Grays Harbor County Commissioners campaigning for budget solutions

As the County continues to work out a functioning budget for the coming year, the commissioners are campaigning for their own ideas.
Commissioner Frank Gordon spoke at the Aberdeen City Council meeting last night. “What we’re trying to do, to present to the public for the November ballot, a 3/10ths of 1% sales tax raise.” He said he’d like to raise the sales tax county-wide to help them address a $3-million dollar projected deficit. Gordon said 60% of the new revenue would go to the county’s General Fund for public safety, the remaining 40% would go to the cities based on population. “For example Aberdeen would receive over $400-thousand if this is passed by the voters,” said Gordon.
Commissioners Wes Cormier and Vickie Raines are instead backing plans to address the budget through cuts and attrition. After a heated conversation during their morning meeting this week, Gordon said he’s spending time convincing their constituents. “I’m thinking by going out and talking to all the different cities, that are all on board, they will talk to the other commissioners for me.” He’s hoping to get the proposal for a sales tax increase, with a 10-year sunset, on the ballot in November.

Grays Harbor County Commissioners choose not to submit stance on crude by rail

The County Commissioners yesterday decided not to weigh in on the current scoping of two projects that seek to export crude oil through Grays Harbor.
Cosmopolis Mayor Vickie Raines advised the commissioners against adopting a resolution “I think at this particular time we don’t have all the information that is necessary to be making a judgment call and passing a resolution on something that is more interstate.”
The proposed resolution also called on updates to the county’s incident response plans, Commissioner Wes Cormier said it was just too specific. “I went through this and you know one of the points says that railroad company restriction of petroleum transport through Grays Harbor County and then section 2 weighs in heavily on phasing out older model tank cars. I don’t know much about this type of thing. Like I said I wouldn’t mind sending a more general letter, in support of safety, given that we have had 3 derailments.
Commissioner Frank Gordon said he’d like to call for a moratorium on the trains, but said the best they could do was urge the state and federal authorities to tighten restrictions.
The next commissioners meeting will be after the deadline for public comment on the scoping phase of two projects proposed to export crude oil from Hoquiam terminals.

County Commissioners shape proposed Public Hospital District #2, heads for August ballot

The Grays Harbor County Commissioners have accepted the proposed Public Hospital District’s boundaries, as it was presented by petition. With a “nay” vote from Commissioner Wes Cormier who had proposed an Aberdeen-Hoquiam-Cosmopolis district, the commissioners accepted Herb Welch’s motion to accept the originally proposed boundaries.¬†They then adopted a resolution to put the issue on an August 5th ballot. Split 5 ways, the proposed taxing authority would have 7 elected commissioners total, two at-large.

Commissioner Frank Gordon added signup dates are the 14th through the 16th of May “so let’s get hustling and find some people.”

The county is looking for 7 candidates for the inaugural board, if the district is approved by the voters.

State AG says Grays Harbor Commissioners need a new list for County Prosecutor

A new list of three, but they can’t pick their own, that’s the answer for Grays Harbor County Commissioners from the state Attorney General’s office in the ongoing debate to fill the vacant County Prosecutor position.
A letter from the AG’s office yesterday said that if the commissioners chose one of the three names provided by the Democratic party – which they did when they chose Vini Samuel, and that person declines – which she did in November, then the position is again vacated and the commissioners go back to the Democratic party for a new list of three candidates.
The opinion also noted that the county commissioners can not choose someone on their own, or make up another list, an option explored by commissioner Frank Gordon last month, when the commissioners demanded a second list under the threat of making their own.

Commissioner Frank Gordon demands resignation of County Assessor Rick Hole

MONTESANO, Wash. – A Grays Harbor County Commissioner is demanding the resignation of their Assessor, Rick Hole.
Commissioner Frank Gordon tells KBKW he submitted a letter to the Assessor’s office on Tuesday outlining several areas where he feels the elected official has failed the voters. Beginning with backed up revaluations that he says are placing a burden on local cities, and the decision to develop software for annual audits in-house. “We have a non-functional system. I myself, personally, feel that the system is not going to ever work.”
The letter, signed by only Commission Gordon, was also sent to the Washington Auditor’s Office and Department of Revenue.

