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Second phase of treatment plant expansion on hold

A contract recommended by former City Engineer Larry Curles to extend $1 million to RH2 Engineering for the construction administration of Phase II of the expansion of the wastewater treatment facility was continued Monday night after Port Orchard councilmembers took a closer look at the fine print.

Originally placed on the consent agenda, the item was pulled for discussion. An initial motion to deny the contract was made, but a motion to continue a council-wide discussion of other options prevailed.

“I have a problem spending $1 million without any discussion,” said Councilmember Todd Cramer, who initially moved to deny the recommendation. “Once again, we’re throwing a little of our citizens’ money to the wind without a lot of thought process.”

RH2 Engineering has been involved in the upgrade from the beginning, having designed the improved plant. Paul Gilligan from RH2 was present at the meeting to answer councilmembers’ questions. Several questioned the need for such a steep price tag to make sure construction progressed smoothly.

“For a million dollars, shouldn’t we be discussing our options?”Councilmember Rita DiIenno asked.

The committee members who, along with Curles, helped facilitate the contract assured fellow councilmembers the experience and familiarity RH2 has with the project was well worth the seemingly excessive cost, a cost committee members felt was low compared to other like contracts.

Several also assured their fellow councilmembers that Curles was a fierce negotiator and was recommending the contract in the best interest of the city.

The motion to continue discussion passed by a vote of 4-3, with Cramer, Rider, DiIenno and Wyatt voting for a continuance and Powers, Geiger and Clauson against one. Discussion will continue at the August 9 City Council meeting.

In other council actions:

n The adoption of Resolution No. 2079 authorizing Mayor Kim Abel to sign an agreement with Kitsap and Olympic Bank Cash Management was tabled after Cramer moved to add an amendment allowing all future municipality bills to be paid by credit card.

Councilman John Clauson then moved that the everyday costs associated with electronic payment be added to the city’s utility rates.

“The electronic transfer of funds is not free,” Councilmember Bob Geiger said.

The amendment failed after Councilmember Rick Wyatt pointed out he didn’t think it was right for all citizens be charged for the convenience of a few. Only Clauson and Geiger supported the motion.

After Councilmember Carolyn Powers suggested Cramer save his original amendment to be brought to a committee at a different time, tempers flared. Cramer pointed out he had waited patiently for over a year for the City of Port Orchard to “come into the 21st Century.”

“I want to discuss it tonight and I want a decision tonight,” Cramer said.

Powers moved to table the discussion. The motion passed with Powers, Geiger, Clauson and Councilmember Ron Rider in favor.

n The adoption of Resolution No. 2080 authorizing the assistant city engineer to sign the Ecology’s Monthly Discharge Monitoring Report was also hard-fought. Also pulled from the consent agenda, several councilmembers wondered whether the signoff required any special qualifications and whether the assistant city engineer was qualified to sign.

The resolution passed with the amendment that the report would fall back to the city engineer, once hired.

“We can nitpick this stuff to death, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Powers said.

Cramer, Rider, Geiger, DiIenno and Wyatt were in favor.

n The Council carried a motion to buy the Parkwood lot from Points West, Inc., for $15,000.

Councilmembers also granted permission to residents seeking to live temporarily in an R.V. at 235 Caseco Lane.

The Council finished the meeting’s business agenda with discussion regarding the salary of the newly created position of city planner and the interim positions of director of planning and public works director/city engineer.

During the committee reports, however, spats once again broke out between councilmembers about the city’s agreement with the county regarding temporary use permits for two lots the city issued to the county to help alleviate the county’s ongoing parking problems.

Abel took responsibility and later apologized to the Council for asking the Growth Management Committee to meet and work with the county on maximizing space in the lots after the Council had already finalized its decision.

“I hate to see these things happen,” Wyatt said. “It’s sort of an embarrassment for the whole council. The city and Kitsap County should be an example to the public.”

As a result of the miscommunication and harsh words exchanged between councilmembers, Powers resigned from the Growth Management Committee.

“It makes me sad,” Powers said. “This is no way to run a city government. As of right now, (my) decision stands, but I’m willing to do anything else I can to help the city.”

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