Sports Field upgrade on hold
Last updated 8/17/2017 at Noon
The city had hoped to replace the worn out artificial turf and make other improvements to Freedom Field at the Sports Park this fall with help from a $100,000 grant from Snohomish County secured by County Councilman Terry Ryan. The council also approved for a $250,000 grant from the State IF the legislature passed a capital budget and the bonds to pay for everything. That did not happen.
The over $4 billion in capital grants that would also help fund opioid treatment facilities, school construction and even Mill Creek’s new turf, are being held hostage in a political fight over a totally unrelated issue. The State Supreme Court’s Hirst decision is causing havoc in counties across the state.
According to the Department of Ecology, “Science has shown that rivers and streams are generally connected to groundwater. The Washington State Supreme Court said that water is not legally available if a new well would impact a protected river or stream, or an existing senior water right. If your county determines that water is not legally available for your new use, the county would not be able to approve your building permit - even if you have already drilled a well.”
So, what does this have to do with medical treatment facilities and school construction? Nothing. The grants are being held hostage by one side to force their solution on the other side. ‘Give us what we want or we won’t approve the grants.’ Even if there are the votes to approve the grants, there still won’t be enough votes, 60%, to approve the bonds to pay for the projects.
Is a resolution to the Hirst decision important? Absolutely! In some areas of the state, it’s almost impossible to get a building permit. Counties are not set up to deal with this new regulatory burden. Unfortunately, the legislature was unable to reach a compromise in its regular plus three special sessions. Compromises were offered and rejected.
Bottom line is the sick must wait for medical facilities; children must wait for schools; Mill Creek may need to postpone needed upgrades to Freedom Field; and permits for water will remain frozen until the legislature releases its “hostages.”
New labor contract signed
After several months of negotiations, the city and its 20-member AFSCME employees union have signed a new four-year contract. The new agreement contains key employment details including cost of living increases. It provides budgeting stability for the city. Importantly for the taxpayers and employees, it allows the city to live within its newly balanced budget. Well done by City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto and AFSCME union President Kim Mason-Hatt!
Now that two of the three major City contracts have been settled, (Fire District 7 and AFSCME) we can move into fall budget adjustments and begin the long Capital Improvement Project analysis. Rebecca and our Police Officers Guild have also opened negotiations on a new contract. Stay tuned.
This monthly column is written by Mill Creek Mayor Pam Pruitt and focuses on issues important to residents, as well as offering insight to what the City Council is up to. It reflects the personal views of the mayor and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the other members of the Mill Creek City Council.