I encourage everyone to attend these meetings and get the full flavor of the discussion for yourself. This is what I heard at the meeting. ~ Karen
The meeting began at 7 pm. The meeting agenda was approved after moving the change to the council rules to the first item and adding discussion of council liaisons for Point Ruston and the town attorney to the end of the agenda.
The minutes were approved as presented. The police report was in the packet. The mayor confirmed that the new contract with LESA (for increased record services) had been approved, so he will sign the contract. He will limit the number of town employees emails to the 19 that are covered for free with the current services. The fire department responded to 4 medical aid call last month.
1) Council Rules: The town attorney noted that any change to the council rules should be presented as a resolution. So Council Member Albertson moved to suspend the rules and impose the new rules immediately (where public comment is limited to the end of the meeting for 2 minutes each) until a resolution could be approved. Albertson felt that the one meeting where comment was allowed on each business item the time was used by the same people to give general comments and repeat them on each item.
2) Point Ruston LID: The town attorney noted that Mr. Barrow is working on the interlocal agreement with Tacoma for the Point Ruston LID. He thought Tacoma might be interested in taking over the whole LID, with Ruston retaining its full regulatory authority. He had not approached Tacoma with the idea. The council may want to have the interlocal agreement address other Point Ruston issues such as having Tacoma provide all police, fire, sewer, water, electrical, roads, building and planning services to the property. Mr. Barrow will be at the meeting next Tuesday to answer questions.
3) Point Ruston Update: Construction on the second model home will begin in 2 weeks. A reminder that the ferry/sales center is open Thursday to Monday 11 am to 6 pm, all are welcome to visit. The project has an open call to local artists for public art in the project. Their team is working through all the easements and related issues for the new roads and utilities. They have begun design of the second building on the Tacoma side.
They have been holding off on the application of the third model home until the town has decided what to do about its lack of a planner. They suggested using the town building official temporarily for plan review services on single family homes on Stack Hill since he is a certified in plan review. It was unclear if the current contract allows for this additional service. Council Member Hunt expressed her concern again that the final plat be approved by June so the new parcels could get on the tax rolls by 2009, a process that will need engineering services in addition to plan review.
Council Member Stebner wanted to hold off taking any action until Tacoma could get going on providing these services. The mayor has asked the town attorney to review his duties and obligations as the town administrator to provide these services on an emergency basis so town can still conduct its day to day business. Hunt made a motion to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for temporary engineering services to be issued quickly. It was approved 4 to 1 with Stebner voting no.
Council Member Huson wanted to review the contract with the building official to see if the current contract is broad enough to allow adding plan reviews without amending the contract. The council must review contract changes and quick action would require a special meeting or continuing this meeting to a time certain. Albertson made a motion that the current building official provide plan reviews on all town applications for the short term and a RFQ be issued to address the long term. The mayor asked for clarification on what the council wanted in the RFQ. Albertson felt this request was another roadblock from the mayor. The motion passed 4 to 1 with Stebner voting no.
There was further discussion and it was decided to take a 10 minute recess so the mayor could schedule a meeting with the building official and the council. The mayor left a message with him during a short break. Alberston then made a motion that all planning services be provided by the current building official provided he has insurance for this new capacity. The motion passed 4 to 1 with Stebner voting no.
4) Bennett Street Right of Way Remediation: no changes requested by the council.
5) Right Of Way Access Permit: The first street obstruction permit under the new rule requiring council approval was presented at 8:10 pm. A representative from Puget Sound Energy explained the repair/upgrade they wanted to make to their line on Baltimore Street. The approval passed 5-0.
6) Resolution 419, Council Liaisons: passed 5-0
7) Resolution 420, citizen advisory committee on town real estate: The town attorney advised that committee members be informed of their legal and ethical obligations before they start (such as not using confidential information for financial gain, keeping appraisal private, etc). It was unclear if the committee meetings would be public. Hunt said four residents with real estate license had agreed to serve on the committee: Al Olson, Ken Brown, Tom Kryger and Jeff Gaydosh. Not all Ruston real estate agents have been invited. The resolution passed 4 to 1 with Stebner voting no.
