Randy’s Rundown: Richland City Council Dec.1 agenda explained

Perhaps to save the council from further embarrassing comments from Councilmember Bob Thompson, no COVID update appears on the agenda for the first time since March

If you want to comment on the hearing items go to the city agenda and follow the instructions.

Page numbers give below correspond to the page numbers of the packet items.

City Council Regular Meeting – 6:00 p.m.

Welcome and Roll Call

Pledge of Allegiance

Approval of Agenda: (Approved by Motion) 

Presentations:  Possibly to save itself from further embarrassing comments from Councilmember Bob Thompson, this council meeting will have no COVID update for the first time since March. At the last meeting Thompson said that it was a good thing that more people had COVID.

Public Hearing:  You can have 3 minutes to comment here.  Go to the agenda (link above) for instructions.

  1. Robert Zinsli wants the city to annex his 8.52 acres at 771 Shockley Road. The city will designate the zoning as low-density residential which allows primarily for residences but also for neighborhood amenities such as churches and restaurants. City staff assumes 24 units with 2.6 person per household (pg. 27). They have done a cost and benefit analysis that considers roads, fire department and police coverage but nothing about schools. According to Zillow, the owner tried to sell the property last year for $1.5 million.   Pg. 20-30

2. Greg Markel of Vantage Way properties asked that the city rezone his 177 acres in Horn Rapids from agricultural to medium density residential which allows for duplexes and possibly townhouses as well as single family housing. He wants the additional 123 acres rezoned from public facility to commercial. This amends the Comprehensive Plan to allow that.  In a telephone conversation earlier this year, I asked Markel if he felt that roads in the Horn Rapids area could handle the additional traffic.  He said he did and added, “I may be dead before there is development on this property.”

The City of Richland will rezone its own 30-acre property in the Horn Rapid area from industrial to commercial. Pg. 89-98

3. This Amends the Zoning Maps to reflect the changes that have been requested in the above items. Pg.99-105

Public Comments:  You have 2 minutes to talk about anything, unlike council members who can go on and on and on and on. No questions are allowed.

Consent Calendar:   The Council lumps everything into this category. The items receive little if any discussion and only one vote so that no one can be held accountable.

Minutes

4. The council will approve the almost worthless minutes of the last meeting. It reads like this, “Councilmembers shared thoughts.” If you want to know what was actually said and what actually happened in the meetings go to the tape on City View

Ordinances – First Reading

5. City Council votes itself a 1.3% raise. The raise will not take effect until 2024 after everyone who voted for it would be up for re-election. City-provided health insurance and other perks more than double the compensation that some city councilmembers make.  Bob Thompson tops the list with about $37,000 in compensation in 2019.  Pg. 16-19

6. See Item 1 under Public Hearing

Ordinances – Second Reading & Passage

7. This explains year-end budget reconciliation.  Money is moved around to make it all balance out in the end.  For instance, a police crime van was budgeted in the general fund for $275,000 but state and federal grants paid for it.That $275,000 can be used to cover a shortage somewhere else. At the last council meeting the city manager announced that $500,000 had been found in the budget to use for building a new the animal shelter.  Pg. 31-34.

Resolutions – Adoptions

8. The Richland Police Department has received a $45,000 grant from federal and state funding for investigation and prosecution of internet crimes against children. The funds will help cover the costs of forensic hardware and software. Pg. 31-39

9. David Pandzhakidze owner of D&I Investments LLC wants to purchase 10 acres of the city’s property in the Horn Rapids Industrial Park for $400,000. The city has a repurchase right if a building plan is not submitted within 8 months of closing and if building has not begun in 18 months. Pandzhakidze writes to the city council that he already has his first client, Avallax LLC, that will lease at least a 6000 square foot building and bring two good paying jobs.  Avallax LLC also belongs to Pandzhakidze. Pg. 40-57

10. This will extend the city’s contract with DGR Grant Construction in the amount of $119,278 for design and construction assistance for the two new fire stations, also known as “Public Safety Response Stations nos. 73&75.” Page 58-72.

Items – Approval

Nothing

Expenditures – Approval

Nothing

Items of Business

11. This proposed revision of the Richland Municipal Code would allow the city council to appoint a replacement for the city manager while they look to permanently fill the position when a city manager is absent for 60 days due to illness, disability or any other reason. Reents recommended increasing the current 14-day limit. When the councilmembers discussed this at the last meeting, Reents assured them that she felt fine and was not sick.

The code will also be amended to allow the city manager to pick an assistant city manager.  The city hired Reents as assistant city manager in 2003.

12. See Item 2 under Public Hearing

13. See Item 3 under Public Hearing

Reports and Comments

Blah, blah, blah, curse, curse, curse.

Executive Session

A secret meeting to discuss lawsuits.

Tension at Richland City Hall over hiring a consultant for review of City Manager

Cindy Reents at recent Zoom city council meeting

Nov. 8

The Richland City Council in the past evaluated its city manager during closed executive sessions with no outside assistance. Now the council is using a consultant to aid the process, and the new procedure has created tension at city hall.  

City Manager Cindy Reents’ contract requires a yearly council review. She was hired as city manager in December 2007 with a $131,000 yearly salary plus benefits. Since then, she has received a 2 to 3 percent salary increase each year as well as thousands of dollars in incentives. Her current salary is around $200,000. 

