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WS council considers ideas for landfill fund

County provides $250,000

With a Dec. 22 deadline looming, the White Salmon City Council has begun the process of deciding what items from its project "wish list" to ask for.

A list of 12 possible ideas has been created, and the council must soon decide which one or two of those projects would bring the greatest benefit to the city of White Salmon.

In a special workshop session on Nov. 18, several members of the White Salmon City Council and Wil Keyser of the city's Public Works Department came up with the tentative list.

The estimated dollar amounts of the dozen ideas on the council's tentative list ran from a high of $350,000 for a stormwater infrastructure plan to a low of $8,000 to upgrade tennis court facilities in White Salmon.

Every year, the Klickitat County Economic Development Authority has set aside a portion of revenue from the county's landfill at Roosevelt to fund projects requested by various communities. The county takes in a minimum of $6 million per year in "tipping fees" at the landfill, and this year, the county expects to make $250,000 available to help pay for community development proposals.

According to Dana Peck of the Klickitat County Economic Development Department, the amount has not yet been confirmed.

"A budget of approximately $250,000 has been tentatively identified for 2004, although the final budget amount won't be known until late December," Peck explained.

If the figure holds, it will be the third year in a row the county has provided less for community enhancement projects and economic development priorities for local communities. Approximately $352,000 was distributed from the landfill fund for 2002, and $300,000 for 2003.

In 2001, $500,000 was earmarked for communities.

Typically, a community requests funding for one or two projects that its city council or community council deems most important. Depending on the dollar amount of the request, the top priority of a given community usually gains funding.

White Salmon Mayor Roger Holen said the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners set the funding level.

"The commissioners decide on the total dollar amount, based on other budget factors," Holen explained.

County Commissioner Don Struck said he anticipated that the EDA funding would probably remain at the $250,000 level in upcoming years.

"Most of the more urgent projects have been taken care of," Struck said. "It's time to ratchet it down a bit. I would think it would stay static at $250,000. It is a budget issue."

Struck explained that with state funding declining and the cost of insurance and employee salaries increasing, there is less money available overall to cover the county's budget. As a result, less is being set aside for EDA projects.

"This (the $250,000) still leaves it open for about $20,000 per community per year," Struck pointed out.

At the Nov. 19 White Salmon City Council meeting, members decided to defer choosing its funding priorities until its next meeting.

According to council member Tim Stone, the three council members present at the workshop did not believe they were ready to make an informed selection, so the prioritization process was postponed.

"There was not enough information on costs from those seeking money, and not everyone was present," Stone explained.

The full list is as follows:

Enhancement of the Community Youth Center programs. Cost yet to be determined.

Upgrade tennis courts. Estimated cost: $8,000-$10,000.

Phase one of stormwater infrastructure enhancement plan: including purchase of acreage for siting treatment ponds. Estimated cost: $350,000.

Traffic control light for a signal at Estes and Jewett or Main and Jewett: Estimated cost: $175,000.

Pioneer Park landscape enhancement. Estimated cost: $15,500.

Land purchase for downtown public parking lot. Estimated cost: $120,000.

Purchase of land for City Hall annex/police department. Estimated cost: $120,000.

Purchase of land for refuse compactor, truck shelter and wash facility. Estimated cost: $50,000.

Dog pound/animal control facility. Estimated cost: $105,000.

Boardwalk for Mamie Gaddis Park. Estimated cost to be determined.

Community Family Service Network grant. Estimated cost to be determined.

Urban growth area stormwater analysis. Estimated cost to be determined.

The City Council plans to determine the city's funding priorities at its Dec. 3 meeting at the Park Center.

In February, the County Commissioners will make the final decisions on which projects will be funded around the county.


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