Whatcom County Council

Compiled by Barry MacHale

Action Taken at June 6, 2023 Meeting

Shall the council:
142. Adopt amendments to the county zoning code to regulate short-term vacation rentals? (Public hearing held.) Over the years, the county has received numerous complaints about excessive noise, over-parking, and other nuisances. This amendment will define vacation rentals and specifying in what zones vacation rentals are allowed and by what permit. (AB2023-309) Failed 2-4-1, Barry Buchanan, Tyler Byrd, Todd Donovan and Carol Frazey opposed, Kaylee Galloway abstained.

143. Authorize the executive to sign a $750,000 contract with the Lighthouse Mission Ministries? The contract will support the purchase of kitchen equipment and dormitory room furnishings to increase capacity at the Base Camp shelter by 50 percent. Source of the funding is the American Rescue Plan. The contract expires on 12/31/2024. (AB2023-363) Authorized 4-1-2, Carol Frazey opposed, Todd Donovan and Kaylee Galloway abstained.

144. Authorize the executive to sign the 2022-2024 collective bargaining agreement (amendment #1) with the Fraternal Order of Police? This agreement is with the Matt Herzog Memorial Lodge #24, representing the one chief and two lieutenant positions within the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Management Group.  The contract was initially approved at the 1/10/2023 meeting, vote #16. This amendment is for the purpose of adding a three percent pay increase, for a total of six percent, to create parity with the corrections deputies and sergeants. This agreement runs from 1/1/2022 to 12/31/2024. (AB2023-366) Authorized 7-0

145. Authorize the executive to sign the 2022-2025 collective bargaining agreement with the General Teamsters’ Local Union 231? The union is representing 500 employees working in multiple county departments. The agreement includes: a six-percent wage increase in 2023, four percent for 2024, and three percent for 2025; yearly increases in medical coverage contributions over the contract period; a one-percent wage increase for bilingual status; an annual $200 work boot allowance for public works, parks, and sheriff’s employees; changes in overtime allowances; and a commercial driver’s license tuition reimbursement program. The agreement runs from 1/1/2023 to 12/31/2025. (AB2023-367) Authorized 7-0

146. Authorize the executive to sign a $500,000 agreement with Whatcom County Drainage Improvement District 7? The Economic Development Investment Board recommended a $250,000 loan/$250,000 grant with Drainage Improvement District 7 to increase the size of the Atwood Road culver. The county administers the Economic Development Investment Program program and the money comes from portions of the rural sales tax which can only be used for public facility projects. Every year the Atwood Road culver overflows onto the roadway, causing damage and polluted runoff. The total cost of the project is $600,000. (AB2023-371) Authorized 7-0

147. Appoint Councilmember Ben Elenbaas to serve on the North Cascades Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee? At the 3/13/2008 meeting, vote #46, the council passed a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to implement a plan to recover grizzly bears in the North Cascades. At the 3/21/2017 meeting, vote #50, the council voted to send a letter to the superintendent of the North Cascades National Park supporting the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan. Whatcom County will join Okanogan and Snohomish and other counties in continuing to support the reintroduction of grizzly bears. (AB2023-377) Appointed 7-0 

148. Adopt an amendment to the 2023 unified fee schedule? The 2023 schedule was approved at the 12/6/2022 meeting, vote #328. Sanitary Service Company operates two drop-box facilities on county-owned property to receive solid waste and recyclable materials. Rates for collection were last adjusted at the 11/12/2008 meeting, vote #213 and SSC is currently operating at a loss. This amendment will increase the fees at the Birch Bay/Cedarville drop box facilities for recyclables from .03 per pound to .15 cents per pound and for garbage from .15 to .20 cents per pound and a $5 minimum fee to $7 minimum fee. B2023-372 (Resolution 2023-014) Appointed 7-0

149. Amend membership in the Business and Commerce Advisory Committee? At the 5/22/2018 meeting, vote #86, the council created the committee, composed of 15 members serving four-year terms, which advises the council on issues that could impact local businesses, industry, or economic development. At the 1/19/2019 meting, #18, one member was added. At the 4/2/2019 meeting, vote #82, three members were added. This amendment will add two members, one representative from the construction industry and one representative from for-profit business entities in any industry. This vote brings a total of 23 members serving four-year terms. AB2023-155 (Ordinance 2023-034) Substitute amended and adopted 5-2, Tyler Byrd and Ben Elenbaas opposed.