At the Oct. 6 council meeting Mayor Ryan Lukson reported that a committee that included him and Councilmembers Michael Alvarez and Sandra Kent had interviewed a Georgia “professional facilitator” who they did not believe fit their needs.  

Lukson said that since it might be a conflict for Reents to help pick a consultant, Assistant City Manager Jon Amundson would direct the process for identifying new candidates for the job of consultant. 

Later in the meeting Reents replied, “I will make sure we put staff resources towards that, but I want the authority for the task myself.”

During his comments Councilmember Terry Christensen responded, “Cindy doesn’t select the person.” He did agree that Reents could pick candidates that the Lukson committee could interview.

Despite the tense words at the Oct. 6 meeting, the city council expanded the city manager’s authority at the Nov. 3 meeting. 

The council removed the job description of assistant city manager from the city code. Now the city manager will pick an assistant city manager and assign them to tasks as needed. 

Newly appointed Councilmember Marianne Boring has an unusual situation. When she evaluates the city manager, she will be judging her husband’s boss. Michael Boring works in the Richland Development Office.   

In an email to the Observer, Boring said that she does not believe that she has a conflict.

Reents joined the staff at city hall as assistant city manager in 2003 when her name was Cindy Johnson. In 2007, she became city manager. She had previously worked in various city departments in Ridgecrest, California.

Reents, 57, grew up in Trona, California, near Ridgecrest. She received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in business administration from California Coastal University, a pioneer in distance learning. 

Cindy Johnson became Cindy Reents in 2015 after she married Dean Reents, a Richland fire department captain who is now retired.

Several citizens have questioned whether Reents has violated the residency requirement in the Richland City Charter.  Section 4.01 of the charter reads: “The manager need not be a resident of the state when appointed but during the tenure of office he [note below] shall reside within the city.”

Questions arose because the only home listed in the Benton County property records for Reents or her husband is in the city of West Richland.

When asked if she lived in Richland, Reents declined to comment.

She did respond, “I am very proud of my humble beginnings, the sacrifices made and how hard I worked to get where I am today. It was not easy nor was it quick but with perseverance and support from my family I have accomplished quite a bit.”

Note: Authors of the city charter obviously did not expect a woman to become city manager.

Randy’s Notes: a rundown on the Nov. 3 Richland City Council agenda

Budget and Taxes

If you want to comment on the hearings or during the public comment period, go to the city agenda and follow the instructions.

Page numbers given below correspond to the page numbers of the packet items.

Secret Executive Session – 5:45 p.m

  1. During this closed session, expected to last for 15 minutes, Council will discuss union contracts and/or negotiations.

City Council Regular Meeting – 6:00 p.m.

Welcome and Roll Call

Pledge of Allegiance

Approval of Agenda: (Approved by Motion)

Presentations

2. Covid-19 Update, Cindy Reents, City Manager.  Pg. 6

Public Hearing:  You can have 3 minutes to comment here.  Go to the agenda (link above) for instructions.

3. Proposed 2021 budget and 2021-2026 Capital Improvement Plan.  The budget proposal is online.    Pg. 7

4. Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Southeast Washington telecommunicators Guild. The contract is provided on Pg. 177-211.

5. Collective Bargaining Agreement with the International Union of Operating Engineers. Their contract is provided on Pg. 211-266

Public Comments:  You have 2 minutes to talk about anything, but questions are not allowed. The city attorney reads the rules and the penalties for citizen misbehavior, like clapping, which seem even more ridiculous now that citizens attend the meetings remotely.

Consent Calendar:   The Council lumps everything into this category. The items receive little if any discussion and only one vote so that no one can be held accountable.

Minutes

6. Approval of the Oct. 20 council meeting minutes and the Oct. 27 council workshop minutes. These tell you next to nothing. Pg. 10-21   If you’re really interested in what happened, go to City View and watch the tapes

Ordinances – First Reading

7. Approving the 2021 Budget and the 2021-2026 Capital Improvement Plan. In case you have forgotten already, this was the first public hearing. Pg. 22-25

8. Amending Chapter 2.04 of the Richland Municipal Code. This is mostly a cleanup.  It makes all of the descriptions of the city manager gender neutral. It changes the names of several city committees and departments to reflect their current responsibilities.  For instance, Parks and Recreation becomes Parks and Public Facilities. The job of the assistant city manager has been amended. Pg. 26-41

Ordinances – Second Reading & Passage

9. Increasing funding for fire department radios, stormwater facility maintenance, wastewater plant improvements and industrial development. Pg. 42-45

10, Potable water cannot be used for irrigation where non-potable water is available. A violation could result in your potable water service being discontinued. Pg.46-50

11. If you own a $300,000 house, your taxes will go up by $7.  The rest of the numbers are on Pg. 54.

12. More on Taxes   Pg. 51-60

13. More on Taxes   Pg. 51-60

14. You’re not allowed to discharge a firearm in the city unless it’s at the airport and you’re shooting at animals that could crash an airplane. But according to the airport officials, shooting is the last resort. Pg. 61-63

15. If you want to repair your sidewalk and you fill out enough paperwork, the city will reimburse 25% of the costs.  If you don’t clear your sidewalk of snow, you could be in trouble.  Check the rules. Pg. 64-67

