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CITY NOT TOTALLY UP-FRONT IN SERVING PUBLIC’S INTEREST – USES NVN FOR MORE DECEPTIONS IN STORY OUT TODAY

Megan Hansen, NVN Assistant Editor called me yesterday at work to get my comments on the State Auditor letters of August 12th sent to City Administrator Shelly Badger in response to several Citizen Hotline referrals related to contracting and the City of Yelm’s Golder Water Study. I told her I NOT could answer about writing to the State Auditor until I could get home and verify my documents, which was after her deadline. I have commented here several times previously about the Golder Water Study really being funded by the Yelm taxpayer for a private developer, so she wanted my views. I had never seen the Auditors letters, so asked her to fax them to me.

The Washington State Auditor “found it is reasonable that the City would pay for the water study, not the private developer.”
They did not say why.
The Golder Water Study letter from the
Washington State Auditor-1
The water contracts letter from the
Washington State Auditor-2

LOOK FOR A FRONT-PAGE NVN STORY TODAY WITH CITY OF YELM ADMINISTRATOR BADGER ATTEMPTING TO COVER THE CITY’S BACKSIDES WITH THE AUDITOR’S REPORT, AS THEY LICK THEIR WOUNDS FROM A STINGING REBUKE FROM ECOLOGY’S DECISION TO DEFER CONSIDERATION FOR ANY WATER-RIGHTS ACQUISITIONS FOR YELM IN 2009, FORCING THE CITY TO WITHDRAW THEIR MDNS FOR LACK OF WATER RIGHTS.
Will update this once the NVN story hits the newsstands later today!
[UPDATED 1:15PM AUGUST 27, 2009
Here is the front-page story & Op-Ed piece in the NVN today on this issue:
1. Auditor debunks channelers claim

2. Editor/Publisher Kevin Graves’ Op-Ed Piece in today’s NVN:
A fire that never should have been lit]

Ed. Note: The public should have the benefit in-full of my letter to Mrs. Badger mentioned in the NVN story. CLICK HERE.
The City of Yelm nor the Nisqually Valley News have ever explained which items of JZ Knight’s 2 full-page ads about water issues here are not correct. That they have not said anything is telling!
Ad # 1 CLICK HERE
Ad # 2 CLICK HERE
The WA. State Auditor has verified I filed no Citizen Hotline comment in either of these cases.
To Mr. Graves:
Interesting that you say this should have never been examined, yet asking about the taxpayer getting reimbursed their money to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars is NO different than your Op-Ed questioning a Rainier High School Principal’s $10,000 severance package, except the amount of dollars the Yelm taxpayers are out is almost $1 million with the Water Study and the expenses of Thurston Highlands not being repaid. “Where do I get on the gravy train?”
If 1/2 your passion and zeal in examining Roy & Rainier issues were directed at Yelm, the public would be better served!

I said this to the NVN yesterday,
“The Auditor’s report states, ‘The study [Golder Water Study] recommended that the City should consider moving its water supply to the south west portion to pull from a deeper aquifer…’
The issue for me has always been WHY is the city looking to move its water supply to the south west, except to support a 5,000 home MPC (Master-Planned Community) that applied to the go there? The city sits on the same aquifer as does the south west area and all the city has to do is to drill their wells deeper. Isn’t drilling current wells deeper & upgrading the city’s current water system less costly to the public than moving the city’s water system over a mile down the road?”

Further,
The City has not been totally up-front and in serving the public’s interest by saying this Golder Water Study expenditure was not for an MPC. To repeat to make a point, if the Golder Water Study and the city’s Draft Water System Plan are not for an MPC, then why has the city been looking to build a whole new system out in the south west area? If not to support an MPC there, the city would have no need to spend the money on miles of pipes and other infrastructure to the tune of $11.4 million, from Chapter 8.8 Chart of the Yelm Plan, when they already have all they need to support current and future customers by simply upgrading their existing system.
Therefore, the Golder Water Study IS indeed to support an MPC!

The Auditor did not address this issue in their answer.

Interesting that the south west area that is the focal point of the Golder Water Study and the City’s Draft Water System Plan is on private property, for which the city has no rights of access. The Thurston Highlands developers that owned the land defaulted and left the city holding the bag on back taxes and fees for that property.

Yet, as covered here on January 14, 2007,
The City Staff Report says Through the Conceptual Master Plan process for the Thurston Highlands community, there will be a determination on the pro-rata share of private financial participation towards this project. [this means that the costs of the water study will be divided between the city and the developer and that the split of those costs is yet to be determined.]

Then, Ms. Badger was quoted in the NVN February 2, 2007 saying,
If a good water source is found on the Thurston Highlands site, developers will have to pay their fair share, which won’t be determined until the Environmental Impact Statement is complete later this year.”
It’s after the EIS when it will be determined how much they have to pay.”

