Full Plates for Commissioners on Pre-Holiday Monday


It may be a short work week, but Grays Harbor County Commissioners Wes Cormier, Frank Gordon and Herb Welch had full plates on a busy pre-holiday Monday. Items on the table today included an outstanding appointment to the distinct court bench, commissioner committee assignments for 2015, possible improvements in the assessor’s office, a possible “admissions” ordinance, and staffing crunches.

All three commissioners concurred that the task of selecting a new judge to the district court is a “tough decision.” The candidate list was whittled down to three last Wednesday. Andrea Vingo, Kyle Imler and David Mistachkin made the final cut. Commissioner Gordon said he was “very impressed with all three candidates” and “we can’t make a bad choice.” Cormier said he’s “torn.” Commissioner Welch concurred.

The commissioners agreed to postpone the decision until next week, saying they wanted more time to gather additional information and talk to more people. The vacancy is a result of last month’s appointment of Judge Stephen Brown to Grays Harbor Superior Court.

After being postponed a week pending input from Commissioner-Elect Vickie Raines, the commissioners voted to approve commission committee assignments for 2015 as they stand. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s done,” said Welch. Cormier said he wouldn’t mind seeing assignments done in January, after Raines is sworn in.

Raines indicated a strong desire to serve on the flood authority committee at last week’s morning meeting. Gordon said that for now, Raines can represent Cosmopolis while he represents the county on the committee. He made a motion to leave the assignments list as is. Welch seconded. The motion carried, with Cormier dissenting.

Assignments will be revisited in January.

Assessor-Elect Dan Lindgren discussed putting together an RFP (request for proposal) on a computer aided mass appraisal system, with an eye toward improved efficiency and timeliness.

Oh, and did anyone consider some of the unfunded side effects related to decriminalizing marijuana? Like how it might impact local public service departments related to inspecting and permitting pot-selling businesses? Ditto farming, processing, and production facilities?

Well, the impact on the county’s public services department may be significant when added to other duties. Public Services Director Kevin Varness is looking to add another Planner position, citing staffing crunches and increased workload.  Gordon seemed to lean toward approval. Cormier didn’t, citing budget concerns. Cormier suggested cross-training, multi-tasking and exploring other options to maximize scarce county funds. The Department of Public Services includes public works, utilities and development, building, planning, environmental health, fire marshal, and solid waste recycling.

Expect further discussion.

County Auditor Vern Spatz was on hand to discuss a potential ordinance to “amend Grays Harbor County Code Chapter 3.04 – providing for Administration of the Duties and Authority contained in the chapter to be exercised by the County Auditor in place of the County Treasurer.” This relates to a proposed “admissions” ordinance. It would assess a tax on admission to certain events in certain venues, primarily fair and race track admissions. Whether or not it would similarly effect the ORV park is open to question.

Spatz expressed concern about the possible impact on his office related to additional workload and costs associated with administering the proposed ordinance. “My concern is how it’s going to effect my office,” he said. Spatz reiterated his concerns at the afternoon meeting, where he noted that the ordinance in question dates back to 1943 but has not been used in several years. “I’m feeling real rushed in to this” he said in the afternoon.

Spatz asked for estimates regarding potential impacts on budgets and stakeholders and a study on potential revenues the proposed ordinance might generate vs. costs to administer same. Gordon indicated these would be forthcoming.

The “admissions” ordinance was on the Hearings section of the afternoon agenda. No one commented on it except Spatz. No decisions were made on the ordinance. Another opportunity for public comment was set for December 15.

Expect further discussion. Again.



Imler, Vingo and Mistachkin Vy for GH Judicial Appointment


Photo credit: Public domain