Letters to the Editor
April 21, 2022
To the editor,
After Dayton City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 12, I sent a letter to Mayor Weatherford and the council asking the following questions:
Is there an alternative plan to bring our city into compliance for wastewater treatment? Will implementing a different solution take longer than continuing with the plan that was in place? How much money has the city spent in developing the plan that was just voted down? When considering the time and money that has been put into the research and planning of this project, what is the advantage of the alternate plan? Has the city now lost the $16,000 in earnest money paid to Bryan Martin that was mentioned at last night’s meeting? Will implementing a different solution take longer than continuing with the plan that was in place?
Mayor Weatherford sent this reply:
“Good afternoon, Shellie,
As I am not a voting member of council, I cannot explain exactly why each council member voted one way or the other last night. I can however answer some of your questions.
Yes, several agencies have worked together to come up with the project over many years. There was an absolute ton of time, effort, and energy that went into preparing this project by the City of Dayton, Anderson Perry, Department of Ecology, Washington Water Trust, The Umatilla Tribes, and many others. Now we (city staff, and all others involved in the WWTP project) will have to regroup to come up with another solution. This process will include council members from the Dayton City Council Public Works Committee.
Implementing a different solution will definitely take longer than continuing the plan that was in place. The City of Dayton has spent approximately $200,000.00 on this project. This money was spent on conducting investigations and all due diligence to make sure that property would work for this project.
The city has lost the $16,000.00 earnest money paid due to the previous contract has expired and with councils decision not to pursue purchasing this property Mr. Martin has no obligation to pay that money back.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions. Thank you. Zac Weatherford”
Councilwoman Laura Aukerman, who voted no, and former Councilwoman Marchand Hovrud, who voted no and resigned the next day, gave vague explanations for their votes citing “private discussion during executive session” as a reason for being vague.
RCW 42.30.110 outlines the requirements for executive session. 1b & c state that discussion that could affect the price of a real estate purchase or sale may be discussed without public disclosure. Now that there is no land purchase agreement, there is no requirement to keep the discussion private; in fact, it is my understanding that it is illegal to do so if the information is requested.
When making major decisions for our city, it is important that council understands the research that has been done for them, the consequences of their actions, and the laws of public disclosure.
We, as a community should also be concerned as to whether or not the council understands the dire consequences of their inaction. In 2019, the Dept. of Ecology charged King County $105,500 for violations. They have been patient with the City of Dayton as they were working with the city to formulate a plan, which has now been abandoned. How will businesses that have permits from the Dept of Ecology continue to operate? Will anyone be able to build a new house within the city, using our existing sewer system while it is out of compliance? I’d like to know if the council members had the answers to these questions before they made their decision.