LWV Observer Corps notes for County Council

Submitted by League of Women Voters.

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.

County Council regular meetings of March 6 and 7

County Director of Facilities Greg Sawyer briefed the Council on County building issues. The county has properties and buildings dispersed across six islands.

There is a general space shortage for some functions, specific shortfalls in meeting regulatory requirements, and problems with specific buildings. Adult detention is inadequate and juvenile detention is non-existent. On Lopez, new space will be needed soon for the Sheriff and Juvenile Court Services.

The Courthouse is seismically unsafe and has serious water damage. Consolidating many County operations in a new building would be more cost-effective and better address issues than renovation/remediation of substandard buildings. The sale of existing buildings could cover some of the cost.

The Prosecuting Attorney will review the 22 Volunteer Boards and Commissions, two-three at a time with Council in the coming months looking at their authority, mission and membership requirements and proposing any needed updates to code, training and the county website.

The observer was not present for a discussion on the State legislative session communication protocol. The Council received correspondence on the WSF run to Sidney which Jane Fuller will respond to, a communication from WSF on the interisland run. Councilor Wolf will invite WSF, state officials and legislators to a public meeting with Council on the issue; date TBD.

Citizens from three islands, the Orcas Coalition on the Homeless, and three FRCs spoke in support of a one-tenth of one percent sales tax to support programs addressing homelessness.

The Council set a public hearing for April 4 on disposing of surplus property. A number of people spoke in support of the RFQ responses from Favor/34 or from the Home Trust for the Argyle Lots.

County staff reviewed the two proposals, the process so far and the process going forward. County staff and the Housing Advisory Committee recommended that the Council proceed with the Home Trust proposal as it more closely met RFQ elements and was a known and trusted long-term partner. Council members were not ready to move on that recommendation and wanted to further explore the possible private partnership and to better understand various elements, including the financial roadmap for both proposals.

Council members joined an open meeting with newly elected officials on Lopez on March 11.