Thursday, February 22, 2024

City staff, councilmembers terminate county contract, discuss community land trust agreement

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CHELAN – Councilmembers and staff gathered for an agenda loaded with motion considerations, Tuesday, Feb. 27 at City Hall.
Initiating the list of items requested for motion, City Administrator Mike Jackson introduced the topic on the termination of the recycling agreement between the City of Chelan and Chelan County. Recognizing the seriousness of the matter, Jackson reviewed previous dates that have led up to the event of the request for termination of the recycling agreement between the two parties. Starting back in 2017, he explained, a contract was approved for Chris Bell and Associates to conduct a study on both the curbside recycling program and the existing program, which included the recycling station. November of 2017 brought a PowerPoint presentation to council, “and basically summarized his recommendation and the solid waste plan that he had put together, the recycling plan,” explained Jackson. The following month, Council passed a motion authorizing the mayor and staff to form a curbside recycling program, as well as a contract with Bell and Associations for the implementation of the program. “So, that’s what we’ve been doing that last several months is implementing,” he continued. During February, councilmembers approved the purchase of the recycling containers, which was followed by a letter from Mayor Mike Cooney to Chelan County, the City of Entiat, with a copy to the Council, he explained, informing all parties of the cancellation.
“That brings us to tonight,” Jackson stated after outlining the previous months events, “which is the cancellation of this recycling agreement. It’s been very successful for many years, but as we know times change, and in particular the value in commodities change.” At the time the City entered into the agreement, he explained further, they were able to sustain the program based on the sale of the recycled materials, recently however, it’s been at a cost of nearly $250,000 a year. “Moving forward with the changes in the recycling market,” Jackson added, “it’s highly likely that the it could cost a few dollars more to recycle than it does to dispose of garbage.” Also presented during the discussion of this topic was a letter issued by Director/County Engineer Eric Pierson with Chelan County Department of Public Works. This letter, was in response to the letter issued by Mayor Cooney in regard to the termination of the agreement and was written at the request of Chelan County Commissioner Doug England. Pierson stated in the letter that “while we feel it is unfortunate, we also understand financial realities.” He continued to state in his letter that during the transition to curbside recycling in the rural areas, Zippy Disposal was selected to provide curbside services, and recommends that the City of Chelan also “entertain coordinating/contracting with them to help reduce the burden of the cost to haul.”
“The City has worked to make it clear to the County that we’re doing this curbside recycling, and I know that day the first blue cans go out to the homes,” explained Mayor Cooney, “we’re not going to shut the cans down up at the recycling center, but they’re not going to stay up for more longer. So, we can’t continue running those drop box spots … it’s not hard and fast, we’re trying to be good neighbors … we want to do the right thing with recycling.” The hope is that the City and County will make it as easy as a transition for the citizens as they can, explained Chelan County Solid Waste Director Brenda Blanchfield. Outside city limit residents will have the option rather than the mandate of the recycling program. The termination will take effect 90 days from the date the mayor signs the cancellation agreement, which was believed to be the date of the meeting, advised Jackson, and the cans will be required to be removed at that time. But appropriate signage will be placed ahead of time, notifying the public of the upcoming closure of the facility along the way, stated Mayor Cooney.
Moving into a professional services agreement request with GovQA, City Clerk Peri Gallucci explained to councilmembers the benefits of this service, which will handle public records requests on a web platform. “This program will allow the people to put in a public records request online,” Gallucci explained. The program will auto-suggest similar documents based on the search terms used, allowing a user to view all documents needed at that point in time. This will allow the requester to view corresponding documents, and if their questions are answered, they will be able to cancel the public record request, saving time for both the requester and city staff. The services agreement and budget amendment were both approved for this cloud-based service.
Revisiting the topic of affordable housing and it’s many aspects, Administrator Jackson proposed the consideration of a contract with Julie Brunner to manage a community land trust for the City of Chelan. “Essentially, they’re based on the premise of home ownership with a private or non-profit 501c3 owning the land,” explained Jackson, initiating the conversation with Council. “What we would like to do is hire Julie Brenner and Associates to come into our community and help us develop what we would call the first phase of the plan.” The first part of the plan would include housing availability and needs assessments, identifying gaps and housing availability for available options and possible solutions. “That’s essentially what Ms. Brunner would do for us and help clear up a lot of the mystery,” he concluded, “and give us some good hard information and help guide us through our process.” Mayor Cooney voiced his opinion on the subject, “first and foremost, we are not to going to get affordable housing in our valley without a land trust,” he emphasized, “it is a place where people will be able to park their donations of land, capital, get their tax credit … this is remarkable, in two months, that we’re this far ahead … this has momentum like I’ve never seen with anything in our city, and we are going to get this done.”

council, meetings, recycling, land trust, Chelan

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