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City councils consider joint efforts
For the first time in several years, the Sequim and Port Angeles city councils met on ways to partner. Topics included a joint municipal court, sharing public works resources, sharing infrastructure, and economic development and tourism efforts.
Sequim participants pictured from left are Sequim Mayor Ken Hays, councilor members Erik Erichsen, Susan Lorenzen, Bill Huizinga, Mayor Pro Tem Laura Dubois and Ted Miller. Not pictured is Sequim councilman Don Hall.
Port Angeles council members from left Mayor Dan Di Guilio, Brad Collins, Max Mania, Cherie Kidd, Deputy Mayor Don Perry, Brooke Nelson and Patrick Downie.
The cities’ respective city managers will evaluate the group’s ideas for consideration at a future joint meeting. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash
Partnering was the key word for the Sequim and Port Angeles city councils when the two met on April 19 in Port Angeles City Hall.
Following introductions and individual city goals and projects, staff and council members scratched the surface on sharing resources, research and ideas.
Some of those included:
• Forming a local municipal court together
• Sharing research and infrastructure plans, e.g. dog parks
• Formalizing public works equipment sharing
• Tourism efforts
• Economic development
• Promoting cities' growth but keeping individuality
Opinions from city attorneys on joining local municipal courts were neutral.
Port Angeles city attorney Brian Bloor said the tough economy could be one reason not to do its own municipal court but doing so could make it more efficient.
"We could do it on our own, but is it the right thing?" he asked.
The court could lessen wait times for citizens while decreasing rising court cases for judges.
Sequim city attorney Craig Ritchie weighed cost versus intangibles.
"There aren't any joint municipal courts in Washington but not because there can't be, there just aren't any," Ritchie said.
"We aren't going to make much money or lose much money. It might provide more convenient services for our constituents."
Clallam County District Court Judge Rick Porter said he is neutral for the cities to break off from the county's system or staying with it.
"By having separate courts, we'd have more resources but the downside is cost," Porter said.
Finding locations for courtrooms could be a large expense, he said.
Porter encouraged council members to see how the county's municipal court operates now.
Sequim City Manager Steve Burkett said each council will evaluate the pros and cons for a review in the near future.
Ritchie said deadlines are fast approach-ing for the cities to sign on for a municipal court next year and that if they signed on, it could be awhile before they could make changes.
Promoting the peninsula
Council members agreed promoting the whole peninsula as a place to stay and visit is essential.
"The goal is to attract people to the peninsula," said Brooke Nelson, Port Angeles city councilor.
"We need to continue to find ways to partner and complement what each other is doing to keep them here."
Sequim council member Susan Lorenzen said luring Canadian tourists could be easier if local shops partnered in converting Canadian dollars.
"How hard is it for a shop to have a conversion chart for the day?" she asked.
"It makes tourists feel more welcome."
Kent Myers, Port Angeles city manager, said representatives from the city of Victoria are coming in May to discuss partnerships and Sequim will be invited.
Most ideas were tabled for city managers to evaluate for city councils to consider for a future joint meeting.
The Sequim City Council next meets at 5 p.m. for a planning session on Monday, April 26, at Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St., Sequim, about low-income housing.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.