16. The definition of a potentially dangerous animal is amended to include an animal endangering someone “on the private property of another.” As written, the same behavior on public property would warrant declaring the animal as potentially dangerous, but no protections are afforded for the same conduct on the private property of another. Pg. 68-73

17. There’s a deficiency in the definition of Second Degree Criminal Trespass. This remedies that by defining “premises” as “any real property (fenced or unfenced), vehicle, railway car, cargo container, or other similar structure.” This definition will eliminate ambiguity between second degree criminal trespass and first degree criminal trespass, which provides that it is unlawful for any person to knowingly enter or remain, unlawfully, in a building of another Pg. 73-75

18. The lodging tax charged to hotel guests and used for tourism promotion in the Tri-Cities will be increased from $2.00 to $3.00 a night. Pg. 76-78

Resolutions – Adoptions

19. Commonstreet Consulting, LLC,  will be hired to help the city staff acquire the right-of-way for three projects — Among these are Center Parkway, the Vantage Highway Path – Phase 2, South George Washington Way Intersection Improvements, Van Giesen/Thayer Intersection Improvements, and Gage Boulevard Improvements. Pg 79-136

20. Approving the 2021 Tri-City Regional Hotel-Motel Commission budget and marketing plan. Everything you wanted to know about tourism in the Tri-Cities.  Pg. 137-166.

21. More about raising the lodging tax. Pg. 167-172

22. Updating council assignments. New Councilmember Marianne Boring will have Brad Anderson’s assignments. Welcome to the Mosquito Control Board Councilmember Boring! Councilmember Terry Christensen wanted Brad’s assignment to the Lodging Tax Board. The council voted to grant him his wish with the proviso that he recuses himself for matters involving softball. In the past Christensen has been in hot water for lobbying for his favorite sport.

23. Approving the 2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Southeast Washington Telecommunicators Guild. This was the subject of the earlier public hearing.  The contract is on pg. 177-211.

24. Approving the 2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement with the International Union of Operating Engineers. This was the subject of the earlier public hearing. The contract is on pg. 211-266

25. Adopting the City of Richland’s 2021 legislative priorities. The City is leading a regional effort to improve SR240 with an Aaron Drive flyover exchange, estimated to cost $30 million. The second requested improvement is the SR240 / SR224 / Van Giesen Street Interchange, estimated to cost $45 million. Other projects include police training, environmental improvements to the area around Bateman Island, and funding for LED lights for city streets. Pg. 267-270

26. Adopting the City of Richland street light standards. The city wants to switch to LED lights. The policy for street lighting is included in these pages. Pg. 271-283 

27. Authorizing a grant agreement with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission for Pedestrian Safety Funding. Plenty of information here about the contract and funding but nothing about what the police actually plan to do about pedestrian safety.  Pg. 284-289

28. Authorizing the 5-year renewal agreement for the promotion of tourism with the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau. The City agrees to pay the Bureau fifty percent of the annual average hotel/motel tax receipts of the City collected from the first two percent levied for the five-year period immediately preceding each year of the contract period.   See Pg. 290-295

Items – Approval

Expenditures – Approval

Items of Business

Authorizing a funding agreement with Benton country for the Center Parkway North – Gage to Tapteal Project. The proposed agreement will secure $1,240,000 from the Benton County Rural County Capital Fund for this project.  Pg 296 – 304

Reports and Comments

City Manager, City Councilmembers, Mayor 

blah, blah, blah

Secret Executive Session

Yes, another one. This time the council will discuss lawsuits

Adjournment

If you want to stick around until after this secret meeting, Mayor Ryan Lukson will come out and say “meeting adjourned”. 

Randy’s Notes: a rundown on Tuesday’s Richland City Council agenda

New taxes and a new animal shelter

A discussion about the proposed new Tri-Cities Animal Shelter will begin the Richland City Council meeting at 5:00 p.m. on October 20. Note the earlier starting time. Before the coronavirus, supporters for a new shelter packed the council chamber. Information on how to watch the meeting and how to comment are at the top of the agenda. 

Page numbers after the items below correspond with the pages in the packet of information that goes with the agenda.

City Council Workshop:

  1. At 5:00 p.m. City Manager Cindy Reents will update the City Council with options for a new animal shelter. Pg. 5-21 Comments can be made during the public comment period.

City Council Regular Meeting – 6:00 p.m.

Welcome

Pledge of Allegiance

Approval of Agenda

Presentations

2. Extra Mile Day recognizes people and organizations that make positive change. Pg. 22-23

3. COVID-19 Update from City Manager Cindy Reents  pg.24

Public Hearing  Check the agenda for the instructions on how to comment for up to 3 minutes.

4. A proposal to increase the budget appropriation for new fire department radios, stormwater improvements in several locations, an emergency generator at the wastewater treatment plant and last but not least $560,000 to repurchase property from Energy Northwest will be discussed and comments heard. Pg. 36-40

5. Council will hear comments about the proposal to raise property taxes by 1%.  Pg. 45-54

6. If this proposal for a city surplus sale is approved, you can buy anything from a pickup truck to a front loader.  Pg. 144-148

Public Comments  Check the agenda for how you can have 2 minutes to comment.

Consent Calendar  These items receive little to no comment and one vote for all of them.

