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Nonprofit funding leads early discussion for city budget

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

Here are some topics approved and discussed from the Sequim City Council meeting Sept. 26.

Discuss health and human funding

Before the budget process, councilors opted to collect ideas for organizing their annual health and human services funding. This year’s proposed budget recommends $75,000 be distributed to agencies helping the poor and infirm. Mayor Ken Hays said the purpose of the discussion was to determine how and who they wanted to fund this year.

 

For years, the council has used United Way of Clallam County to help determine which contracts to select, but last year some councilors suggested going back to determining contracts themselves.

 

Hays proposed a percentage of the funding be allocated in advance. Councilor Bill Huizinga disagreed.

 

“If we are going to presume what percentages agencies need, it’s an erroneous presumption on our part,” he said. “United Way is involved on a daily basis. They know the need a lot more than us.”

 

Councilor Erik Erichsen said tax-paying residents deserve the money the most.

 

“What’s wrong with letting the people decide where their $10 goes?” he asked. “Why not give it back to the people and let them decide? I know it’s not much of a decrease in their taxes, but it’s something.”

 

Councilors sent their recommendations to Hays, Dubois and City Manager Steve Burkett to come back with a recommendation for the Monday, Oct. 10, council meeting.

 

Last year, they contracted $15,000 to the Dungeness Valley Health & Wellness Clinic; $12,500 to the Sequim Boys & Girls Club; $10,000 to the Sequim Senior Activity Center; $9,000 to Healthy Families of Clallam County; $7,500 to Peninsula Community Mental Health; $5,000 to Olympic Community Action, Volunteer Chore Services and Parenting Matters; and $1,000 to United Way for an administration fee for choosing contracts.

 

The City of Sequim’s proposed budget is available online or at City Hall, 152 W. Cedar St. Call 683-4139 for more information.

Sign sizes regulated

Councilors unanimously approved amending the Sequim Municipal Code to create more consistency with signs west of Seventh Avenue.

 

Chris Hugo, director of Sequim’s Department of Community Development, said the code lacks consistency where box stores have been built and that many of their signs are larger than the sign code states.

 

For example, Grocery Outlet and Ross Dress for Less each were allowed a 330-square-foot wall sign, but Costco’s sign is 250 square feet even though its façade is three times bigger.

 

“New projects make assumptions off what other projects have done,” Hugo said.

 

The following is changed:
• Limits the total wall sign area on all frontages to an allowance based on distance from Washington Street or 5 percent of a façade area, whichever is less
• Changes the number of allowed signs per business from one to two
• Caps the largest sign permitted to 80 percent of total allowance or 200 square feet.

So if a sign is at least 700 feet from the store, then the store can have up to a 200-square-foot sign, but if it is 100 feet or fewer, then its maximum size can be 80 square feet provided that in neither case can the total exceed 5 percent of the façade area.

 

Hugo said the ordinance is designed to suit the specific conditions of ‘big box’ stores that develop on large sites with great setbacks from the street. It could be amended to include new developments’ signs east of Seventh Avenue and changes apply to new signs only.

 

Some councilors were angry about the lack of sign enforcement. Ted Miller said large signs are incompatible with the city’s mission statement, and regulating them is necessary to keep conformity.
Don Hall said he has no problem with the signs but felt regulating their size was important.

Right to bear arms  

The city’s firearm ordinance now complies with state law. The council approved some wording changes including omitting the word “possess” regarding having a gun in a park, playground or public way.

However, people aren’t allowed to discharge firearms in these spaces unless authorized.

City Attorney Craig Ritchie said state law says Sequim can’t limit possession of firearms, just limit their use. He said Seattle attempted restricting people from carrying firearms in children’s parks, but the measure was ruled invalid by the court system.

 

The right to keep and bear arms comes from the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

 

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

 

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