I asked the following questions back then,
– So, why IS the city using public money to front a developers EIS?
– Is this not preferential treatment?
– Would the city fund an EIS for you, me or any other developer? Then determine payment AFTER the EIS?
– Will the public be repaid interest on loaning money for Thurston Highlands EIS?
– Obviously not, quoting Ms. Badger in that NVN story, It’s after the EIS when it will be determined how much they have to pay.”
I asked,
If there is no contract now for how much they have to pay, what obligates Thurston Highlands developers to pay anything for this study in the future?
– Quoting the February 2, 2007 NVN, But, said Badger, and Yelm Mayor Ron Harding, pursuit of water from that location would be taking place regardless of who owns the property and what they plan to do with it.
As I said, this is private property that has had various owners during the last decade. What if there is no agreement reached with the current owners, what will the city do then?
And who will pay Thurston Highlands pro-rata share for the study then?

[Ed. Note: Interesting to note that when the EIS finally came out last Fall, the Thurston Highlands developers were in default and in arrears on back taxes, fees and the repayment of the Water Study. So, now the aforementioned questions have come home to roost, as the city is out the developers’ money for the Water Study! I saw NO mention in the NVN about the city not being repaid from the developer for the pro-rata share of the Water Study, as mentioned in the NVN by Mrs. Badger in 2007!
Interesting how the City of Yelm & the NVN continue to leave out important facts!
The city continues to be not totally up-front in serving the public’s interest by omitting this information.
]


Golder Associates is the engineering firm hired by the City of Yelm to conduct the south west aquifer study. The City of Yelm tells the firm what they want covered in the study and pays them for that report. So, the Golder Water Study was the city’s own contracted report. Since the city has had eyes on developing the south west area water to support more housing developments there, we all can see the Golder Water Study WAS indeed to support an MPC, a Multi-Planned Community that was to be built by a single company – Thurston Highlands!
The State Auditor investigates only what they are requested by Citizen Hotline comments, nothing more. Their job is to be fair and balanced in assessing what is presented them. Since the Citizen Hotline comments filed were anonymous, we do not know exactly what was given the State Auditor to examine, nor the thoroughness of the questions to direct the Auditor’s attention. I have never a legal issue on the Water Study, rather, I have always questioned the ethical thing for the city to do regarding what they said they would do (have the developer pay a pro-rata share) and just what is the right thing to protect taxpayers’ money.

So, how is the city’s taxpayer to be repaid for the Golder Water Study?
1. Through a developer’s pro-rata share according to Mrs. Badger? They’re gone.
2. Through the potential new land-owners “pro-rata” share? Perhaps, though at this time, not likely
3. Though new hook-ups? In this economic environment, very few new homes will be built here.
And, the city has no more water to have any new hook-ups anyway.
So, Mrs. Badger via the NVN, please tell the public how and when the Yelm taxpayer is to be repaid the pro-rata share” of the Water Study?
Or was that all shoved aside and the city now feels justified to go ahead and use taxpayer money to fund the entire Water Study?
And, why did the city not require they get repaid by the developer for the Golder Water Study?
This just never made any sense.
Would you run your business this way?

Did the Auditor have this information to address this issue in their answer.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE CITY HAS ONCE AGAIN NOT BEEN TOTALLY UP-FRONT IN SERVING THE PUBLIC’S INTEREST BY SAYING THE GOLDER WATER STUDY WAS NOT FOR AN MPC. OF COURSE IT WAS, SO THE CITY BASICALLY PAID TAXPAYER MONEY TO SERVE ONLY ONE MPC – THURSTON HIGHLANDS!
I HAVE BEEN BRINGING THIS ISSUE TO LIGHT FOR ALMOST 4 YEARS.
I STAND BY MY PREVIOUS STATEMENTS ON THIS, REGARDLESS OF THE STATE AUDITOR’S REPORT. WASN’T THE RIGHT THING TO DO ON THE PUBLIC’S BEHALF WAS FOR THE CITY TO FOLLOW-THROUGH AND ATTEMPT TO RECOUP THE DEVELOPERS’ PRO-RATA SHARE?

MRS. BADGER WILL SNOW-JOB THE NVN ONCE AGAIN IN TODAY’S STORY AND THE PUBLIC WILL BE BE LEFT IN THE DARK ON THIS ISSUE.
AND, MRS. BADGER KNOWS BETTER!

AND, NVN CONTINUES TO RAIL AT ROY AND RAINER FOR THEIR PUBLIC MALFEASANCE, WHILE YELM CONTINUES TO GET A “BYE” FROM THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER!
EITHER THAT, OR THE NVN TRULY JUST DOES NOT POSSES THE KNOWLEDGE OR ABILITY TO DISCERN YELM’S ISSUES. I WILL GIVE THEM THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT ON THAT.
HOWEVER, THIS IS TRULY SAD, TRULY SAD!

Posted by Steve on August 27, 2009 at 4:29 am | Permalink

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