To compete with other local jurisdictions, the Richland City Council will consider pay raises for linemen and other electrical workers as part of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local 77 contract.  The council will have a briefing on police recruitment and will end the meeting with a secret executive session to “Review Performance of a Public Employee (30 minutes).”

Details are included in the packet of information that accompanies the agenda. The meeting starts at 6:00 pm at Richland City Hall and can be viewed on cable channel 192 and streamed from Richland City View. A video of the meeting is usually available the next day on Richland City View.

Secret executive sessions

A reader recently objected to “secret” as a description of executive sessions; so it seems like a good time to review the laws.

The state law, RCW 42.30.110 lists about 20 legally acceptable reasons that a governing body can have a non-public meeting.

Richland Municipal Code 1.01.030 covers the confidentiality of the meeting, “Items discussed in executive session, because of their confidential nature, will not be disclosed in any manner to members of the media or discussed with any person other than councilmembers or persons in attendance at executive session.

Violation of this section will be discussed at the next regular meeting of the council and shall subject any councilmember found to be in violation to potential censure by the city council as a whole.”

Tuesday night’s agenda

  1. Richland’s water quality team will receive an Outstanding Wastewater Treatment Plant Award for achieving full compliance with water quality permits in 2021.
  2. The Human Resources Director, Lacey Paulsen, will announce new hires and retirements

Public hearing — You have three minutes to comment on this item.

3. Public Hearing on rules to Exhibit A of the Compensation Plan for unaffiliated employees and an amendment to Appendix A of the 2021-2023 IBEW Collective Bargaining agreement. See Item 11 and Item 12 below.

Public comment period – You have two minutes to comment on anything.

Consent calendar – these are considered non-controversial items that usually receive no discussion and only one vote for all of them. A councilmember can request that an item in the consent calendar be pulled off for discussion. Councilmembers rarely do that. Documents show that, instead of discussing questions that they have in the public meeting, some councilmembers write emails to the city manager and other members of staff for additional information.

4. The minutes for the Nov. 15 meeting must be approved. Pg. 5-11

5. Due to additional revenue and holdover funds the city has about $5,550,151 to distribute to different departments. The list is on pages 12-16 of the packet.

6. Authorizing Hyas Group LLC to provide consulting services for 401(a) Plan and Retirement Health Savings Plan. Pg. 17-32

7. Approving 2023 Hotel/Motel Lodging Tax Funding awards. Approximately $723,500 have been allocated out of the fund for marketing and capital projects. The list is on pg. 33 of the packet. Two capital projects are the big winners — $305,000 for a fitness court at Howard Amon Park and $238,000 for an Ice Age Flood Interpretive trail on Badger Mountain. Pg. 33-35.

City Manager Jon Amundson described the fitness court in an email, “Here’s a website that gives you an idea of what is being proposed. If you click on the 2-minute video, it gives you an overview of the project. However, what you see in the video is somewhat outdated because the product proposed for Richland is twice the size (about the size of a tennis court) and includes a space for group fitness classes. The proposal received a favorable recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Lodging Tax Committee. The anticipated location of the project is Howard Amon Park on the backside of the Community Center, near the Hampton Inn.” 

8. Awarding 2023 Business License Reserve Fund Grants Per RMC 5.04.385, eighteen percent (18%) of business license fees are placed in the Business License Reserve Fund (BLRF) for economic development, prevention of blight, tourism, and expenditures that support businesses. The $150,000 in awards are explained on pg. 36-72.

9. The city hired Commonstreet Consulting in 2020 to assist with right-of-way acquisitions for capital projects. This amends the contract for $43,000 to include the Gage Boulevard/Leslie Road intersection improvements. Pg. 73-75

Items of business — any action on these items requires an individual vote.

10.Police Chief Brigit Clary will discuss the police recruitment and retention program.

11. Amending Appendix A of the IBEW local 77, 2021-2023 collective bargaining agreement. “IBEW represents approximately 33 city positions: · Power Operations – 22 positions (Apprentice and Journey Lineworkers, Service Crew Leads, Heavy Equipment Operators) · Systems – 4 positions (Meter, Power & Protection Technicians/Lead) · Technical Services – 6 positions (Electricians/Lead; Electronics & Instrumentation Technicians/Lead) · Warehouse – 1 position (Warehouse Worker)

The City proposed an economic package that included an additional increase of 0.80% for the remainder of 2022 and a 4.50% increase for 2023. This proposed increase would align IBEW-represented positions with similar positions at Benton County and Franklin County Public Utility Districts (PUDs). These adjustments are captured in updated Appendix A of the 2021-2023 CBA with IBEW which is Exhibit A to Resolution No. 2022-148.” Pg. 77-80.

12. Amending Exhibit A of the Compensation Plan for Unaffiliated employee. The packet information says: “Adjusting the compensation schedule by 5.0% does not have the effect of increasing employee pay by 5.0%. Instead, it builds capacity for pay increases for those employees who have reached the top of the pay scale due to longevity and aligns mid-range compensation with market rates for similar work. Individual pay increases occur separately as a part of the City’s pay-for-performance program, and percentage increases are awarded on an individual basis based on performance.” Details are provided on pg. 81-88.

Manager and Council Comments – blah, blah, blah

Secret executive session to review performance of a public employee (30 minutes)