changes.

“This needs to be cleared up,” Plumb said. “It’s just one issue, but it would behoove us to check our options.”

Also, Plumb announced the Hugh Jensen and the water/sewer department received an award from the Washington Department of Ecology for outstanding performance after being found 100 percent in compliance for 2011. Only 108 of more than 300 such departments statewide managed to get through the year without a violation.

“We really appreciate the work that you do,” Plumb said to Jensen. “You are very valued, even though you’re underpaid and overworked.”

In other actions, the council:

– approved its fee resolution for the year;

– approved rural development paperwork to be signed by the mayor;

– and approved the payment of bills for the airport chip seal / line repainting project.

The Tonasket City Council next meets Tuesday, July 10, at 7 p.m.