Minutes

7. Approval of the October 6, 2020 meeting minutes

Ordinances – First Reading

8. Increasing funding for fire department radios, stormwater facility maintenance, wastewater plant improvements and industrial development. This was discussed in the earlier public hearing, Item 4. Pg. 36-40

9. Potable water cannot be used for irrigation where non-potable water is available. A violation could result in your potable water service being discontinued.  Pg. 40-44

10. Property Taxes  to be increased by 1%.  Pg. 45-54

11. Property Taxes  Pg. 45-54

12. Property Taxes  Pg. 45-54

13. You’re not allowed to discharge a firearm in the city unless it’s at the airport and you’re shooting at animals that could crash an airplane.  But according to the airport officials, shooting is the last resort.  Pg. 55-58

14. If you want to repair your sidewalk and you fill out enough paperwork, the city will reimburse 25% of the costs.  If you don’t clear your sidewalk of snow, you could be in trouble.  Check the rules. Pg. 58-61

15. The definition of a potentially dangerous animal is amended to include an animal endangering someone “on the private property of another.” As written, the same behavior on public property would warrant declaring the animal as potentially dangerous, but no protections are afforded for the same conduct on the private property of another.  Pg. 62-66

16. There’s a deficiency in the definition of Second Degree Criminal Trespass. This remedies that by defining “premises” as “any real property (fenced or unfenced), vehicle, railway car, cargo container, or other similar structure.” This definition will eliminate ambiguity between second degree criminal trespass and first degree criminal trespass, which provides that it is unlawful for any person to knowingly enter or remain, unlawfully, in a building of another.  Pg. 67-69

17. The lodging tax charged to hotel guests and used for tourism promotion in the Tri-Cities will be increased from $2.00 to $3.00 a night. Pg. 70-72

Ordinances – Second Reading & Passage

18. This authorizes a franchise agreement with New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC d/b/a AT&T Mobility. It doesn’t give the company a monopoly and each project must be approved.  There was a hearing and the first reading during the October 6 meeting. Pg. 73-118

19. The unused right-of-way on Robertson Drive will be given to the adjacent property owner. This was the subject of a public hearing and first reading at the October 6 meeting. Pg. 119-123

20. Streets will now have classifications that match state and federal guidelines.  You might want to see where your street falls in these descriptions. Pg. 124-128

21. Zoning of 7.4 acres of the old motel site on Columbia Point Trail near the Steptoe roundabout will be changed from C-2 Retail Business to Limited Business (C-LB).  Pg. 129-143  

 Following are the definitions of the two designations;  

A. The limited business use district (C-LB) is a zone classification designed to provide an area for the location of buildings for professional and business offices, motels, hotels, and their associated accessory uses, and other compatible uses serving as an administrative district for the enhancement of the central business districts, with regulations to afford protection for developments in this and adjacent districts and in certain instances to provide a buffer zone between residential areas and other commercial and industrial districts. This zoning classification is intended to be applied to some portions of the city that are designated either commercial or high-density residential under the city of Richland comprehensive plan.

B. The neighborhood retail business use district (C-1) is a limited retail business zone classification for areas which primarily provide retail products and services for the convenience of nearby neighborhoods with minimal impact to the surrounding residential area. This zoning classification is intended to be applied to some portions of the city that are designated commercial under the city of Richland comprehensive plan. 

Resolutions – Adoption

22. You can buy a surplus truck from the city or a front loader.  Check out the list of available surplus here.  Pg. 144-148

23. The city will spend $664,172.52 for a metal clad switchgear for a new electrical substation to serve the Horn Rapids industrial area. Pg. 149-154

24. The police have received a $27, 500 grant for overtime pay from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission for a high visibility enforcement project.  High visibility enforcement (HVE) incorporates enforcement strategies, such as enhanced patrols using visibility elements (e.g. electronic message boards, road signs, command posts, BAT mobiles, etc.) designed to make enforcement efforts obvious to the public.  The grant goes from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021.  Pg. 155-175

Items – Approval

Expenditures – Approval

25. All the City expenditures from September 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021  for $33,279,719.14 are listed.   Pg. 175-225.

Items of Business

26. Council Assignments – The Mosquito Control Board will miss former Councilmember Brad Anderson but, alas, someone else will have to be our representative to that committee.  Now that Brad Anderson has resigned, the council assignments must be shifted around. Anderson’s other positions are now open as well.   Pg. 226-229

Reports and Comments

City Manager, City Council, Mayor – blah, blah, blah.

Executive Session

27. The council has a secret meeting for 30 minutes to discuss lawsuits.

Randy’s Notes: a rundown on Tuesday’s Richland City Council Agenda

Randy’s Picks:  Don’t miss No. 19, 21, 23, 24 and 25

Okay, folks Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. is the regularly scheduled Richland City Council meeting.  The information on how to watch the meeting and how to comment are at the top of the agenda.

Page numbers after the items below correspond with the pages in the packet of information that goes with the agenda.

1-2 The first item of business is the appointment and swearing in of Marianne Boring to the seat vacated by Brad Anderson. Pg. 5-8

3. Then, of course, Anderson must be thanked. Pg. 9-10

4. We can’t forget to thank David Larkin for serving on the Utility Advisory Committee since 2005 and Kim Shugart for serving on the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee since 2008, and Douglas Sako for serving on the Economic Development Committee since 2006.  Pg, 11-14.  Check out the Tri-Cities Observer for responses from Larkin and Sako about their service on these committees.