Action Taken at June 20, 2023 Meeting

Shall the council:
150. Fill two vacancies on the Public Health Advisory Board? The board has 21 members and supports public health by: assessing community health needs; reviewing public health policies and priorities; establishing task forces and promoting public participation in community health issues. Applicant(s): Matthew Durkee, Madison Emry and Robyn Phillips-Madson. Madison Emry received seven votes, Robyn Phillips-Madson received five votes and Matthew Dukee received one vote. Appointed: Madison Emry and Robyn Phillips-Madson. Madison Emry holds a B.S. in public health from Western Washington University. Robyn Phillips-Madson practiced family medicine for 27 years and now serves part-time as a professor of family medicine and public health. (AB2023-361) 

151. Fill a vacancy on the Open Space Advisory Committee? The committee has five vacancies. It serves in an advisory capacity to the county assessor in implementing assessment guidelines as established by the department of revenue for the assessment of open space, farms and agricultural lands, and timber lands. Applicant: Gary Cassera. Mr. Cassera has lived in Whatcom County for three years and refers to himself as a “seasoned entrepreneur with expertise in real estate, agriculture and economics.” (AB2023-380) Appointed 6-1, Todd Donovan temporarily absent.

152. Authorize the executive to sign a $304,550 contract (amendment #5) with the Opportunity Council to support operations at the permanent supportive housing facility known as 22 North? The facility is a 40-unit apartment building that provides affordable, supportive housing for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness because of behavioral and mental health challenges and the funding is for 24/7/365 facility-based staffing. At the 6/21/2022 meeting, vote #165, the council approved the original contract for $242,648. The purpose of this amendment is to extend the duration of the contract and update the scope of work related to the annual point-in-time count. The total amended contract is $838,102; it expires on 12/31/2023. (AB2023-382) Authorized 4-3, Tyler Byrd, Ben Elenbaas, and Kathy Kershner opposed.

153. Authorize the executive to sign a $50,000 contract (amendment #2) with GeoTest Services of Bellingham to provide for on-call testing and inspection of construction materials? The original contract for $150,000 was approved at the 1/25/2022 meeting, vote #25. The contract covers on-site construction field inspection, material sample collection, lab testing of concrete, hot mix asphalt and other construction material for public works projects. The total amended contract is $200,000; it expires on 12/31/2023. (2023-388) Approved 7-0

154. Authorize the executive to sign a contract (amendment #3) with the U.S. Forest Service for jail work crew services? The federal government will reimburse the county up to $109,512 for the work crews. The contract was originally approved at the 5/19/2020 meeting, vote #77. Whatcom County has provided the U.S. Forest Service with work crews since 2003. The county will provide: equipment, repairs, work crew supervisor wages and insurance coverage, and other miscellaneous administrative and operational expenses for forestry projects in Skagit and Whatcom Counties. The total amended contract is $353,520; it expires on 4/1/2025. (AB2023-389) Authorized 7-0

155. Authorize the executive to sign an memorandum of agreement with the Lummi Nation, Nooksack Indian Tribe and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to guide the remediation of county culverts that block salmon passage? The agreement will establish an Interagency Culvert Work Group, prioritize and create a schedule for remediating culverts owned by Whatcom County that block or partially block anadromous salmon passage and secure funding sources as they become available. (AB2023-390) Approved 7-0

156. Authorize the executive to accept a $1,974,900 federal grant (amendment #1) for the North Lake Samish Road Bridge #107? The council voted to accept the original grant for $8,997,310 at the 11/22/2022 meeting, vote #275. This grant will help fund the replacement of a structurally deficient wood bridge with a prestressed concrete girder bridge. It will add funding to attract more bidders and adjust for increased projected construction costs. The total in federal grant funds is $10,972,210 and the total estimated cost of the project is $12,084,600; the expiration date is 12/31/2028. (AB2023-392) Authorized 7-0

