It’s taken me awhile to recover from the shock of last night’s announcement by Mayor Transue. But there was other business accomplished at the meeting. Here is a rundown of what I found interesting. As always, I encourage you to attend and take in the full meeting yourselves. ~ Karen
The meeting began on time with Council Member Stebner arriving about 5 minutes late. After the flag salute, the agenda was amended to move the discussion about repealing the B&O tax to a study session and adding discussion of the utility clerk position and setting agendas for future study sessions. The meeting minutes were approved with minor changes.
1. LID Counsel: Blair Burroughs provided information on the LID process in general and answered questions about how such a process would work in Ruston. Because this will be an LID with only one property owner, some of the normal process would not apply. In general, there are three steps: 1) Formation: determine what the properties looks like, what improvements are planned, hold a hearing so all property owners can hear the pros and cons – then the council decides to proceed. 2) Confirmation Hearing: the amount of assessment for property owner is announced and owners can comment. There is a protest period allowed. The assessment is not allowed to exceed the value of the improvements. 3) Assessment: the assessment information is given to the county assessor. Owners can prepay or be assessed over time for their portion. Then the bonds are purchased and the improvements completed.
Tacoma has well trained staff in this area. The council can determine how much of the process they will hand over to Tacoma. Council Member Hunt asked what guarantees Ruston has if the developer goes bankrupt. Burroughs explained several options (I had to step out for a few minutes and didn’t get the details). There was discussion of an Environmental Impact Statement traffic mitigation requirement to have the developer pay for improvements on both sides of Baltimore Street all the way up to N. 46th Street. After further discussion, the council directed Mr. Burroughs to craft an agreement where Tacoma does as much of the process as possible but the agreement should have as much protection against default as possible.
2. Utility Locate Contract: Steve Taylor (town maintenance man) and the town electrical planner will give a recommendation on the issue to the council. There are two companies available for the town to use for this service.
3. Sound Inspections: After some discussion, it was clarified that the letter in the packet (from the current building inspector) is what the town is operating under to add planning services on an interim basis after the council fired the town planner. It was unclear if the letter would be added as an addendum to the current contract with the building inspector or if a new contract with the new rates would be needed. The new town attorney (or “legal services to the council” according to Council Member Albertson) would make that determination when they are hired.
4. Police Department: Chief Reese gave an update on several issues. The interlocal agreement for the small cities major incident response team was discussed. It will be explored in greater detail at a study session, after the former town attorney’s questions and the chief’s answers are given to the council. The chief is working on some hazard mitigation plans that will help qualify the town for different grants. She is working with the fire department on those issues. She is planning on a community newsletter and an open house sometime in August. The department has implemented a new program that has the officers walking for some of each shift. The chief wants feedback on how this new program is working for residents. The department will be purchasing a decibel meter and she will be working with Council Member Hedrick to improve the town’s noise ordinance as they start to implement it. The handout from the meeting is now added to the council information on Ruston Reports for this meeting.
5. Council Rules: The formal resolution required to change the council rules of procedure and remove public comment on issues prior to a vote passed 4 to 1 with Hedrick voting no.
6. Shoreline Master Plan: Ruston’s plan is not due until 2010, so it was tabled until it could be discussed at a study session.
7. Request for Proposals for paving behind Commercial Street: I had to step out and did not hear this discussion. If anyone can fill us in, please leave a comment.
8. Request for Proposals for undergrounding utilities in alley behind Court Street: passed 5-0, but I missed the discussion.
9. Credit Union Pump Station: After some discussion the council voted 5-0 to have the town take over the pump at the credit union until a permanent solution could be found, hopefully to connect a new sewer line for these homes into the Point Ruston development. Point Ruston noted that their lines will only run to the bottom of Baltimore Street, but they are willing to discuss alternatives.
10. Utility Clerk Position: The mayor informed the council that he has hired a replacement for the current clerk, who is leaving this Friday. They are interviewing for the part-time office assistant tomorrow. Hunt wants future applications to ask for details on applicants computer skills. Stebner does not want to ask for social security numbers on applications.
11. Study Session Agendas: This item should be on every agenda from now on. After some discussion, the agenda for next week (June 9th) will include a presentation from the town’s electrical planner, a presentation by Point Ruston on the status of Stack Hill (with the hope that the final plat can be approved in time to be added to the tax rolls in 2009) and a discussion of turning over all services to Tacoma on the Point Ruston property (to include police, fire and all utilities). The June 23rd study session will be focus on possible revenue sources such as Stebner’s proposed gambling tax increase and the potential impact of an incentive such as repealing the B&O tax. The June 30th study session will explore the police department’s interlocal agreement for major crimes assistance.
Public Comment: Mr. Knapp confirmed when the casino tax increase will be discussed. Ms. Maglione asked about the utility clerk leaving. Ms. Miller felt the council should have a process for issuing street obstruction permits in case of an emergency after Puget Sound Energy had to wait until the last council meeting for a permit to repair a potentially dangerous problem. I asked the council to allow public input at the next study session on important decisions like giving all services to Tacoma on the Point Ruston development. Ms. Forch asked how the public would be involved with the police department’s hazard planning. Mr. Rosier (hope I got the name correct) asked about the street improvements required by Point Ruston along Baltimore. Ms. McCamment (with Point Ruston) offered more explanation about the plans for Baltimore Street. Ms. Brown thanked the town for thinking about paving the alley behind her house. Ms. Davis thought that homeowners who benefited from these improvements (like paving the alley) should pay for them.
Claims and payroll were approved.
Mayor’s Time: Mayor Transue reminded everyone that fireworks permits are due by this Wednesday. He has appointed John Anderson to the civil service commission along with Connie Maglione and myself. He noted that the planning commission is not functioning and no appointments will be made since this would help speed up approvals for the Point Ruston development. Mayor Transue then read his resignation letter. Click here to read Resolution 418 that is referenced in this letter.
Council Time: Stebner, nothing. Huson, nothing. Hedrick thanked the mayor for his service. Albertson, nothing. Hunt was surprised at the mayor's resignation, she thought they were getting along well at the meeting tonight.
The meeting adjourned around 9 pm.