League of Women Voters Observer Corps notes on Town Council and Hospital Commission meetings

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.

Public Hospital District meeting Nov. 16

The Commission approved the 2023 budgets for the Public Hospital District and the Village at the Harbor. They approved resolutions and certifications for setting the 2023 Public Hospital District and Village tax levy and for the EMS tax levy. The 2023 budget foresees hiring for positions in maintenance, financial management, and Long-term Care Training and Home Care Manager.

On the Village, staff reported a team had visited five other assisted living facilities in the region and learned a lot. Eldermark implementation is going well improving case management and standard of care. The Village is consistently full and revenue steady, providing a solid basis for the planned expansion. The recent survey should help answer the question of how many beds the community needs. Capital expenditures have been running and some have been shifted to 2023.

Superintendent Butler presented planning goals from the present through 2023. He also reviewed the past years’ goals that had been achieved; some of which included expanded support for Planned Parenthood, integration of the Village as part of the PHD, the passage of the EMS levy, and successful contract negotiation with the Paramedics’ union.

On EMS services, response times are good. Call volume has been picking up. Tax revenue in October was about $150k lower than expected and may turn up later in the year as some payments trickle in. Communication problems have improved due to new radios which are working well, enhanced pagers and upgrade mobile radios in vehicles. The county contractor CODAN has acknowledged that their communication system is not working properly, with some radio towers installed below tree lines and is beginning the work of proposing a solution. For 2023 there is a schedule of ongoing intensive training under Assistant Chief Bishop, the new training director, and a joint training with the Fire Department is scheduled in the new year. The Commission approved the collective bargaining agreement with IAFF local 3219 for 2023-2025. As of January 2023, the Paramedics will begin working in the station.

Friday Harbor Town Council, Nov. 17

The Mayor Proclaimed Nov. 26 as Small Business Saturday as part of Winterfest.

The San Juan Islands Visitor Bureau reported on their activities which focus on off-season promotion and sustainability. They are also working to broaden the diversity of our visitors and had sponsored two writers from the black journalist alliance to visit the islands and a person to evaluate our trails for accessibility. The Visitor’s Bureau offered to fund a water refill station in downtown Friday Harbor and will work with the town manager on this.

The council held public hearings on budget and revenue. The 2023 budget is due for adoption on Dec. 15. There was a discussion of proving landscape screening for the wastewater plant.

The Public Works department provided a briefing on engineering and design standards for streets. The current standards are high, which often results in projects getting variances, so standards are not always enforced for private and public projects. There are no separate standards for alleys, which creates problems. The council agreed that they need to review and revise standards with public input to be set at an enforceable level and create criteria for variances.

The town manager reported that both large trees will be cut back 10-15 feet next week, which will address safety in time for holiday activities. The remaining life may be only ten years. The Council decided to plan for how to replace the trees going forward and requested a budget line item. Town Manager met with the County to provide data on waste amounts collected by the town for the public composting study. The Sheriff will make a presentation to the town on December 1. The Land Bank will do a presentation to the council in January on plans to build trails linking Linde Park to Beaverton Valley marsh.