157. Authorize the executive to sign a contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for repairs to the Timon Levee? (Council acting as the flood control district board of supervisors.) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will repair the levee located along the Nooksack River between the towns of Everson and Lynden. The federal government’s share of the cost of the project is $1,620,787 and the county’s share is $405,207 for a total estimated cost of $2,025,984. Approximately 1,300 linear feet of flood-damaged levee structure will be repaired or replaced or rehabilitated to ensure long-term protective capacity. (AB2023-394) Authorized 7-0

158. Authorize the executive to sign a contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for repairs to the Upper Hampton Levee? (Council acting as the flood control district board of supervisors.) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will repair the levee located along the Nooksack River between the towns of Everson and Lynden. The federal government’s share of the cost of the project is $887,216 and the county’s share is $221,804 for a total estimated cost of $1,109,020. High flows in recent years have caused scouring that compromised embankment material. The proposed project will repair approximately 330 linear feet at two sites along the river to enhance future protection of agricultural lands, public infrastructure, and low-density development.  (AB2023-395) Authorized 7-0

159. Authorize the executive to accept $134,000 (amendment #1) for a federal pass-through grant with the Opportunity Council? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant is funneled through the state Community Development Block Grant program. A pass-through grant for $131,000 was initially approved at the 10/25/2022 meeting, vote #255. It will fund public services to low- and moderate-income residents of Whatcom, Island and San Juan counties. The purpose of the amendment is increased funding and extending the contract period. The total amended amount is $265,000; it expires on 6/30/2024. (AB2023-408) Authorized 7-0

160. Grant a quitclaim right-of-way deed to the City of Lynden? (Public hearing held.) The city wants to make improvements at the intersection of W. Main Street and Berthusen Rd. and the county. Public Works will transfer the responsibility for the right-of-way in support of the improvements project. AB2023-349 (Resolution 2023-015) Approved 7-0

161. Approve the interpretation and retroactive application of ambiguous language in the county code related to the use of ferry fee revenue? The ambiguous reference is to “income from the state motor vehicle fuel tax for ferry operation.” The fare box calculations for 2007-2022 will be recalculated. AB2023-403 (Resolution 2023-016) Approved 4-3, Tyler Byrd, Ben Elenbaas, and Kathy Kershner opposed.

162. Adopt amendments to the six-year (2023-2028) capital improvement program for Whatcom County facilities? (Public hearing held.) The program must be updated every two years; it was last updated at the 11/24/2020 meeting, vote #237; amended at the 5/21/2021 meeting, vote #120; 10/12/2021 meeting, vote #246; and the 11/22/2022 meeting, vote #288, respectively. This amendment addresses county parks, trails, activity centers, maintenance and operations, general government buildings and sites, sheriff’s office facilities, emergency management, adult corrections, juvenile detention, transportation, and stormwater facilities. The total cost of the above projects is estimated at $403,434,092 for the six-year planning period. AB2023-354 (Ordinance 2023-035) Adopted 6-1, Ben Elenbaas opposed.

163. Adopt zoning code amendments for the Birch Bay Urban Growth Area? (Public hearing held.) Amendments include: allowing smaller minimum lot sizes; requiring minimum net densities; requiring public water and sewer; and reducing setbacks. AB2023-356 (Ordinance 2023-036) Adopted 7-0

164. Amend the 2023 budget (request #9) in the amount of $842,550? Appropriated: $500,000 to support the Whatcom County Food Bank network. Seven other expenditures — all below $75,000 — totaled $342,550. AB2023-374 (Ordinance 2023-037) Adopted 7-0

165. Add $130,000 in expenditure authority (request #1) to the Hovander Park building improvements fund and the project-based budget? At the 11/22/2016 meeting, vote #215, the council established the building fund and a $275,000 project-based budget. Two unsafe structures were demolished, material removed, and the site restored before flooding suspended the project. The remaining $242,292 lapsed after three years of inactivity. This amendment will convert an existing building on the site to a new shop for park maintenance. AB2023-375 (Ordinance 2023-038) Adopted 7-0  


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