By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Saying he had heard criticism that the City Council was not well-represented at the Sequim Irrigation Festival held May 3-12, Mayor Ken Hays brought up the question at Monday’s meeting.
“I think for one or two key events, the city should support us in attending and participating,” Hays said, “though I’m not sure where the appropriate lines are.”
Councilwoman Candace Pratt agreed, saying she attended every event she could last year and that the effort caused her to “spend more than I made.”
Sequim pays most City Council members $150 a month. The mayor pro-tem, who is now Councilman Ted Miller, is paid $200 a month. The mayor gets $250 a month.
Shelli Robb-Kahler, executive director of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce, said business owners like to see city officials at such events as ribbon-cuttings and festivals.
Some council members said attending events can add a cost to their duties.
“It does, indeed, get expensive,” Miller said.
Councilman Erik Erichsen said appearing at such events is more a political activity than a civic duty, and the city should not pay for the council members’ attendance.
“I don’t think that it’s appropriate that we ask the ratepayers and the taxpayers of this city to fund us . . . so that we can walk around and shake hands and be seen,” Erichsen said.
Hays agreed but asked whether it would be appropriate for the city to sponsor a hospitality table at the Irrigation Festival’s annual kickoff fundraising dinner.
“Can we find a way to support that? Because it’s a big part of the city,” he asked.
City Attorney Craig Ritchie advised the council that it should have a solid defense if it does sponsor such events.
“We can’t just give away public money,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie told the council he would write a policy proposal to present for further discussion at a future council meeting.
Paving project increase
Also, the council approved a $44,445.19 increase to the cost of paving West Sequim Bay Road.
Crews damaged a 14-inch reused water line while paving the road earlier this month.
City Engineer David Garlington said the pipe was laid too close to the road surface, which allowed it to be hit by a pavement grinder employed by contractor Lakeside Industries of Port Angeles.
The pipe has been replaced, Garlington said, but the additional cost likely will push the project $44,445.19 over its $383,723.25 budget, which included a $35,000 contingency fund.
The new pipe, which feeds water from the city’s wastewater treatment plant to Carrie Blake Park, was laid deeper in the ground, Garlington said, and should not be damaged by any future work to the road.
The council also Monday reduced the roster of the city’s Park and Recreation Board from eight members to seven, requiring four members to be from within the city limit.
The council also allowed the board to have county residents serve in non-voting advisory roles on the council.
Parks Superintendent Jeff Edwards said the board is having problems drawing enough members to meetings to have an official quorum.
The city increased the roster to eight members several years ago, Edwards said, when a large number of people wanted to serve on the board, but participation has since waned, and the board had trouble drawing the required five members to meetings.
A seven-member board requires only four members to attend to take official action.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at email@example.com.