Shelton-Mason County Journal - Dedicated to the citizens of Mason County, Washington since 1886

Commission Briefs

 

December 2, 2021



Commissioners approve money for Belfair Sewer project

Mason County commissioners approved an award of $450,000 a year from the Rural County Sales & Use Tax Fund to be used for the Mason County Belfair Sewer fund for the next two years.

According to the information packet, the money will be spent on the Belfair Wastewater Treatment & Water Reclamation Project, specifically phases 1 to 4 of planning and capital infrastructure development. The requests were circulated to the ports, the Economic Development Council and the City of Shelton for comment but no comments were received.

Phase 1 of the project is already complete and is partially funded by the grant.

Phase 2 extends service to the Puget Sound Industrial Center and is in the preliminary engineering phase and is fully funded with a Public Works Board grant and a low interest construction loan offer. The work in Phase 2 is in partnership with the City of Bremerton through an Interlocal Agreement and is timed in coordination with the state Department of Transportation’s state Route 3 Freight Corridor project design and construction and Mason Transit Authority’s new Belfair station.

The public comment portion of the meeting had two comments about the Belfair Sewer Project. Greg Sypnicki, who lives in the Kamilche Point precinct, said he attended the commissioners’ briefing on Nov. 15 and he liked hearing about the maintenance improvements that are being proposed for the existing parts of the Belfair Sewer.

“I really appreciated not hearing about the county extending the sewer at county expense,” Sypnicki said. “As all three commissioners know, last winter, myself and many other Mason County residents were unhappy with the prospect of the county borrowing money to extend sewer when we felt that the expense should be picked up by the landowners or developers who have the ability to recoup their costs through fees.”

Sypnicki said two of his friends attended the briefing Nov. 22 and heard about the presentation to extend the sewer to Kitsap County. He said he has the same questions as commissioner Randy Neatherlin about the project, including how much of the costs the City of Bremerton will pay before making any financial commitments.

“When you consider the Belfair Sewer system, when it was originally being constructed, they estimated that it was going to cost $14 million and it ended up costing between $52 and $54 million by the time it was completed,” Sypnicki said. “Those costs were a real big burden on the residents and businesses. Many homeowners and businesses went bankrupt as a result of the costs that were associated with paying for the sewer.”

Andrew Makar of the Lake Cushman area commented about the Belfair Sewer project, saying he doesn’t like the taxpayers paying for the project.

“I mean, what we’re doing here is taxing others to pay for a benefit for other people,” Makar said. “I’m a resident of Cushman. This project is not going to directly benefit me. The Belfair area is 45 minutes away and I get nothing personal out of it. And in a sense, we’re endevoring to pick a winner here. Usually, when I hear people talking in those terms, they are attacking these things as being socialism and benefiting winners and losers and all I’m asking that as we go forward, as we consider this project, we decided to go forward with this project, I just want to see my political leadership exercising some intellectual honesty in this area so when it comes to discussing doing something for the little people, for working people, for doing something for green projects, I don’t want to hear people crying socialist and I don’t want to hear them crying about we can’t use taxpayer money to pick winners and losers because that’s exactly what we’re doing here.”

During the approval of the action agenda, commissioner Kevin Shutty commented about the approval of the money.

“We’re already subsidizing the Belfair Sewer System pretty significantly and have been for about a decade,” Shutty said. “Here we are committing another $900,000 over the next two years of rural sales tax dollars to the Belfair Sewer. Both of our commenters were outside of the Belfair area so I want them to know they have been paying into the Belfair Sewer, even if they’re not getting a benefit to it or from it. I’d like to be able to reduce the level of those subsidies to the folks in Belfair, I’m sure they would like to have a system that is growing and self-sustaining, I think as we all want that. Just so that they know $900,000 of their sales tax is going to be going up to Belfair over the next two years.”

Commissioners certify to the county assessor the amount of taxes levied

Mason County commissioners needed a special meeting Monday to host a public hearing before certifying to the county assessor the amount of taxes levied for county purposes and the amount of taxes levied for current expense and road for 2022.