5. For more information about the Tri-Cities Regional Hotel-Motel Commission Annual Budget and Marketing Plan, we are instructed to look at Resolution 139-20.   If you find that Resolution, let me know.  Pg.15

6. The City Manager Cindy Reents presents her budget.  Be sure to check out pg. 16 for the schedule for public comment.  The budget has been discussed for weeks in “Special Workshops”.  Wait until you see the minutes for those that follow on the consent calendar.  The meetings are not available on video.  Again, Pg. 16

Public Hearings – you will receive 3 minutes to comment if you follow the rules on the agenda (the link is above).

7. The City is authorizing a non-exclusive agreement with New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC d/b/a AT&T Mobility to use city right-of-ways for small wireless facilities.  The company must apply for permits for each of its projects. Pg. 33-78

8. The city will turn over unused right-of-way on Robertson Drive to the adjacent property owners. According to the report, “the property owner concurs with this proposal.” The owner listed on the property map in the packet died in March. Pg. 70-83

9. The homeowner at 1375 Kensington Way wants part of the unused city utility easement for a shed. Pg. 113-116

10. The Port of Benton and Richland Storage Partners LLC want a city easement within their property at 2705 Fermi Drive to facilitate new development. Pg. 129-132

PUBLIC COMMENT – you get 2 minutes.  Go to the agenda for the rules

Consent Calendar   Everything under “Consent Calendar” receives little discussion and one vote.  A councilmember can ask to have an item removed for discussion and a separate vote.

11. Meeting minutes:  The city council had 3 workshop meetings and 1 regular meeting and 1 special meeting (to pick Boring) between Sept. 8 and September 25.  The three workshops were to discuss the budget and each of those lasted almost 2 hours.  Go see what passes as minutes in Richland.  No videos have been made available. The Observer reported on the police and fire department budget presentations.  Pg. 21-32

Ordinances – First Reading (this is part of the Consent Calendar that receives one vote)

12. The agreement with New Cingular Wireless that was subject of the public hearing. Pg. 33-78

13. The unused right-of-way on Robertson Drive to be given to the adjacent property owner which was subject of the earlier public hearing.   Pg. 70-83

14. Streets will now have classifications to match state and federal guidelines.  You might want to see where your street falls in these descriptions.  Pg. 84-88.

Ordinances – Second Reading & Passage

15. Under an agreement with the county prosecutor the city can prosecute these: cyberstalking, criminal mistreatment – fourth degree, unlawful possession of a legend drug (dispensed by prescription only). It also adds a civil infraction for purchase or consumption of liquor by an intoxicated person. Pg. 89-104

16. Driveways in Industrial Districts can be this wide:  a one-way driveway can be 40 feet; a two-way driveway can be 100 feet.  They cannot exceed 40% of the property frontage.

17. Oops, when the city raised the ambulance transport fees in 2012, it did not amend the code.  This fixes that.

Resolutions – Adoption

18. This was the subject of the earlier public hearing.  The homeowner at 1375 Kensington Way wants part of the unused city utility easement for a shed.

19. It’s time for the periodic Shoreline Master Program review.  Anybody interested in this issue needs to look at the dates for public comment on Pg. 122.   Pg. 117-122

20. This establishes Dec. 1 for the public hearing for comments on annexing 8 acres on Shockley Road, the Zinsli Annexation Petition.  Pg. 123-126.

21. The waiver for using city-owned property or right-of-way, sidewalks, etc for outdoor dining is extended until December 31, 2020.

22. Giving up the easement at 2705 Fermi Drive, subject of earlier hearing.

23. $700,000 is available for utility payment relief until used up or until November 30, 2020.

Items – Approval

24. Appointment of Brad Bricker and Michael Simpson  to the Board of Adjustment.  This is the committee that Marianne Boring served on for about 20 years.  Bricker has been on the Economic Development Committee since 2013 and is currently chair.  His term there was up on Sept. 30.  Simpson has served on the Personnel Committee since 2019.  Simpson’s term on Personnel doesn’t end until 2022.  According to the information provided in the packet, 2 other people were interviewed for each of these positions.  Rather than allow other residents to participate, the city has chosen once again to let people serve on more than one committee. Pg. 136-138

Expenditures – Approval

(as of Oct. 3 no expenditures listed here)

Items of Business

25. Rezoning 7.4 acres of the old motel site on Columbia Point Trail near the Steptoe roundabout from C-2 Retail Business to Limited Business (C-LB).  Pg. 139-153 Following are the definitions of the two;  

A. The limited business use district (C-LB) is a zone classification designed to provide an area for the location of buildings for professional and business offices, motels, hotels, and their associated accessory uses, and other compatible uses serving as an administrative district for the enhancement of the central business districts, with regulations to afford protection for developments in this and adjacent districts and in certain instances to provide a buffer zone between residential areas and other commercial and industrial districts. This zoning classification is intended to be applied to some portions of the city that are designated either commercial or high-density residential under the city of Richland comprehensive plan.

