Housing director in works for Clallam County

Clallam County commissioners are tackling housing issues with discussion about a new position.

Their efforts — designated through their auspices as the county’s Housing Solutions Committee — were broadly designed to identify projects with housing providers, builders, real estate professionals and local governments that could help alleviate the housing crunch facing local residents.

The board discussed during their weekly work session on June 6 creating a dedicated position through the county to serve as the new housing solutions executive director.

Commissioner Randy Johnson took the initial lead on the discussion, but soon all three commissioners fully engaged in the effort.

Said Johnson: “There are just a myriad of subjects related to affordable housing … I know others don’t agree with me, but I do think housing is a high priority in this county, and we need to continue to make it a high priority.”

Commissioners generally agreed that funding a full-time person was critical to directing the county’s efforts to combat the region’s housing crisis.

“The concept of what does it look like to develop a position so that there is a person who is guiding this very complex effort over the next few years, I think makes an awful lot of sense,” commissioner Mark Ozias said.

Commissioner Bill Peach expressed interest in finding an executive director who could spread a broad umbrella over the disparate functions associated with housing and funding.

“My concern is that there is a collection of different revenue sources and specific conditions associated with each type of revenue. … Managing all of that process and making sure that we are in compliance is a bit of concern to me.

“I support your concept of having someone who can help monitor all of that because it’s no doubt a full-time job.”

Ozias reasoned toward the end of the discussion that it made sense to house the position in the county and possibly initiate an informal connection with the Clallam County Economic Development Council for further cooperation.

“I think of it as the executive director for housing in Clallam County within the county — and underneath the auspices of the commissioners office,” Ozias said of the new, anticipated position.

He suggested the executive director will need to interact with the county’s Department of Finance, the Department of Community Development, Department of Environmental Health and other government entities both municipal and tribal.

“We are looking at creating a position that will be funded through the year 2026 at least, and that will give us time to have some reviews,” Ozias said.

In the end, commissioners agreed to return to the housing topic and in the meantime formulate a draft housing director job description by July 15.

In other action on June 6:

• Commissioners moved along a request to the state Office of Victim Advocacy for grant funding though the Victim Witness Assistance Grant Program. The grant — for $62,230 — will fund nearly 70 percent of the salary and benefits of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office’s victim witness coordinator.

According to Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols, the felony-level victim witness coordinator is an invaluable position within the prosecuting attorney’s office — one that has proven its worth over time.

“The position is a very important position within the prosecutor’s office,” Nichols said. “It provides fantastic service to victims and witnesses that helps them navigate and understand better the process that they participate in, in connection with criminal prosecutions.”

Commissioners agreed to move the grant-funding application to an upcoming regular meeting.

• They also agreed to review the All Hazards Alert Broadcast Siren Agreement with the Washington State Military Department.

The agreement is a 10-year memorandum defining the roles and responsibilities of both parties regarding the purchase, installation, maintenance, operation and testing of eight earthquake/tsunami warning sirens within Clallam County.

The sirens are located at Clallam Bay water treatment plant, Sekiu marina, Port Angeles marina, downtown Port Angeles, Morse Creek — Four Seasons Ranch, San Juan vista, Dungeness fire hall and Diamond Point beach. They alsoare in Jefferson County.

Said Clallam County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. John Keegan, who is the county’s point of contact for the siren locations: “The state pays for the majority of everything — the installation and the maintenance. We pay for basically the power, the hooking up and anything electrical that includes the batteries that are inside the power unit during power outages that probably are our most significant cost.”

• Commissioners also set a public hearing date to discuss an ordinance extending the duration of the water system franchises for Elizabeth Lane and Sunshine Acres held by Washington Water Service Company. The public hearing will be at 10:30 a.m. June 28 in the commissioners’ meeting room in the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Room 160, Port Angeles.

• Mark Lane, Clallam County chief financial officer, offered an overview of April’s year-to-date (YTD) general fund results.

Included in the numbers: April’s YTD general fund revenue totaled $15,253,000, an increase of $138,000 from the same time in 2021.

Revenues overall, excluding COVID-19 reimbursements, were at 32.8 percent of the 2022 budget for April YTD, trailing last year’s 35.8 percent. Year-over-year decreases were reported in several categories, excluding taxes, licenses and permits, intergovernmental and timber sales.

• In their regular business meeting on June 7, commissioners opened a bid for construction of phase 2 of the Lower Dungeness River Floodplain Restoration and Levee/Road Realignment.

The board received one bid — from Delhur Industries Inc. of Port Angeles, for $13,817,360.82 — to complete the project.

The realignment will reduce the risk of flooding by setting back a levee and relocating a road away from the floodplain of the lower Dungeness River, according to the Clallam County Community Development Department.

Phase 1 of the project included building the main portion of the setback levee.