White Salmon residents who have been waiting for the City Council to do something about the rag-tag appearance of City Hall can turn their attention to something else now.
The City Council voted 4-0 on Aug. 7 to award a contract for a short list of City Hall interior and exterior im-provements to a Centralia construction company, EMTech, LLC. The council eventually agreed to award the contract for the lowest-cost option of the three options submitted by the project’s only bidder.
The contract award for what was identified in bid exhibits as Option 3, including sales tax, came to just over $178,987.
Prior to this unanimous vote, the four Councilors present — Amy Mart-in, Donna Heimke, Marla Keethler, and Jason Hartmann (via phone) — disagreed on which option to select. A motion in favor of the middle ground approach, Option 1, failed in a split 2-2 vote.
Because Councilor Ashley Post and Mayor David Poucher both were ab-sent for last Wednesday’s proceedings, the tie vote couldn’t be broken. (City staff informed Councilors that Poucher liked Option 1.)
The City Council budgeted $200,000 for City Hall improvements in the 2019 budget. Clerk/Treasurer Jan Brending said staff also had identified $20,000 in the budget that could be repurposed to cover the cost of Option 1, should the council select that alternative.
Martin and Hartmann favored the just over $200,487 Option 1 because it added exterior stone and stucco finishes that would enhance the building’s appearance.
“Whatever we do, it’s going to look a lot nicer than it does right now,” said Hartmann.
Heimke, a member of the City’s Per-sonnel and Finance Committee, oppos-ed Option 1 on cost. “One thing is cost. I like the rock [featured in Options 1 and 2] but you have to pay extra for it.”
Keethler also opposed Option 1 be-cause of the cost, and because she be-lieves the final appearance should preserve the building’s current identity, to which she said “there are people with strong opinions about City Hall” and who “identify with the [building’s] Ba-varian theme.”
It was at this point that Brending in-formed Councilors that she had hoped to get a contract approved and signed so she could send it off to the contractor for his acceptance and signature right away because she was going on vacation the following week.
Brending also pointed out that EM-Tech “is ready to move in and get started as soon as you award the contract.”
She said if the 2-2 vote stood, the contract award would have to be put on hold until the Aug. 21 meeting. That got councilors thinking about time lost.
Keethler made a motion to approve a contract award for Option 3, got a second, and it passed 4-0.
Keethler, who was the most vocal about not wanting to cause upset in the community by doing too much to City Hall, said, “Option 3 is the most affordable and the fastest.”