8) Credit Union Pump Station: A representative from the credit union explained the background on why this pump had been installed and the current problems. She felt the best solution was for the town to take over the system since there multiple users and the former party was no longer able to maintain it as originally envisioned. There was further discussion but no action was taken.
9) Point Ruston Liaison: Hunt was appointed to replace Albertson as liaison since she has more time available.
10) Town Attorney: This is the last meeting with the current attorney, Jennifer Forbes, whose contact expires on May 31st. The town has received two resumes for replacement services. There was a lengthy discussion by Albertson and the mayor about the differences between "town attorney" and "a person with whom the town contracts for legal services". Alberston felt that the advisory people of MRSC (see links) had told him that the council had absolute control over these services under his definition. The mayor felt the state statute gave the council authority to set the contract and budget, but he alone had appointment authority. The town attorney noted that when she spoke to MRSC, they were not as absolute in their interpretation as Alberston. Council Member Hedrick confirmed that MRSC had never given a written opinion.
The full council wants to interview the two candidates, which must happen at a public meeting. Forbes will contact the two and set up a time on May 28th, 29th or 30th. The council will give the required 24-hour notice and hold a special meeting once arrangements can be made.
Claims and payroll was approved with no discussion, with Albertson abstaining.
Mr. Wingard asked the council to focus on true town business and not their "cabal harassment" of the mayor or disfavored projects.
Bill Walker confirmed the town is hiring engineering services for all town business, but Hunt noted it was temporary until they "could get with Tacoma". The mayor clarified that using Tacoma for these services was not decided yet.
Sherri Forch is working with Point Ruston on "Welcome to Ruston" signs. She asked if the homeowner had been sent the bill for the Tacoma SWAT services in January yet. The town attorney is waiting until Ruston's overtime is calculated so all the charges could be included. Forch had noted that homeowner insurance may cover the bill. The mayor asked the council to adopt a set policy if they are going to expect individual town residents to pay for extraordinary public safety costs.
Terry Knapp confirmed that the gambling tax issue will be discussed at the study session next Monday as previous advertised.
He thanked Ms. Forbes for a job well done. There will need to be budget amendment to pay The Commencement as ordered when the town lost the lawsuit over the sale center space. The utility clerk has given her notice and will be leaving in 2 weeks.
Stan Finkelstein, a seasoned Association of Washington Cities (AWC, see links) professional, is willing to talk with our elected officials. He could serve as a facilitator to help with long-range planning or to work through other issues.
The mayor has sent backup material to Tacoma's city manager (recent council resolutions and bills that outline the services provided by the previous town planner over the last year). This will help Tacoma to better understand what Ruston's needs are when they discuss planning and building services with the council.
A presentation on the shoreline planning/issues will be held on Tuesday, May 27th at 6:30 pm.
Stebner: "Take care of Jenny - we'll see ya" (I think that's what he said)
Huson: He was pleased to see the mayor had issued a proclamation to change the form of government as requested by the council. The issue will be on the primary ballot in August. After much discussion to clarify what information would be presented at the study session on May 27th, it was determined that Mr. Barrows will speak first on the LID issue at 6:30 pm, then the shoreline would be discussed until 8:30 pm. All other items (including the gambling tax increase) will be pushed back to a later study session. Hunt noted that she wanted a global discussion on increasing tax revenue, not a single focus on the gambling tax. The mayor noted the Marcott study had a list of suggested revenue sources and that the proceeds from the sale to The Commencement could be enough to hold the town until Point Ruston is completed.
Alberston: nothing, after very long pause
Hunt: She wants to attend a AWC conference in eastern Washington. The council approved sending her and paying about $500 to cover her costs. The mayor suggested the council confirm what their training and education budget was for the year as this would likely exceed it.
The meeting adjourned about 9:15 pm.