According to the information packet, the commissioners approved a move to not increase the 2022 Road Property Tax Levy and increase the Road Property Tax Levy by 10.66513% over 2021’s actual levy in order to reinstate the $1,080,000 levy shift to the current expense levy from the previous year, bank excess capacity and set the levy at $11,339,000. It includes a diversion of the road levy of $1,080,000 and a levy shift to current expense of $1,080,000.

Commissioners also approved moving to adopt the 2022 current expense and road property tax levy resolutions and continue the hearing at the commissioners meeting Dec. 7 at 9:15 a.m. to adopt the resolution certifying the county assessor the property tax levies for collection in 2022.

Public Hearing Dec. 21 for 2021 budget

Mason County commissioners set the public hearing for Dec. 21 at 9:15 a.m. for the 2021 budget supplemental appropriations and amendments.

According to the information packet, total requests for adjustments to authorized expenditure appropriations in the general fund are $1,841,380 and total requests to authorized expenditure appropriations in funds other than the general fund are $2,402,000.

Some of the expenditure changes include $1,524,000 for community support services new ERAP and ESG-CV grants, $400,000 for increased revenue and hauling costs, $295,000 for community health services COVID OFM grant with pass through expenditures and $255,892 for a one time LE and CJ revenue receipted into the treasurer’s department and expended out of the Sheriff’s department.

To see the full list of budget amendments, visit masoncountywa.gov/commissioners/budget.

Commissioners approve housing needs assessment

County commissioners approved the signing of a contract with FCS Group for a housing needs assessment in Mason County.

According to the information packet, the contract will help evaluate housing options and recommend housing needs to inform the comprehensive plan and identify the highest need for affordable housing in the county. The goals listed in the contract include informing the community on housing needs for households that are low and very low income, aid officials in assigning priority and resources to the housing needs identified and provide a necessary guide in developing appropriate housing policies, programs and strategies.

The contract states the housing needs assessment will be achieved through a public engagement plan that involves working with city and county departments and local stakeholders. FCS Group will communicate project goals to community stakeholders and members, conduct interviews and targeted expert outreach with a focus on housing development, refine the understanding of regulatory barriers and the consequences based on the testimony of the people most engaged with housing policy issues and generate long-term buy-in from stakeholders and identify elements of opposition early in the project.

The housing needs assessment will look at Mason County’s economy and infrastructure, housing policies, current housing supply, a future housing assessment and projection of renter household demand by bedroom type.

Commissioner Kevin Shutty said he is excited about the approval of the contract.

“This is something that has been a priority for the county’s behavioral health advisory board as we look to expand access to housing across the affordability spectrum,” Shutty said. I’m really looking forward to the results of that as they come in next year to better help us with planning and hopefully spur some continued growth. We need it on the housing side for sure.”

Commissioner districts approved to stay the same

Mason County commissioners approved keeping the county commission districts the same at the Nov. 23 meeting.

According to the information packet, redistricting is required every 10 years after new population information from the most recent census. The Redistricting Citizen Advisory Committee held a series of meetings and a public hearing and recommended keeping the current commissioner district lines. The committee noted the population differences between the districts are small and unanimously concluded the benefit of continuity outweighed the desire to reduce population variance.

Commissioner Sharon Trask praised and thanked the work of the redistricting committee.

“They worked diligently and they were volunteers,” Trask said. “I want to thank them for their time. I heard from many other commissioners at the conference last week that they are having a more difficult time, let’s just put it that way. Our redistricting committee did a great job, very much appreciate what they did.”

Commissioner Randy Neatherlin agreed with Trask about the committee.

“It could have been contentious but instead, our people kept it very straightforward and mellow and I think they came up with a very good simple decision that keeps history in place and allows people to continue with the structure they already know,” Neatherlin said. “Sometimes it’s harder to do that than it is to make changes that we think is going to have a great impact.”

Clayton Casto renewed as Sandhill Park host

County commissioners approved the renewal of the contract with Clayton Casto to be the Sandhill Park host.

According to the information packet, Casto’s contract expired at the end of the year but the approval extends the contract through 2022.

Teri Arcieri appointed to the Planning Advisory Commission

County commissioners approved the appointing of Teri Arcieri to the planning advisory commission.

According to the information packet, the planning commission is a seven-member citizen board appointed to advise the county commissioners on policy relating to the county comprehensive plan and on land use issue. A

 

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