Waterville Town Council | Public hearing on building moratorium draws participation, comment

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Several Waterville residents turned out Aug. 6 for a public hearing on the six-month building moratorium instituted by the Waterville Town Council in June. The moratorium, based on concern about the water supply and sewer capacity, was adopted on an emergency basis before the public hearing was held. The moratorium allows the town to issue five building permits during the six-month period.

Many of those attending took the opportunity to ask questions — about the potential for the town to access more water and why the town has been continuing to issue building permits despite the tight water situation.

According to Mayor Royal DeVaney, the town is still awaiting a report from engineers that will give an accurate picture of water and sewer capacity relative to current demand.

Council members were presented with a task order from the engineering firm Anderson Perry & Associates regarding work scheduled on sewer mains throughout the town. Much of the work will involve taking video footage of between 10,000 and 20,000 feet of line and determining which parts of the pipes should be prioritized for repair or replacement. DeVaney estimated that the budget will enable the company to collect video footage of half or more of the town’s sewer main line, and the footage will focus on the older parts of the line.

DeVaney has been approached by the county commissioners a second time regarding Well No. 1, a hand-dug well at the fairgrounds that has been decommissioned for some time. The commissioners have said that they have a letter from the Department of Ecology granting permission for them to use the well for irrigation at the fairgrounds should the Waterville Town Council agree. The commissioners have agreed to pay for the water and to put locks on faucets to prevent unauthorized personnel from using the water. The council members, who had denied the request to use the well earlier this year, said they were open to reconsidering this issue but wanted to see the letter from the DOE.

In response to a request from the town’s building inspector Frank Spaun, the council voted to increase Spaun’s hourly wage from $75 to $85 beginning Jan. 1.

DeVaney presented water usage reports from the parks, school district and cemetery, which compare usage for each month this summer with the same month in 2017. The reports showed a general decrease in usage by the parks and the cemetery. There was an increase in usage on some parts of the school grounds and DeVaney would approach the district to inquire about this.

Clerk/Treasurer Marsha Peterson presented the 2019 proposed budget timeline. Revenue estimates will be presented during the regular meeting on Sept. 4; the council workshop will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 19; there will be a public hearing on the ad valorem tax and ordinance, on estimated revenue and on the preliminary budget on Nov. 5; and there will be a final budget hearing on Nov. 19.

A full financial and accountability for the years 2015-2017 will begin on Sept. 5 and will take three weeks to complete, according to Peterson.

Link Transit board member Joyce Huber reported that the board is now meeting at its new location at Columbia Station. The board continues to discuss terms for replacing the five electric buses that did not operate up to expectations. These will be replaced by the company, BYD. A two-year warranty will start after the buses are accepted by Link. Batteries and charges for these five buses, as well as five new buses that Link has committed to purchase will be improved with greater power capacity.

Link will soon be breaking ground to build the Leavenworth Park & Ride. The transit authority is also entering into an interlocal agreement with the City of Rock Island for property that is projected to be a park & ride in that town.

Council member Chuck Driver attended the last Solid Waste Advisory Committee meeting as an alternate for DeVaney. According to Driver, the committee had approved a room divider change in the office and was working on a solution for Freon removal from appliances that are recycled. After looking into the costs for purging individual appliances, the committee decided to buy a machine for about $800 to purge the appliances.

DeVaney presented a management plan from the Solid Waste Advisory Committee. The plan had been shortened and was more readable and usable. Council members wanted to read the plan before approving it.

DeVaney presented a letter from the engineering firm Erlandsen & Associates reporting on progress for the Walnut Street Reconstruction Project, funded by a grant from the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB). The required archaeological survey has been completed and will be sent to TIB for approval. Near the end of August, the council will be presented with a completed State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) checklist for evaluation and approval.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20.