Comment: The legal expenses the city has incurred were not necessary, and the city could avoid more of them by simply releasing some public records that have until now been redacted or withheld for various legal reasons, he contended.
If Lie will identify the public records that have not been released, I will respond to the statement.
Attorney Anne Block and her associates have files 13 legal actions against the city and its elected officials. Of those 13, nine have been found for the city by either a judge or administrator, two were dismissed by the plaintiffs, and two have not yet made it into court. The courts have imposed sanctions (penalties) three times against the plaintiffs, none against the city. The city does not initiate those legal actions, but does respond to them.
If Lie has information about a bona fide settlement of the outstanding litigation, he should share the details.
He said that Mayor Joe Beavers is pursuing a personal agenda against lead opponent Anne Block, and that he has vilified citizens who are opposed. He also called the legal fees a poor way to spend money that would be better spent strengthening the police force or improving the water system.
My motto on this is that there are people who do things for the community and those that do things to the community. I tend to be effusive in my praise for those who do things for the community. Not so much for those who do things to the community.
“If the money were to be used to rehire the missing deputy, I would vote for it,” he said. ”If the money were to be used to cover the deferred maintenance on the water system I would vote for it. But with Joe Beavers as mayor, the money would not be put to any constructive use that will benefit the average citizen. From what I have seen, Joe Beavers has created this crisis intentionally to support his personal crusade against a citizen he does not like.”
The current contract with the Snohomish County Sheriff has provided excellent coverage for the region with four deputies and a sergeant and full back-up.
The levy money could not be used for deferred maintenance on the water system as the levy applies to all city tax parcels. The water system is an independent fund, operating from its own fees, not property taxes, and does not cover the same tax parcels as would the levy. The levy money is to be used to defend the city from lawsuits as noted above.
Lie also disputed the claim that water bills would rise unnecessarily if the city went bankrupt and the water system was handed over to the Snohomish County PUD.
“The reason the water bills would go up is to fund the upgrades that the city has deferred in an attempt to keep water bills low,” he said.
He contends that water rates are going to go up regardless of who manages the system.
“Are the cost for upgrades going down each year that we wait?” he said. “Are the costs of the emergency repairs going down with each year that we wait? Is Well 4 going to fix itself? The water bills can only go higher, regardless of the name of the operator.”
The city has been under direction since 2008 by the State Department of Health to make specific corrections and upgrades to the water system. All of those deferred requirements should be completed this year. The current water rates are sufficient for maintaining the above ground equipment and expected repairs to the wells. The in-ground water mains will need an extensive upgrade in the next 5 – 10 years and the current income structure will not cover that.
When we talked with PUD back in 2006 about taking over the water system, they noted that they would bring the system up to their standards immediately. So, instead of a gradual impact on water fees, there would be an immediate impact on them. The discussion with PUD will start anew when the Water Comprehensive Plan is completed.
Once the backlog of work is done, a re-review of water issues can be made in 2013.
Joe Beavers, Mayor of Gold Bar