A proclamation for Mayor Alvarez
A pay raise for City Manager Amundson
Incentives to help Police Chief Clary hire new officers for her department

First on the agenda is a “Proclamation of Appreciation with Plaque for Mayor Michael Alvarez.” Alvarez served on Richland City Council for five years. He spent at least part of two of them running for a position on the Benton County Commission. He was successful in November. He will remain on Richland City Council until he is sworn in at the county on January 3, 2023, so there will be no gap in taxpayer funding for his medical and other benefits. The city council has collected 10 resumes from people who want to replace him.

The city manager will get an eight percent raise.

The council will vote for a raise for councilmembers who are serving in 2026 since councilmembers aren’t allowed to vote themselves a raise.

To compete with other police departments, the Richland Police Department wants to offer incentives to new hires and payments to people who make referrals.

On November 15, the three women on the city council heard staff pitch tax breaks for developers. The four men didn’t show up for the workshop but all seven will vote to designate an area for possible tax breaks at the Tuesday night meeting.

The agenda and packet have the details. The page numbers below correspond to the pages in the packet.

The meeting will be at city hall — ya’ll come — plenty of seats available. You can also watch it on Cable Channel 192 or stream the meeting from Richland City View.

  1. Proclamation of Appreciation with Plaque for Mayor Michael Alvarez.

Public Hearing – Residents have three minutes to comment on these.

2. A utility easement under 1728 Horn Avenue will be declared surplus and given to the current owner. Pg. 263-266. As is often the case with these easements, the property owner has built something on top of it.

Public Comment – You have two minutes here to comment on whatever you’d like.

Consent calendar – Nothing here will have a discussion, and all will be voted on together. A councilmember has the option to pull an item off the consent calendar for discussion and separate vote, but they rarely do. Instead, records show, they ask questions of the city staff via email that you can only see if you make a record request.

3. Approving the city council minutes for December 6, 2022.  Pg. 8-13

4. A new ordinance will be approved for compost procurement. The city must comply with a new state law requiring the use of compost unless none is available. Pg. 14-27

5. The council will approve a pay increase for councilmembers serving in 2026.  The 5 percent increase from $1329 a month to $1396 a month won’t happen until 2026 since council can’t raise the salaries for themselves. The percentage conforms to the raise for unaffiliated employees. Pg. 29-31.

6. Renaming some funds in the municipal code. Pg. 32-48

7. Approving the operating agreement with Benton County Emergency Services for 2023-2027.  Richland operates the SECOMM (Southeast Communications) Center that is responsible for 911 calls for Benton County. Pg. 49-55

8. Authorizing award of a bid of about $860,000 to Iron Horse LLC for Trenchless sewer rehabilitation project. This includes lining old pipes, so they won’t leak. Pg. 56-59.

9, Authorizing the Richland Police Department recruitment and retention program. Since 2021, 22 officers have left the department. RPD currently has 6 vacancies in addition to 5 new positions in 2023. To compete with other departments, Richland will offer $5000 in moving expenses to lateral hires after successful completion of the probationary period, and those hires will also receive 80 hours of banked vacation upon their start date. City of Richland employees are eligible for a referral incentive of $1000 for an entry level referral and $2000 for a lateral officer referral. Pg. 60-62

10. Authorizing a $69,600 Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission Grant for Officer Wellness. Includes mental health support services. Pg. 63-67

11. The city council will consider renewing the lease on 1,278 acres of farmland, 901 acres are irrigated, to Frank Tiegs, LLC for $720,804 a year. He has leased the land for the last 10 years. Pg. 68-88

12. An application to divide 18.44 acres into 57 residential lots at Badger Mountain South. The hearing examiner granted conditional approval.  Pg. 89-127

13. Designating a large swath of north Richland west of 240, north to Battelle Blvd. and out to the Horn Rapids Community as a “Targeted Urban Area.” If a new business meets the requirement for investment and promises at least 25 jobs, the city will give them a property tax break for buildings in this area. The breaks will be considered on a case-by-case basis and only for 10 years.  Richland staff discussed this and several other tax breaks on Nov. 15.  Pg. 128-131.

14. Appointing Heather Cunningham and Gage Heaton to the Parks and Recreation Commission.  These were the only two applicants for the two positions. Pg. 132-133

15. The council will vote to raise the city manager’s salary by 8 percent, from $205,000 to $221.400. The packet paperwork mentions the 5 percent “range movement” that the council adopted for unaffiliated employees.  See link in item 5.   Pg. 134

16. Checks for November. Pg. 135-209

Items of Business – Each of these items receive a discussion and a separate vote.

17. Homeless housing and assistance. The city council will consider an agreement with Benton County that includes, Benton City, Kennewick, Prosser and West Richland for the administration of homeless housing and assistance plans and programs. The amount of funding listed is $1.8 million. Pg. 210-223

18. “Affordable Housing for all Surcharge.”  The state collects a $13 surcharge on certain documents recorded with county auditors. This renews the agreement that Benton County administer the fund for housing for residents below the 50 percent area median income. Examples are local emergency shelters and youth shelters. Nowhere in the provided documents is there any mention of the amount of money collected and spent from this fund.  Pg. 224-235

19. Benton County will also be approved to administer the local homeless housing and assistance plans and programs. The funds come from the state sales tax. “The funds” (no figure here) “must be spent on projects that serve persons who have incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median income of the city imposing the tax. Pg.236-247

20. Agreement to pay approximately $300,000 for a pro-rata share of the Benton County District Court Budget. Pg. 284-262

21, Declaring surplus a utility easement lying within 1728 Horn Avenue. Pg. 263-266

Reports and Comments

City Manager and City Councilmembers blah, blah, blah