ILWACO - At their first meeting of 2009, Ilwaco city councilors were faced with the decision of whether to appoint David Nelson as the city attorney.

Citing concerns of cost, councilor David Jensen motioned to not appoint Nelson as the city attorney and to give him a 45-day notice regarding the decision.

Jensen explained that the city has had a lack of settlement and progress with the Seaview sewer negotiations and described the progress as "going nowhere." He added that Nelson would not represent the city in court if he were needed in the Sahalee water tank case. Jensen felt the city could also cut costs by hiring another attorney, possibly one who lives closer. Nelson commutes from Longview.

"It's time to get new blood into the city in terms of representation from the city attorney," Jensen said.

Council member David Johnson also expressed disappointment in regards to Nelson's performance. Councilor Mike Cassinelli described the attorney as a "flip-flopper."

Councilman Fred Marshall stated that Nelson has "served the city well for a number of years" and has a history with the Seaview sewer negotiations. Marshall felt that there have been no issues with Nelson, rather just "honest differences of opinion."

"Vague generalizations won't do when we deal with a matter of this importance," Marshall added.

Mayor Doug Hubbard asked the council to consider the costs the city would incur in order to bring a new attorney up to speed with current projects.

"That would imply we've gotten somewhere," said Jensen. "There's been very little progress and a poorly written contract."

Jensen's motion passed three votes to one.

Additionally, Brandy Ferguson was reappointed as city treasurer, and Randy Lavold was again appointed as public works superintendent.

Ferguson presented councilors with a request to allow Mayor Hubbard to sign a Black Lake Aquatic Plant Survey Contract with Turnstone Environmental Consultants. The request was granted.

Amongst discussion items was the task of setting a workshop to discuss water/sewer service suspensions. Jensen felt that the city should finish working on its administrative rules prior to setting a date for the workshop.

Marshall explained that he had put a lot of work into the water/sewer service suspension legislation, which he said would reasonably help five property owners who have requested holds or refunds. He felt there would be no need for a workshop since the legislation is simple, and suggested that the issue be listed as an action item in the future.

An administrative rules workshop was scheduled for Jan. 26 at 4:30 p.m., with a water and sewer ordinance workshop to be scheduled sometime after.

The second discussion item, pertaining to the Sahalee water tank and the Office of Drinking Water's sanitary survey, was removed from the agenda. Council members stated that more time was needed to look at the information that was provided.

During public comment, Ilwaco resident Nellie Beasley asked why there was only a holiday sign by city hall and a holiday tree downtown when there were numerous holiday decorations at the sewer plant by the port. "That's just stupid as far as I'm concerned," she stated. Cassinelli said the city may be more festive next year since there will be a new fire hall and renovated community building to decorate.

In staff reports, Lavold asked residents to report potholes to city hall so that they can be repaired.

Fire Chief Tom Williams stated that the fire trucks could not respond to calls recently because the locks were changed at the city shops and none of the fire department's keys fit the locks.

Ann Saari of the library board reported that the landscaping and design work is in progress for the community building and new library space. Randy Brown has been hired to make a sign for the new building; Dorothy Danielson will provide a new mural. Approximately $33,000 worth of new furniture and shelving has been ordered for the library. Saari thanked the Friends of the Library for their continuous support of the project by saving funds and donating $15,000 from their own funds.

Due to the recent weather challenges, Saari estimated that the community building project construction finish date would be pushed back at least two weeks. The previous date was set for Jan. 15. The library staff will then need about six weeks to further prepare the building.

She also said she was appalled that there wasn't any money budgeted this year for community building janitorial and maintenance services. Saari advised that the council make a budget amendment to fix the problem. Cassinelli agreed.

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