B. The neighborhood retail business use district (C-1) is a limited retail business zone classification for areas which primarily provide retail products and services for the convenience of nearby neighborhoods with minimal impact to the surrounding residential area. This zoning classification is intended to be applied to some portions of the city that are designated commercial under the city of Richland comprehensive plan.

26. Hiring a consultant to evaluate City Manager Cindy Reents.

Reports and Comments:

Blah, blah, blah from mayor, council and city manager

Executive Session

The council can discuss in secret  “Lease or Purchase of Real Estate if Disclosure Would Increase Price. “  They plan to discuss this for 15 minutes and you can continue to watch and time it if you want to.  Mayor Lukson has to come out and say that the meeting has ended.

Richland City Council appoints Marianne Boring to fill vacant seat

September 25, 2020

Richland City Council chose Marianne Boring from three finalists to fill the open seat left by the resignation of Brad Anderson. The three were chosen from 33 applicants for the position.

In her interview by Zoom on Friday morning, Boring said, “My goal for thirty years has been to serve on the council.”

Her appointment ends on January 4, 2022. Boring has indicated that she plans to run for a full term in the 2021 election. Since 1958 only one of 16 appointees failed to be elected after they were appointed.

The Council interviewed Boring, Maria Gutierrez and Theresa Richardson during a special city council meeting Friday. 

Mayor Ryan Lukson asked each of the women the same questions which included their vision for the city, what they wanted to accomplish on the council and whether they had any conflicts of interest.

The council adjourned into executive session to discuss the selection before publicly voting unanimously to choose Boring.

During her interview Boring emphasized her land use planning experience. She owns a development related business, Allwest Services. She has served on the Richland Planning Commission for 14 years and the Board of Adjustment for 19 years.

When term limits for board members were eliminated, Mayor Ryan Lukson said of the long-serving board members, “We use these people like staff to a certain extent.”

Boring said her vision for Richland included a vibrant downtown core with a mixed-use building of five or six floors at the site of the old city hall.  She described underground parking, ground level retail, second and third floor offices and several floors of residential units that would have nice views.

“We may have to wait for the right developer,” she said.

Boring mentioned that some downtown businesses do not take advantage of grants and other services that the city provides.  She would like to encourage them to apply for these. 

“I favor smart growth so people can live, work and play in the same area,” she told the council.   She pointed to the Badger Mountain South development as an example of that.  “Your ice cream shouldn’t melt between the store and your home,” she said.

To the question as to whether she had any conflicts of interest, Boring stated that her husband works for the city.  “I would not jeopardize his position or my position,” she said.  “I would recuse after talking to my fellow councilmembers if I felt there was a conflict,” she added.

Councilmember Bob Thompson asked Boring how she felt about the council becoming involved in social issues.

Boring responded, “I support small community meetings, pinpointed to certain areas, to listen.”

Councilmember Phil Lemley congratulated Boring and added, “She has to run next year and it’s not easy.”

Councilmember Terry Christensen said, “My Congratulations to Marianne. It is nice to see her rewarded for her 20 years of contribution to the city.” 

Boring will be sworn in at the October 6 city council meeting.

Watch Richland City Council interview three applicants for open seat, appointee almost guaranteed election in 2021

September 23, 2020.

Sept 24 update: the city has published the agenda and Zoom link for the interviews.

Sept 25 correction: the Richland City Council appointed Ed Revell to an open seat a second time in August 2015.  He chose not to run in the November election.

The public can watch the Richland City Council interview Marianne Boring, Maria Gutierrez and Theresa Richardson for the council open seat Friday at 8:30 a.m. via Zoom.

The council selected the three women from 33 applicants for the vacancy created by the resignation of Brad Anderson. According to Mayor Ryan Lukson, the council will announce their decision by the October 6 council meeting.

The Richland City Council has appointed 18 people to fill open seats since the city was incorporated in 1958. Of the 16 who chose to seek a full term, only one failed to be elected.

Boring and Gutierrez have said that they would run for the seat in 2021 if the council appointed them.

Based on the city’s history, the new appointee would almost certainly be elected.

The Observer obtained Richland election records from a resident who submitted a public record request. Amanda Hatfield, manager of the Benton County Election Office, also provided the Observer with information about council election results.

Only Larna Brown lost her bid for a full term. Rita Mazur defeated her in the 1995 election.  Brown had replaced Doreen Strawick who died in office May 1995.

Two appointees did not seek election.

According to Richland records, Bertrand Field chose not to run for election “due to public disclosure law #276.”

The law, which passed in 1972, requires that elected officials and candidates report campaign contributions and expenditures and disclose financial interests. Field was appointed in March 1972 and resigned in December 1973.

The council appointed Ed Revell a second time in August 2015. He chose not to run in the November election.

The following people have been appointed to the Council in order of the dates of their appointment: Harold Morgan (April 1964), Arden L. Bement, Jr. (September 1968), Shirley Fransen (July 1970), Bertrand Field (March 1972), Bud Knore (March 1974), Madge Watson (December 1974), Shirley Widrig (November 1976), John Poytner (August 1978), James Becton (April 1979), Betty Sherman (January 1981), Jerry Greenfield (December 1990), Larna Brown (June 1995), Carol Moser (July 1995), John Fox (September 2002),  David Rose (December 2004), Ed Revell (February 2006), Sandra Kent (February 2008), Ed Revell (August 2015).

