– Editor’s Note:
The Yelm City Council has been presented with staff reports of projects requiring challenging appropriation decisions for funding the city does not currently have. While the city has applied for grants to assist with some of these projects, that source of funding has not been forthcoming. While the main policy of the previous city administration was 10 years of growth doubling Yelm’s population in that period, little was done to invest in infrastructure to support the massive growth, except for excellent inner loop street upgrades. The Yelm City Council during Harding’s tenure was complicit in approving most all of his policies. Now those decision are coming home to roost with property owners and taxpayers soon to hear more in the 2nd half of 2017 about the affects on their pockets.
* Yelm in the cross-hairs on a Public Works upgrade requiring an immediate $2 million.
As the Yelm City Council begins the 2018 budget process next month, councilors would be wise to request an audit and/or summation of the annual maintenance costs of the newer buildings in town, so they know the potential impacts to their budgeting process and perhaps re-work these annual maintenance expenses:
* Longmire Park restrooms used approx 3+ months per year, yet costs money to operate/maintain.
* For a future discussion, Council will examine Longmire Park usage fees.
* Yelm Community Center – do rental receipts cover expenses?
* Yelm Library condo maintenance expense continues for another 10+ years.
* Yelm Public Works was never upgraded under Harding, while he approved adding more hook-ups.
* Council discussed several tax measures at the recent Study Sessions, including an internet tax.
* Council discussed a city excise tax in addition to the 1.78% state excise tax.
* Council to consider increasing storm-water treatment fees to be more in-line covering costs.
* Thurston County is considering a tax financing a new Courthouse facility.
– Regarding the Public Works issue, Council received an update on June 6, 2017
The engineering firm Parametrix gave a status presentation at the Council’s Study Session on the Public Works upgrades required for the current design phase, which requires an immediate $2 million investment the city does not have. The following is what was reported:
* The first project at the Yelm water reclamation facility is a 2-fold focus:
1. Replace existing, outdated hardware/software used to run the system,
2. Replace reclaimed water pump station, currently “severely” under capacity.
This requires $2 million the city does not have. Officials are looking several options including examining the city’s debt capacity to borrow these funds, or a USDA loan, and as a last resort, going to the voters/property owners [perhaps via a bond].