Grays Harbor County adopts levy shift again this year

MONTESANO, Wash. – The Grays Harbor County Commissioners yesterday adopted their regular Property Tax Levy for 2014. They also adopted a levy shift that moves $500,000 from their road fund to their general fund. Commissioner Wes Cormier voted “no” on both.
Terry Franklin lives down an East county road, she said during the public comment period “You got to figure out what to do, and quit using our road money because I haven’t had lines on my road for three years. One of these days one of us is going to end up in the ditch because there’s not even a fog line, there’s not a center line, there’s nothing there anymore.
Commissioner Frank Gordon said at least they’ll be able to call 911 “We’ll I’m going to tell you the most important thing “quality of life” for me, because I lived in the country most of my life, is if I call 911 I know I’m going to have a Sheriff’s Deputy there. Well you know something, sometimes we have to take choices between one’s safety, or a line down the road.
For the third consecutive year the commissioners approved the shift, the first two years they shifted $750,000, they are authorized to shift up to a million of they need to shift their taxing authority to prop up their budget. County staff suggested they “ween” themselves off of the option, over the next few years.
The Commissioners yesterday also postponed a vote to adopt their 2014 budget until Monday the 9th.

County eager to lease Grays Harbor Raceway, seeking promoters

ELMA, Wash. – The Grays Harbor County Commissioners are hoping to open the gates on the Race track in Elma by early next year, but for right now, they’re under a red flag until they figure out what they own. County Commissioner Frank Gordon said last week “There’s some issues going on now about who owns which.” 
The commissioners canceled the contract with Great Northwest Promotions LLC in October, citing unpaid bills. Gordon said they have a more clear contract written up for future promoters. “So whoever we get in next we won’t be having this problem, but things are kind of on hold – their lawyer is talking to our lawyer.”
Meanwhile the county is looking for a promoter to lease the Grays Harbor Raceway “By the first of the year we’re hoping to get this leased to somebody so they can start working out the races for the summer.” Anyone interested should email contact information to commish@co.grays-harbor.wa.us for details.

Commissioner asks would the non-voters please shut up

MONTESANO, Wash. – The latest ballot count at the county auditor’s office shows few changes to election results expected to be certified on the 26th. Voter turnout for Grays Harbor is at 48.2% for the November General Election. Now that your ballots are in, Grays Harbor County Commissioner Frank Gordon has a sentiment he’d like to share “All of you out here that are bitching, unless you got a stamp on your hand or something that shows that you voted please shut up.
Gordon said on Coffeetalk yesterday “You people that sit and complain but don’t get involved, you can mail it. If you have a problem on the next [election] call and I’ll come and pick it up and mail the sucker for you. But you know our country will go down the tube if we don’t have people involved.
The commissioner is expecting to take more heat in the coming months as the county faces a tough budget with support for an unpopular levy shift that could again move as much as a million from the county’s road fund into their general fund. “We’re going to try to take as little as possible, I know the mayors and stuff hate it. I hate shifting money from one fund to the other because then it cuts some of the work that the road fund can do, but we have to keep our offices open.”
Commissioner Herb Welch has voted for the shift in the past, and each time said he would rather avoid it, Commissioner Wes Cormier is against the idea.

County Commissioners approve Aberdeen building demolition

ABERDEEN, Wash. – Another derelict building is coming down in Aberdeen, the Grays Harbor County commissioners yesterday awarded the demolition contract for the two-story building at 1701 Simpson.
Commissioner Frank Gordon said the bid was lower than they expected for the former Hispanic grocery store near Duffy’s “We are really thrilled, it come in about half of what we estimated it would do. This gentleman has worked for the city of Aberdeen and others and they’ve been happy with his work so very pleased with the bid.”
Asbestos prep work has been completed, it’s expected to be demolished in the next couple of weeks by Gene Yakovich Jr. Trucking of Aberdeen.
Similar to the “Big blue building” in Hoquiam, the county inherited the problem building after it’s owners defaulted on taxes, and the city of Aberdeen surrendered it to the county.

County Auditor Vern Spatz diagnosed with cancer

MONTESANO, Wash. – Grays Harbor County’s Auditor Vern Spatz will be taking some time off in the coming months, as he begins his fight with cancer. “So he’s going to go into a treatment program, 7 weeks of Chemo, 7 weeks of radiation,” County Commissioner Frank Gordon gave an update at their regular meeting on Monday.

Gordon said they’d been in a run of bad luck with some of their employees recently, Commissioner Herb Welch was again absent from the meeting yesterday, he’s home now, recovering from heart problems found last month.