Richland Police Chief asks Council for Three More Officers, Says Eighty Percent of Calls have a Mental Health Aspect

September 22, 2020

At the Sept 8 budget meeting, Richland Police Chief John Bruce told the Richland City Council that he would like to add three more officers to his department.  The city currently budgets for 65.

But Mayor Ryan Lukson had another question — “Why wouldn’t you add more mental health training?” 

The concern stemmed from another fact Bruce laid out. Eighty percent of calls to Richland police involve a mental health aspect, the chief said.

Bruce told the council that the department already provides de-escalation and mental health training for its officers. 

What the department needs, he said, are more bodies. Having more officers per shift means more time to respond to an incident, knowing backup is close by.

“Officers need time to just slow down,” Bruce said. “Officers who rush in may have a deadly force incident. Wait for your back up. Survey the scene. Re-evaluate the decision.”

Bruce also said that he would like officers to be able to allocate 40 percent of their time in the community visiting businesses, schools and Parent Teacher Associations.

The department has mental health crisis workers who ride along with officers, Bruce said. Lourdes Outpatient Services has a grant for more than $1 million that provides these professionals to Tri-Cities police departments.

The Observer talked to Richland Police Capt. Chris Lee and Director of Lourdes’ Outpatient Services Cameron Fordmeir, who administers the grant.

Lee said each jurisdiction has a mobile outreach team that includes a mental outreach professional called a “designated crisis responder.” That person decides whether someone poses enough of danger to themselves or others that they require 72-hour detention for drug abuse or psychiatric evaluation.

The team may also include a mental outreach counselor who provides contacts for follow-up support services or counseling, and peer specialists who work behind the scenes to make sure the paperwork doesn’t fall between the cracks.

“Sometimes the Richland police drive their team member to other jurisdictions which need them,” Lee said. 

Fordmeir added that the program currently has six designated crisis responders, two mental outreach counselors and three peer specialists to cover all of Benton and Franklin counties.

“Since the program began in 2018, the teams have had 4,163 contacts and 87 psychiatric hospitalizations,” Fordmeir said.

The current grant expires June 2021. Fordmeir plans to reapply for the grant as well as look for funding from the cities and other sources so that the program can continue.

Richland Medics Want to Get You to the Hospital With More Than a Heartbeat

At the Sept. 8 Richland budget workshop, Richland Fire Chief Tom Huntington outlined how the Richland Fire and Emergency Services Department works with the community to deliver patients to Kadlec’s Level 1 cardiac unit with more than just a heartbeat.

Huntington also said that his department had not asked for new funding increases except to accommodate growth.  A fire station planned for the corner of Battelle Boulevard and Port of Benton Boulevard will accommodate new development in northeast Richland.

The department has improved what has sometimes been described as the “scoop and run” method for treating cardiac and trauma victims. While medics still rush to deliver patients to hospitals, they use the latest equipment and training to increase survival.

The department, Huntington said, starts by training people to do heart compressions until medics arrive. Participants learn to first call 911 and immediately begin quick, vigorous compressions. The puffs from the old Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) method have been eliminated.

In a telephone interview with the Observer, Huntington provided more details. “With our new community approach and technology, we can maintain a heartbeat that is consistent enough to maintain blood flow to the body and set the hospital up for success,” he said.

Richland’s five ambulances now have robots that provide heart compressions and field ventilators to help patients breathe. That frees up the medics to follow the monitors and communicate with doctors at the hospital emergency room.

According to Huntington, Richland leads the area in adopting the new methods. “We’re on the front edge,” he said. 

Lt. Mike Van Beek, who keeps some of the statistics for the department, told the Observer that last year medics saved 14 lives and improved their outcome from the previous year.

Huntington explained that medics have two years of training that includes classes, ambulance calls with more experienced medics and monthly meetings with Dr. Kevin Hodges medical program director for Benton-Franklin counties.

The department has about 38 medics for the four fire stations.  Usually each station has a medic 24-hours a day.

Richland City Council to Interview Three Women for Open Seat

Mayor Ryan Lukson emerged from a one-hour executive session of the Richland City Council to announce that three women would be interviewed to fill Councilmember Brad Anderson’s seat.

Anderson resigned on August 18 stating that health issues required lifestyle changes that were not possible while holding down a full-time job plus serving on the Council.  

The council will interview the following women:

Marianne Boring, the spouse of a staff member of the City of Richland Development Office has served longer on Richland Boards and Commissions than any other current member. When her terms are up, she will have been on the Planning Commission for 18 years and the Board of Adjustment for 20 years. She chairs the Board of Adjustment.

When the Council voted to end term limits for boards and commissions on September 1, Lukson said, “We use these people like employees to a certain extent.”

Maria Gutierrez has served on the Parks and Recreation Commission since 2007.  She currently chairs that committee.

Theresa Richardson retired as director of Habitat for Humanity.

Lukson said that the Council planned to pick someone before their October 6 meeting.

Randy’s Notes: the Rundown on Tuesday’s Richland City Council Agenda

(Disclosure: Randy Slovic, author of TriCities Observer, has applied to fill former Councilmember Brad Anderson’s seat on the Richland City Council.)

Here is the Richland City Council Agenda for September 15, 2020

The 157-page packet of information that I have summarized below.

