Port Orchard’s City Council has a plan to fast-track the selection process for a new council member to assume current Councilman Rob Putaansuu’s seat.
But just when that new councilperson is to be appointed remains unclear.
Council members agreed at their meeting Dec. 8 to follow a timeframe suggested by council member Bek Ashby to advertise the open position immediately in area newspapers and on the city website. She said the issues that members now face are too important not to have a full council.
Ashby proposed that candidates interested in the Position 3 council seat should send letters of interest to City Hall by Jan. 4. She also advocated for candidate interviews on Jan. 7, perhaps followed by a second round with finalists the following week. The council’s selection then would be voted on at its Jan. 12 meeting and be sworn in Jan. 19.
As proposed by Ashby, candidates will be asked to include a letter of interest that would include a list of skills they’d bring to the council. Candidates also would include a resume, a description of the individual’s community involvement and their view of the issues the city is to face in 2016.
Some council members said they were concerned the tight timeframe and the press of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays would discourage some potential candidates from seeking the seat.
The council sought clarification from City Clerk Brandy Rinearson about the state’s revised code stipulations regarding qualifications that potential candidates must meet before they can be considered for office. According to the state’s code, a candidate in a second-class-rated city is only required to be a registered voter.
The council voted in favor of an ordinance adopting the city’s 2016 budget. Council member Jerry Childs was the sole vote against adoption of the ordinance because of his concerns about a lack of oversight of the budget and city staff salaries.
The budget allows expenditures for fiscal year 2016 of $44.925 million. The council’s Finance Committee met earlier independently to study the proposed budget, held budget interviews with city department heads and sought City Council input, according to the agenda staff report. A final public hearing also was conducted Dec. 7.
Of that budget amount, slightly more than $11 million is allocated for water and sewer utilities, and $3.8 million for law enforcement, special investigations and criminal justice. Operating funds total $28 million. The city has budgeted $7.6 million for capital projects, including money for water and public recreation projects.
Transportation Benefit District
Following lengthy deliberation, the City Council agreed to an ordinance establishing a Transportation Benefit District, or TBD. Prior to its vote, the council also conducted a public hearing on whether a TBD should be established in Port Orchard. That entity would be used to generate additional funding for transportation project shortfalls.
During the public comment period, Port Orchard resident Elissa Whittleton said she felt a TBD plan is being rushed through without proper public input. “There needs to be more public outreach,” citizen which she said would lessen citizen “upset” about future transportation planning.
Council member Fred Chang earlier expressed concern about how the taxing mechanism would be approved — either through council agreement or a public vote. Public Works director Dorsey said, however, the resolution before the Council Tuesday night “pertains to establishing a framework, not establishing a funding mechanism.”
Also: The City Council tabled a motion approving a contract with WEBQA, Inc., to provide software that would streamline the City Clerk’s current process in fulfilling public records requests, as required by the federal government’s Freedom of Information Act.
The software program is a tool for staff to track and manage requests by delegating them to appropriate departments for handling and fulfillment, according to the City Clerk’s office.
Subscription costs for the software, which includes a one-time set-up fee of $1,500, is $4,500 yearly.
Rinearson stated in the agency staff report that the software tool would be used to reduce staff time and costs when responding to FOIA requests.
She said her office so far this year has received 249 public-records requests — 115 directed to the city police department and 134 to other city departments.
Rinearson also told the Council that city clerks from Pullman, Port Angeles, Kirkland and Olympia have all endorsed the software program and found it to be an effective, streamlined tool.
Council members, however, questioned wording in the contract offered by WEBQA, Inc., which has been characterized as being unfavorable to the city. The council requested that the contract issue be sent back to the city’s Finance Committee for additional clarification.
Swearing in ceremony
City Hall announced Wednesday that newly elected Port Orchard City Council members will be sworn in at a ceremony at 5 p.m. Dec. 29.
The ceremony will take place in the City Hall council chambers.City Council on fast track