Richland is the last of the Tri to discuss legislative priorities which will be on the “Items of Business” section at the end of Tuesday’s agenda. Pasco’s lobbyist led Pasco City Council’s discussion on Oct.24. State Senator Matt Boehnke and newly elected State Legislator April Connors, both of the 8th Legislative District that includes Richland, joined the discussion with the Kennewick City Council on Dec. 13.
Richland continues to seek funding for improvements on Hwy. 240, particularly the bottleneck at Aaron Drive. Also, on the priority list is funding to improve the water quality in the mouth of the Yakima River at Bateman Island and funding for the Tri-Cities recovery center.
Richland opposes state efforts to ban single-family zoning that is intended to address the state’s current housing shortage. The legislative priority list vaguely describes that position in this long sentence: “Richland opposes any legislation that preempts local land use authority but supports zoning and land use policies that create flexibility and incentives to help cities provide more equitable access to housing in our cities, recognizing that the one-size fits all approaches do not work across all of Washington’s cities.”
To follow-up on the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision on State vs. Blake that ruled that people could not be arrested for possessing a controlled substance because it couldn’t be proven that the offender knowingly possessed it, Richland is banning the use of controlled substances in all public places.
The city will pay Construction Group International about $437,000 to demolish the old motel at 515 George Washington Way. The most notable feature of this item is the lack of information. The city hired an unknown consultant for an unknown amount of money, to find unknown environmental contaminates and create bid documents that resulted in this $437,000 contract.
The city has been putting this information at the bottom of the agenda so it is easy to miss, “This meeting will be broadcast live on CityView Channel 192 on the City’s website and on the City’s YouTube Channel. Richland City Hall is ADA accessible. Any individual who has difficulty attending the meeting in-person may request to provide comments remotely. (Ch. 42.30 RCW) Requests for sign interpreters, audio equipment, and/or other special services must be received 48 hours prior to the meeting by calling the City Clerk’s Office at 509-942-7389.”
The Washington State Legislature amended the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) to specifically permit members of governing bodies to attend meetings by phone or other electronic means in real time. In 2017, an opinion from the Office of the Attorney General opened the door to remote participation, and according to City Manager Jon Amundson, remote participation was allowed in Richland before COVID.
The Dec. 20 meeting minutes list both Councilmember Jhoanna Jones and Councilmember Shayne VanDyke as attending remotely via Zoom. On one occasion, the meeting only had a quorum because VanDyke appeared remotely.
The state has also advised that agencies must also allow members of the public to comment remotely when feasible.
As usual the numbers after the items correspond to the page numbers in the packet.
1.Strategic Plan Stakeholder Engagement Outreach & Environmental scan presentation. As part of the strategic planning process, the city held a number of community information gathering sessions during 2022. Pg.3
2. New Hires
Public Hearing: The public has an opportunity to give 3 minutes of comments on public hearing items. There are no public hearings for this meeting.
Public Comments: The public has 2 minutes to comment on anything. If you have a question, ask the council to get back to you with an answer.
Consent Calendar: All the items here receive no discussion and one vote. Councilmembers can pull an item off the consent calendar for discussion and a separate vote, but they rarely do. Instead of sharing their questions with the public, they pose them behind the scenes via emails or questions to the city manager and staff. You can only see those by making a public record request.
3. Approval of the December 20, 2022, City Council Regular Meeting Minutes. Pg.4-12.
4. Adding Controlled Substances to Title 9: Crime of the Richland Municipal Code. The city will make possession of a controlled substance in public places which are listed in the title. Pg. 13-16
5. Adding a new section to the Richland Municipal Code on Compost Procurement. Pg. 17-30
6. Approving an increase in Richland City Councilmembers compensation. Pg. 31-34
The raises are for 2025 and 2026. A councilmembers current salary for the part-time job is $1253 a month. In 2026 it will be $1396 a month. Members also receive car allowances and health insurance, and dental and vision insurance and retirement benefits. With benefits Mayor Michael Alvarez’s yearly compensation was about $44,000 a year.
7. Amending the Richland Municipal Code related to Funds. The city updates its fund list every year, adding new funds and deleting old funds Pg. 35-51
8. Approving the final plat for Marcello Estates, Phase 2. Thirty-four single family lots will be created on 10.31 acres in an area southwest of Keene Road. Pg. 52-82
9. Awarding about $437,000 to demolish the old motel at 515 George Washington Way. As mentioned above, a lot of details are omitted. An unknown consultant was paid an unknown amount of money to do survey of unknown hazardous materials and prepare bid documents which are not included. But we are told this, “sufficient funding is available to complete the Project…” The city received 11 bids and a contractor from Woodinville submitted the low bid. Five contractors from the Tri submitted bids but the city is not allowed by state law to give preference to local companies. Pg. 84-86
10. Awarding a bid to Pipe of Washington for the Horn Rapids Irrigation Booster Pump Station Project. Pg. 87-91
11. Awarding a bid to Pipe of Washington for the Area 400 Booster Pump Station Upgrades Project. Pg. 92-96
Items of Business:
12. Adopting the City of Richland’s 2023 Legislative Priorities. Pg. 97-99 and worth a read.
City Manager and City Council – blah, blah, blah