Letters to the editor — June 17, 2020

Armed groups should carry responsibility

I believe it is time to discuss an ordinance at the local, county, and state level that would require any group that organizes an armed contingent to confront a peaceful group to be required to check in beforehand with the local law enforcement agencies to see if the information motivating such confrontation is valid.

If they fail to do so, and/or do not follow any lawful instructions the local law enforcement gives them, they would be cited with, at a minimum, a violation.

Additionally, any group that takes the law into its own hands with violence, or the clear threat of violence, whether from the right or the left, should be condemned.

It also might be a consideration that local community leaders, individuals, and groups that would use weapons, acting as vigilantes, be required to join community and law enforcement leaders and counselors to discuss dealing with potential/suspected criminals by coordinating with law enforcement and not acting on their own.

I hope our local leaders will demonstrate their commitment to a safe community where everyone respects the law and does not operate outside of it, and they will pass some meaningful legal statue that is in accord with the ideas expressed in this letter.

Let us truly have responsible, peaceful, fair law and order in our community.

Jim Dries

Sequim

With Inslee, ‘lawlessness will continue’

With utter incredulity I witnessed Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee, in a television interview, disavow any knowledge of the unlawful activities then in progress in Seattle’s Capitol Hill District which were instigated, aided and abetted by Seattle city council woman Kshama Sawant.

This lawlessness will continue as long as there is not an elected people’s representative with enough guts to state “Enough is Enough” and put a stop to it.

Every morning I awaken and thank God that we have places like Sequim in our fair state.

Ethan Harris

Sequim

Explanation required on sewer project

Let me see if I understand the story in the June 10 Sequim Gazette:

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe agreed to pay the City of Sequim $1.59 million for a connection from its new multi-million-dollar hotel in Blyn to the city’s sewer system. They apparently have not made the payment on time or at all, and have thereby incurred a late fee of $159,000.

Now the city says it will accept a payment of only $50,000 of that penalty to allow the sewer connection (which the tribe must have to be able to open the hotel for occupancy). Clearly the tribe is claiming that it can’t afford to pay the full connection fee, or even the balance of the late payment fee.

On the other hand, it also says it is able and planning to spend multi million dollars on building a huge drug treatment facility in Sequim, over the objection of a substantial portion of nearby residents. Is the tribe going to pay the sewer connection fee for that facility, or will that be deferred also?

It appears the tribe is getting very special and lenient treatment by the city—not likely to be offered to your average home builder.

Will the city council please explain this special treatment?

John Dundas

Sequim

Editor’s note: We asked the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and City of Sequim for responses to this letter:

In response to Mr. Dundas’ letter regarding the cost and fees for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe to connect to the Sequim wastewater treatment facility, we offer these facts:

The cost of the initial connection is $1.59 million. We received an invoice for that amount from the city on January 29, 2020 and had every intention of paying by the March 6 deadline. With the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and our commitment to continue the medical coverage for the hundreds of employees we had to lay off, we held off paying that invoice.

On May 27, we paid the $1.59 million. Because our contract with the City states that they “may charge a late fee,” at that time, we asked the city council to consider waiving any potential fees. They advised us that they were willing to accept $50K immediately, which we

paid on June 4, with the remainder of $151,771 payable by December. And with that agreement, the wastewater system is due to come online by the end of June, allowing us to move forward with the hiring of 75 new employees to staff our hotel.

W. Ron Allen, Tribal Council Chair/CEO

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe

Mr. Dundas,

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify the sewer connection fee for the Tribal properties in Blyn. Several years ago, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe approached the City about the possibility of processing sewage from their reservation and tribal trust lands. They were utilizing a combination of a small treatment plant and on-site (septic) systems for treatment at the time which did not have the capacity for the growth planned in the area, including the new hotel. Sequim had expanded the capacity of its Water Reclamation Facility (WRF), or sewage treatment plant about 10 years ago based on an expectation of growth within the city that did not take place. Therefore, there was unused capacity available at the WRF that was not producing any income for the City and its ratepayers.

About the same time, Clallam County was also deciding whether to build a sewage plant in Carlsborg or to send that sewage to the City. On a normal day, the WRF is running at about half its rated capacity, so there was the ability to serve both the County and the Tribe and monetize some of the unused portion of the plant.

When the county made its decision to pump their sewage to Sequim, a contract was drawn up detailing various connection charges. Hooking up a large, wholesale customer like the county or tribe is very different than simply charging the normal connection fee for a home or small busines. A consultant was hired by the County to calculate the worth of the capacity of the WRF that they wanted to reserve, as well as the value of the transmission route (pipes) that would carry the sewage to the WRF. That became the initial charge to hook up, and when the tribe made its decision to send Blyn sewage to the City, the county contract was used as the model for a contract with them.

The connection fee, or initial capacity charge, was calculated to be $1.59 million allowing the tribe to reserve a little less than 6 percent of the WRF’s processing capacity. In addition to this initial charge, the tribe will pay just about a penny per gallon for treatment (actual costs plus a mark-up), about 6 percent of all cost to run the WRF, as well as future expansion projects, and a percentage of pipe maintenance and replacement costs.

The contract had a deadline for the $1.59 million and it passed without payment. At that point, the City had a right to charge a 10 percent late fee and 1 percent per month interest on the outstanding balance. The tribe was informed that these charges would be made. In early June, the $1.59 million dollar payment was received and a balance of late and interest fees totaling just over $200,000 remained.

The tribe asked the city council to forgive this debt as they were struggling with significant losses due to the COVID-19 caused shutdown of most of their business ventures. The council discussed this issue in executive session. Council discussed the contract and penalty provisions, but recognized that that there were real losses suffered, and the importance of the jobs the hotel would create.

During open session, the council made the decision to require immediate payment of $50,000 to hook up the Blyn system and the remaining balance of $150,000 paid by the end of the year with no interest. This decision was felt to be equitable and in line with financial help the City was providing other businesses. The council passed the motion unanimously.

The MAT clinic sewer connection is much less complicated, and the tribe will be charged the city code-mandated fee of $72,400 based on the size of water meter they plan to install. (The sewer connection fee is based on water meter size in commercial buildings as what comes out of the tap typically goes down the sink and a larger meter connection can pull more water out of the system.) It is possible that as their engineers get into detailed design for the building, the needed water meter size would change, either up or down, with a corresponding change in the fee.

I hope this provides a better understanding of the charges made and the rationale behind them.

David Garlington

Public Works Director, City of Sequim

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