Long Beach residents can expects some change, both small and large, in 2019.
Long Beach City Council adopted its 2019 budget at the council’s Dec. 3 meeting. The council also approved other measures, focused on vegetation management practices and the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The council approved Ordinance 963, in turn approving the city’s 2019 budget.
Before adoption, the council held a final workshop to discuss salary increases for city employees. Councilors ultimately decided to approve a 1 to 3 percent increase. The amount an employee earns will be determined based on job performance evaluations.
Additional budget highlights include utility tax rate increases and additions; no longer hosting a Fourth of July fireworks display; a $250,000 renovation of the Bolstad Avenue restrooms; making Culbertson Park ADA accessible; and paving streets.
The council also held a final public hearing on the budget. No attendees participated.
Several council workshops were held throughout November before the budget’s adoption.
Councilor Del Murry voted against the budget’s adoption.
Utility tax hikes, additions
Council approved Ordinance 964, which includes a 3 percent tax increase for multiple utilities and the addition of a garbage collection tax. Water, sewer and stormwater utilities were raised to 9 percent from 6 percent. A new garbage collection tax was set at 9 percent as well.
The garbage collection tax will be for those who live within Long Beach city limits and have garbage service. The tax applies to “every person, firm or corporation engaged in or carrying on a garbage collection service or business.”
“This is a small amendment; the ordinance amends existing utility rates that aren’t required for voter approval and includes a new provision for garbage,” Glasson said.
Councilors Cline and Murry voted against the ordinance.
The council approved Ordinance 965, which sets 2019 rates for multiple utilities. Water, sewer and storm water rates are included under this ordinance.
Residents will see a monthly increase of $4.22 per month. This cost is broken down into a $1.06 increase for water; a $2.60 increase for sewer; and a $0.56 increase for storm water.
“These things help keep the budget moving,” Glasson said.
Councilors Cline and Murry voted against the ordinance.
Project Community Connect
Council approved a special event permit and waived some fees for the annual Project Community Connect event.
The event connects community members to a variety of needed services such as haircuts and legal help.
The event will take place at the Train Depot from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 24.
The approval of the permit allows the event’s coordinator, Peninsula Poverty Response, to close a portion of 2nd St NE for the day’s event. In addition, the council approved waiving the Train Depot rental fee. Both actions have been approved by the council the last five years.
In 2017, 157 people were provided assistance at the event.
“I know a couple people who have used the program, it was a big help,” Councilor McGuire said. “It wasn’t just one thing, it was a community blessing.”
Over 40 providers are expected to be at the event.
“We’ve always appreciated your support,” said Bill Buck, the event’s coordinator. “This year is going to be bigger and better than ever.”
The event was previously called Project Homeless Connect but was changed to reflect that services are offered for any community member who needs them, Buck said.
Support for Cassinelli
Councilors authorized Phillips to send a letter supporting former mayor of Ilwaco Mike Cassinelli in applying for the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission.
“I highly recommend the gentleman for the position because his background makes him more than qualified for the position,” Phillips said. “I can’t think of anyone better for the position.”
The commission is made up of nine members, consisting of three at-large positions, as well as three positions each for east and west of the Cascade Mountains. Members serve six-year terms. The position Cassinelli hopes to take on was recently vacated.
The commission’s primary role is to establish policy and direction for fish and wildlife species, as well as habitats throughout the state. The commission also monitors the department’s implementation of goals, policies and objectives, which are established by the commission.
No two commissioners are allowed to reside in the same state. If appointed, Cassinelli would be Pacific County’s sole representative on the commission.
Cassinelli served as Ilwaco’s mayor for eight years, and for the city an additional 10 years. He has served on the Pacific County Tourism Board, the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council, the Pacific County Marine Resource Committee and the Water Inventory Area #24.
“We believe that Mike would be a good representative with a broad background both as an avid sportsman and operator of a commercial fishing business,” the letter reads. “Mike has spent the last decade helping the public and this is a logical extension of that public service.”
The council approved a resolution which adopts a vegetation management plan. This was required by the city’s shoreline master program. The state’s Department of Ecology reviewed and approved the plan.
The plan focuses on general vegetation management practices, as well as vegetation management in defensible space and wildland fuel reduction areas. In Long Beach, these areas largely consist of beach grass and shore pines in the western dunes.
Long Beach City Council meets next at 4 p.m. on Dec. 13 in Long Beach City Hall.