tonasket city hall

TONASKET — The city council approved to spend up to $4,500 for Jeff Moran of the city’s engineering firm Varella & Associates to apply to the state Department of Ecology (DOE) for a storm water grant/loan. Council member Marylou Kriner opposed.

Kriner said the city was approved for an $87,000 grant from Ecology for the city’s storm water management plan July 1, 2018, and the storm water fund currently has just $10,000 in it.

When resident Roger Castelda asked from the audience what the grant/loan would accomplish, City Clerk Alice Attwood said the funds were for taking care of the city’s storm drainage problem in the downtown core area

Attwood said the money for the grant/loan application will come from the storm water fund.

Council members answered several questions from the audience about the storm water project and its relation to the Perfect Passage project.

“Right now, cities with a population of over 10,000 are required to have a storm water system. At some point the DOE will expect communities like us along the Okanogan River to have a storm water system, and if we all compete (for funding) at the same time, our chances are a lot less,” said Council member Jill Ritter. “We are trying to be proactive with putting that system in.”

When audience member Joann Dagnon asked if the matching 15 percent of the grant due from the city would be funded by raising water rates, Ritter responded even with an increase, Tonasket’s water and sewer rates would still be comparable to surrounding communities.

Ritter and Levine both said in an attempt to clear up rumors after receiving emails about the Perfect Passage project, they wanted to clarify it was not a “frivolous city beautification project,” but an attempt to gain funds to fix decaying city infrastructure below the street and prevent flooding of area businesses by installing the storm water system.

Council members said a Perfect Passage meeting is planned for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 in City Hall.

In other business, the council:

  • Accepted the 2020 Preliminary Budget following a public hearing and answering questions from the audience. The 2019 budget was $52,356,568 and the 2020 budget is estimated at $52,053,864.
  • Had a public hearing for the purpose of applying for the USDA Rural Development funds for the replacement/repair of the roof on the city shop. Kriner said public works employees could not work in the city shop due to black mold, and City Superintendent Darren Johnson was asked to look into possible temporary rental of shop space.
  •  Approved an ordinance setting the tax levy for 2020 at an increase of 1 percent.
  •  Approved continuing a land lease agreement at the city airport, in place since 2010.
  • Lifted the summer burn ban and discussed coordinating next year’s fire ban timeline with the county’s ban.
  • Approved signing legal documents to pay back a loan for repairs to the roof on city hall.
  •  Heard reports from council members and department head reports.
  •  Observed a moment of silence in memory of Christian Johnson, who died Oct. 2 from injuries sustained in Spring Coulee Fire Sept. 29.

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