The Enumclaw City Council's passage Monday night of a resolution in support of the Puyallup Tribe's plan to relocate a section of Boise Creek that runs through the Enumclaw Golf Course could be the first step in ameliorating golfers' concerns that the property wasn't being maintained properly.
The resolution, which passed 7-0, was more of a formalization of support for the tribe's restoration project rather than a call for action on the part of the city, public works director Chris Searcy clarified.
The project is spearheaded through the Puyallup Tribe's fisheries department with the intent on restoring and enhancing salmon habitat, Searcy said. Planning began during the previous administration and was the highest ranking project for the Puyallup River Watershed.
In support of the tribe, the city met with representatives of both the Enumclaw Men's Club and Enumclaw Ladies Golf Club, as well as the Enumclaw High School golf team, Searcy said. Their feedback on course improvement was resounding: better drainage.
Gravel accumulates in the stream bed, Searcy said, and in some parts of the course, the water level is actually above the fairway adjacent to it.
Brandon Chevalier, speaking on behalf of the Men's Club, described to Council Monday playing in "ankle deep mud and water" as he implored the city to do more to maintain the course which has been in the community for more than 80 years.
City staff sees the tribe's creek project as "probably the best long-term opportunity the course has to improve drainage without dipping into a lot of money on the city's behalf," Searcy said. It would contain the flood plain and eliminate overbank flows while improving the playability of the course.
From the salmon habitat perspective, "flooded fairways are not good for golfers or fish," he said.
The tribe is looking at a tab of $967,000 just for construction, said Searcy, which includes some mitigation work for impacts to the course. It is also looking for grants and other funding revenues to support the project.
Following Searcy's clarification that the resolution was purely a show of support from the landowner, councilman Sean Krebs added that there was plenty of time for community input but "I do find this a significant project."
Chevalier's description of the poor management of the course was "disturbing to hear" but he wasn't surprised, Krebs said, referring the subject to the Council's community services committee for further review. The creek restoration project, from his understanding, would add year-round playability for the course and was a project that the city could never accomplish independently, he said. "I'm looking forward to supporting this," Krebs said.
Searcy said prior to construction but following a completion of design, the city would develop the agreements that would better define the project details.
Most work would be accomplished in the February through May time frame with minimal work done mid-July and August, he said.
In Other News:
Equal Opportunity: Council also passed what Councilman Glen Jensen described as "a housekeeping measure" clarifying the city's gender equity policy concerning parks and recreation opportunities that are open to the public. Scheduling of facilities, funding and other support will all be gender-neutral according to the resolution. "It won't affect the way we operate our programs now," said community development director Erika Shook. "We already do this."
Police Position Thawing: Council heard the first reading of an ordinance specifying three amendments to the 2012 budget, which includes $93,724 out of the general fund toward staffing a police officer position that's been frozen since 2004. Recent presentations from Enumclaw police leadership indicate there is a pressing need for the additional position to be filled (). The amendment also pulls $10,000 over into the general fund that is a carry-over from last year, which was earmarked for economic development. There is also $12,000 to be pulled from the cemetery endowment fund to replace a roof at the cemetery office building. There was no action as it was a first reading.
Clearing up Library Questions: Councilman Darrel Dickson clarified for the community several questions that lingered on voters' minds:
If annexation were approved, who would own the library building? City attorney Mike Reynolds answered that it would be King County Library System that would own the building while the city owns the real estate the building sits on. Mayor Liz Reynolds also clarified that if KCLS stops using the building as a library, it goes back to city ownership, per the transfer agreement.
What will the money that's now paying for the library be used for, if annexation is approved? City administrator Mike Thomas said that though the library was historically funded out of the city's general fund, it was supported by a one-time fund this year. So in 2012, in fact no money from the general fund went to the library. "There are no monies freed up," Thomas said. And council has said that if annexation were approved, it would not be rolling back city taxes to mitigate the property tax increase for city residents.
Will the city's taxing capability be reduced if annexation were approved? Will the city be a junior taxing district to KCLS? "We are junior to their taxing authority," Thomas said, but the question of taxation is complex. The city, fire distrct and potential library district all have to interplay and live under a cap. The fire district has a $1.50 per $1,000 assessed value cap while the city has a $3.60 per $1,000 AV cap. KCLS's cap is 50 cents per $1,000 AV. Caps can change but "what happens over time, we don't know," Thomas said. "The administration isn't going to draw any conclusions about future tax rates."
If annexation fails, is council interested in looking at other ways to keep the library open? Thomas has said that the council as a body has not made a statement about its future intent (). Jensen reiterated that whether the library is city-controlled or KCLS-controlled, it still belongs to the taxpayers.
Dickson said that if annexation failed, "I would be opposed to shutting down the library and I'd hope this council will look at measures to keep the library open."
This includes possibly doing the 50 cents per $1,000 AV increase within the city, he said. Jensen responded that that amount isn't enough for the city to operate the library. "It's not apples to apples."
Editor's Note: The Courier-Herald reported last summer that the recommendation of the Library Board was to increase the city levy by another 40 cents per $1,000 AV that would generate $421,000 and then have the city contribute an additional $260,000 each year from the general fund. Former city councilman Rich Elfers said in the that the total funding recommended amounted to closer to 65 cents per $1,000.