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Councilman says mayor’s request was ‘political’

Two weeks after the Port Orchard City Council voted unanimously approved an agreement with C&M Golf LLC that would restore a water right to the city,  Mayor Tim Matthes placed the item on the July 8 agenda for the council to reconsider their previous action.

While approving the agenda, Councilman Rob Putaansuu motioned that the request for reconsidering approval of the contract be removed from the agenda. Councilman John Clauson seconded the motion.

The council voted 4-1 to remove the item, with Councilman Fred Chang as the opposing vote.

Chang said he would like to see the item placed back on the agenda and discussed. There was no motion made to have the item placed back on the agenda for discussion.

On Wednesday, Putaansuu said the mayor’s request was “silly and pointless.”

“This is petty politics, it really is,” he said. “I think this whole situation is politically motivated and Matthes is trying to point to something Lary Coppola (former mayor) did wrong.”

Putaansuu said the mayor has asked questions about the Well 4B water rights and his questions have been answered.

He noted the mayor sent out an email asking questions, but he doesn’t think Matthes wanted answers to those questions.

“He never included the city attorney (Greg Jacoby) in the email requesting the information,” said Putaansuu. “He (Jacoby) is the one who could have provided the information. There was an email send out Friday (July 4) by the attorney that answered all of the mayor’s questions.”

According to the staff report, Matthes requested the reconsideration because of the following reasons:

• The public was not given adequate background information up to the vote.

• Questions concerning a May 5, 2008 agreement between the city and C&M Golf and who gave the mayor (Coppola) authority to sign over the city’s water right, and should the agreement have taken council action?

• Where is Department of Ecology permit or certificate allowing C&M Golf to use the water?

• Was the Department of Ecology contracted prior to 2008 agreement?

• Possible tax implications regarding the agreement and value of water to the city.

• Possible ways to accomplish Department of Ecology mandate and the city’s goal.

Putaansuu said since the council approved the agreement with a 7-0 vote and that a motion of reconsideration has to be made by one of the members of the council in the majority.

“You just can’t put it on the agenda,” he said. “It has to be motioned and seconded by one of the council members in the majority. It was a Roberts’ Rule technicality that should not be on the agenda as presented. If a council member wanted to make that motion, we would have consider it.”

No motion was made by any of the council members.

He said the city will benefit from the agreement, not C&M Golf.

“It’s their well and their water right,” Putaansuu said. “We going to get the excess water right by doing this agreement.”

Agreement approved

The new agreement, approved June 24, will protect the city’s continuing right to withdraw a total of 3,528 acre feet per year. The city’s Utility Committee recommended approval of the agreement. City Attorney Greg Jacoby said in accordance with Department of Ecology requirements, the city must hold the Well 4B water rights and if the council refused to approve the agreement, the Department of Ecology would reduce the total amount of water that the city has the right to withdraw — from all of its wells — by 645 acre feet per year.

Jacoby said the city would lose 645 acre feet of water per year and wouldn’t be able to take it out of Well 9 and 10.

A staff report stated that the water rights were assigned to C&M Golf through a mistake in the 2008 agreement.

According to Aug. 17, 2012 minutes of the city Utility Commission, Doug Dow, hydro-geologist with Robinson-Noble provided committee members with a brief overview of the history and issues surrounding the Well 4B miscue, whereby C&M Golf LLC ended up with a municipal water right being used for golf course irrigation purposes.

Cucciardi expressed his intent to cooperate with the city in the reconveyance of the well’s municipal water right back to the city in exchange for a perpetual agreement where C&M Golf would maintain use of water for irrigation purposes at no charge. Public Works Director Mark Dorsey noted that C&M Golf has the ability, via meter, to determine the amount of irrigation water needed annually and for the amount to be basis for a withdrawal assignment with C&M, according to the minutes.

According to Coppola, the city council approved the agreement in 2003, then was send to the Department of Ecology for review. He said that DOE signed off on the permit in 2005.

Coppola said he signed the agreement in 2008 after taking office as mayor.

Citizen comments

During citizen comments, Gil Micheal said he was disappointed in the council approving the agreement and that no one on the council disclosed that they had any personnel business or relationships with anyone associated with C&M Golf LCC.

“Why are we doing this right now?” Michael asked. “Why is it so important that this agreement must be passed and was passed without the public having access to the documents? What was actually mistaken? Who gave the legal advise to the city in 2008 with the previous contact? Did the council authorize that agreement and if so where is the documentation?

Michael questioned Putaansuu’s relationship with Cucciardi, a co-owner of McCormick Woods and general manager for C&M Golf LLC. He said Putaansuu was treasurer for Cucciardi who ran unsuccessful for Port of Bremerton commissioner in 2011. He said that according to Public Disclosure Commission, Putaansuu gave $2,500 to Cucciaardi’s campaign.

“I don’t know why Putaansuu didn’t disclose that relationship,” said Michael.

Putaansuu said he feels it is irrelevant that he was Cucciardi’s campaign treasurer and contributed to his campaign.

“As for the Well 4B issue, I though I could make a fair and impartial decision and I had no problem voting on the issue,” he said.

“For Mr. Michael to make personal accusations is just wrong,” said Putaansuu. “It is irrelevant to the issue. I represent the city as a whole and when I cast my votes and participate in the deliberation that is my thought process.”

Putaansuu said the estimated $160,000 as a fiscal impact stated on the July 8 staff report is a “bogus number.”

“There is no fiscal impact because we could never get that water right. It’s their well,” he said.

City needs water right

According to Putaansuu, the well is located near the sixth hole on the McCormick Woods Golf Course.

“It would be cost prohibited for us to even try to hook that well into our systems. It’s nowhere near any of our systems,” he said. “It was drilled at the land’s company’s expense.”

“The issue started when C&M Golf purchased land from McCormick Land Co., and that a stipulation of the sale is that the land company perfect the water right that was applied for and drill the well so they could have their own well and water right,” said Putaansuu.

He said the city “messed up” the agreement.

“It shouldn’t have been done the way it was done,” Putaansuu said. “If they would have done the way it should of been done, they would have got an irrigation well and we would have never been in the position to get get this gift of excess water right. We are actually benefitting from this mistake.”

Putaansuu said Well 10 has the capacity for about 2,000 gallons of water per minute and now will have water right for 500 gallons a minute.

“We have a problem. We need these water rights to be able to draw water out of wells that has capacity, but we don’t have the sufficient water right to draw that much water from the ground,” he said. “If we didn’t correct this, the most likely outcome is that the Department of Ecology would convert the water right from a municipal to an irrigation water right and take away the excess water right beyond what the golf course needed. The citizens of Port Orchard tremendously benefit with this gift from C&M Golf.”

 

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