After years of mediation spurred by the purchase of a police vehicle, the city councils of Bingen and White Salmon have accepted a renewed interlocal agreement to share law enforcement resources.
The Bingen City Council unanimously approved the interlocal agreement at their meeting last Tuesday and the five-member White Salmon City Council followed suit last Wednesday.
The agreement states that White Salmon will provide law enforcement services for Bingen for $270,000 for all of 2015. In 2016, the payment will remain the same except for considerations regarding the consumer price index (CPI) that year, according to Bingen City Administrator Jan Brending.
For example, if the CPI is less than 1% in 2015, the contract price will increase 1% the following year. The price increase will follow that trend up to 4% through 2016.
White Salmon City Administrator Patrick Munyan Jr. told his council that “this agreement is good for both cities” in that it improves on the old cost-sharing formula that was based on cost of services and each city’s assessed valuation. The current deal expires Dec. 31. The new one starts Jan. 1, 2015.
The need to enter into mediation regarding the interlocal agreement between the two towns started in the spring of 2013 when White Salmon planned to purchase a police vehicle, but seek no reimbursement from Bingen, according to the March 28, 2013 edition of The Enterprise.
At the time, then-Bingen City Attorney Anthony “Tad” Connors, wrote to White Salmon City Att-orney Kenneth Woodrich that “it is the City of Bingen’s position that such a purchase is contrary to the spirit, intent and letter of our interlocal agreement for law enforcement services. Thus, we have a dispute and so Bingen is invoking the mediation provision of that agreement.”
“It just made sense to go into mediation about the law enforcement agreement at that time,” Brending said.
The continuous mediation over the next year and a half culminated in the passage of the agreement, including $35,000 that will be applied to Bingen’s payment for 2015. The mutually agreed upon $35,000 comes from White Salmon buying out the portion of law enforcement equipment Bingen owned under the previous agreement, according to Brending.
Bingen City Councilwoman Isolde Schroder thanked Brending, Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes, Con-nors, Councilwoman Sandi Dickey, former Councilwoman Laura Mann, Bingen-White Salmon Police Chief Tracy Wyckoff, and current Bingen City Attorney Chris Lanz for the work they put in during the lengthy mediation between the two towns.
“It’s a big deal. It’s a very, very big deal in this town,” Schroder said.
Both councils also passed an interlocal agreement allowing Bingen to purchase up to 73 million gallons of water per year from White Salmon last week.
Under the agreement, Bingen’s water rate is set to decrease as of Sept. 1 through the first of the year by around 50 cents per 1,000 gallons used, according to Brending. After that, the cost of water purchased from White Salmon is set to increase by 3% every year for the next three years.
“I’m very pleased with this,” Brending said at the Aug. 19 meeting. “We’ll also be allowed to purchase additional water above what we have been purchasing to add more water to our mix from White Salmon.”