If you want to comment, you need to click the yellow “here” on the agenda before 4:00 p.m. on September 15.

  1. City Manager Cindy Reents fills you in on COVID

PUBLIC HEARING if you clicked the yellow “here” as mentioned above before 4:00 p.m., you can comment for 3 minutes on this:

2.  The developers of Park Place Apartments at 650 George Washington Way moved the utilities and wants the city to give them the now unused utility easement for $10.

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD if you clicked the yellow “here” and submitted your request before 4:00 p.m.  you have 2 minutes to say whatever you want.  However, be warned, you are NOT allowed to ask a question.

CONSENT CALENDAR – this means the council can go through these with little to no comment and vote for them all at once.

Approval of the September 1, 2020 City Council Regular Meeting Minutes

First Reading on these so they have to be voted on again at the next meeting in order to pass:

Ordinance 29-20   The City can exercise more control over misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors rather than refer them to the Benton County Prosecutor if the council amends the code to include:  cyberstalking, criminal mistreatment of children or dependent persons, unlawful possession of prescription drugs (legend drugs), purchase and consumption of alcohol by an intoxicated person.

Ordinance 30-20   Allowing industrial driveways to be 40 feet for one way and 100 feet for two ways.

Ordinance 31-20   Oops, the city did not amend the municipal code in 2012 when they raised the ambulance rates.  They will fix that with this.

Second Reading on these so they pass with this vote:

  1. Ordinance 27-20  The Richland police department receives $275,250 from the Seattle Police Department for a forensic van.  Seattle is the lead agency for the state and funding is for investigation and prosecution of internet crimes against children.
  2. Ordinance 28-20 You will need a permit to work in city Right-of-Ways.

Resolutions – Adoptions

  1. Resolution 124-20   the easement at 650 George Washington Way discussed above in No. 2 is here for a vote.
  2. Resolution 131-20   It will cost $4 million to extend the city sewer to North Horn Rapids.  To  pay for it, the City will receive $3.2 million dollars from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the U.S. Covid Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  The Port of Benton will provide $400,000 and the City of Richland will provide $400,000.  City funding was budgeted in the Industrial Development Fund.
  3. Resolution 132-20   Visit Tri-Cities Signage.  Booth and Sons submitted the lowest bid for the signs, $452,888.66
  4.  Resolution 133-20   Maintenance agreement with Friends of Badger Mountain for extending the trail system onto Little Badger Mountain.

Items Approval:

  1. Appointing Steve Lorence to the Personnel Committee until 2023.  He has been on the committee since 2018
  2. Appointing Brad Bricker, Ken Spencer, Theresa Richardson, and Kim Knight to the Economic Development Committee until 2023.  Bricker has served since 2013.
  3. Appointing Lindsay Lightner to the Library Board until 2025.  Lightner has served since 2019.
  4. Appointing Deborah Titus and Michele Levenite to the Americans with Disability Citizen Review Committee until 2023. Levenite has served since 2014.
  5. Appointing Lara Watkins and Andrew Lucero-Montano to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee until 2022.  Lucero-Montano has serviced on the committee since 2018.

Expenditures – Approval

  1. $28,384,167.33 of checks for the month of August for salaries, pensions and other expenditures. The check list goes from page 90 to 132 in the packet.

ITEMS OF BUSINESS

  1. Ordinance no 21-20 to restrict parking on Hains Avenue to one side of the street.  The Council will vote on this ordinance since it is not on the consent calendar.

Councilmembers will now comment

EXECUTIVE (SECRET) SESSION

20 minutes to discuss potential litigation

60 minutes to discuss the qualifications of a candidate for appointment to elective office [60 minutes for “a” candidate out of 33 who applied].

Term Limits for Richland Boards and Commissions Eliminated after Councilmember Sandra Kent Reconsiders

(Disclosure: Randy Slovic, author of TriCities Observer, has applied to fill former Councilmember Brad Anderson’s seat on the Richland City Council.)

An unusual set of circumstances resurrected for the fourth time a motion to eliminate term limits for members of Richland boards and commissions, and this time it passed.

Last month, when the council considered the motion for the third time, city attorney Heather Kintzley explained that the city charter required that a majority of the council, not just a majority of those present, had to vote for approval of the term-limit change. Only four council members out of six were present at the Aug. 18 council meeting, so the vote failed when only Councilmember Sandra Kent voted no.

For the motion to be brought up again, the side that prevailed — in this unusual case, just Kent — had to move to reconsider it. 

That meant Kent had the power to table the motion when it came under consideration last week for the fourth time. She did not.

Kent said Sept. 1 that she was offering the motion to reconsider “for transparency and to give all the members a chance to vote on the measure.” Her motion to reconsider passed 6-0.

On the next vote, which was to eliminate the term limits, Kent again voted no saying that “council could re-appoint a person ad infinitum.”

Councilmember Terry Christensen supported the change. “Council shouldn’t have their hands tied,” he said.

Mayor Ryan Lukson agreed with Christensen. “Every once in a while, a unicorn comes in,” he said. “But very rarely does someone want to serve longer than 16 years. We use these people like employees to a certain extent.”

The final vote was 5- 1, with Kent voting no again. Five of 70 people who currently serve on the Richland Boards and Commissions have been appointed for at least 14 years.