Council declines to put library annexation to a vote


April 18, 2024

DAYTON–The City Council voted unanimously to not place the library annexation on the November ballot at their regular meeting.

Dayton resident Katie Roughton had made the request to the council back in January in hopes that city voters would have the opportunity on how taxes directed to the library are spent. The city council has met several times to discuss and research the topic at meetings and workshops and ultimately decided that the request did not have enough support to show the need for a vote.

"We had lots of input from the community," said Councilwoman Laura Aukerman. "A lot of emails. We had people coming up to us on the street. And in doing so the large majority from the community did not want to send it to vote."

In other business, Dayton Chamber of Commerce Director Belinda Larsen said they have been busy with ribbon cuttings, attending the opening of the new daycare facility, attending educational classes at the port, working with the school and meeting the candidates for superintendent, writing letters of support for grants for the port, writing grants for their own projects, hosting the Brix and Brew event, and planning for the upcoming events such as Downtown Development Task Force clean up on April 20, ribbon cutting for Vicky's Sweet Shoppe, Dayton Days parade, and the 30th Anniversary of All Wheels Weekend.

Sheriff Joe Helm stated that there has been an increase in incidents, most likely due to better weather and people being more active.

The Sheriff's Office (CCSO) is hosting another citizens academy starting on May 3. Citizens 18 years and older, businesses, and groups wanting to get involved may apply at the sheriff's office. The class will provide a glimpse into the involvement of the CCSO in the community.

Other upcoming Sheriff's Office events is a drug take back day on April 27; and the Hidden in Plain Sight event on May 15. CCSO is working to have all their deputies complete the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement program (ARIDE) this year. They are also seeking volunteers to help work alongside the sheriff's department to implement a crime watch program for the county.

In addition, they are working with the National Child Safety Council to provide free educational materials to the community and the youth on topics such as drugs, bullying, issues with kids at school, internet security, fraud online, and medication issues, etc.

Columbia Commissioner Ryan Rundell presented a signed letter of support for the Dayton Wastewater Treatment Project to help acquire grant funding. In addition, Rundell indicated due to new state legislation, the Prosecuting Attorney will no longer be the de facto coroner. There are options to filling the position; by election, appointment, or contracting with a nearby county. The coroner position change takes effect in January of 2025.

Dayton School Superintendent, Rich Stewart presented a new contract to the city allowing school use of the high school football fields, track, and facilities. The previous contract expired back in 2014.

In the previous contract, the school was to pay one dollar a year as rent, and the city would pay a percentage of the water bill. Neither entity had been fulfilling those obligations. The new contract states the school will pay for the full utility expenses, and owe no rent for the use of the facilities. The contract will span 50 years, beginning at the expiration of the last contract, 2014.

The next step is for the school board to approve the contract and signed by the Superintendent, then city approval and the mayor's signature.

The city council also authorized Ordinance 2011 that will change the hours of operation for the City Hall Office to Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The change in hours will take effect on May 1.

Public Works Director Ryan Paulson reported that someone broke into the dog pound to leave an animal. A note was left indicating the dog was aggressive and they did not want it anymore. "If I don't have background on the dog and they tell me it's aggressive, I cannot take it to the Humane Society and I can't adopt it out so the dog was put down," said Paulson.

The break-in caused damage to some welds and he will be working to repair those.

There has been a lot of interest in the Otta Seal project from contractors and are expecting four to six bids to choose from to start that project. There will be a volunteer group from Walla Walla that will be painting the underside of the highway 12 bridge and the train bridge to remove the graffiti on April 19. They will also paint the three gazebos in the park and some of them will go to the cemetery to help clean up.

Paulson also reported that he has gotten Charter to buy 2,000 feet of cable to replace the cable that was taken down that works with their sound system for Dayton Days. He also stated that he was successful in another application from Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) for the 4th Street project in the amount of $696,350.00. This project will be completed in phases. First, they will be upgrading the sidewalks for ADA compliance from Main St to Mustard St. Then the following year they will apply to grind and overlay the roads in that section. He is also working for a grant to upgrade cameras and surveillance for the park, pool, and maintenance shop.

Misty Yost said the city office will transition away from door knockers to announce shut off notices to mailed notices. "This will allow us to provide more information that is currently not on the door hangers. For example, places where people can go for financial assistance such as BMAC and Project Timothy," said Yost. They are also sending out soft delinquent notices. At 60 days customers will get a gentle reminder that their bill is past due and options for payment, and then at 90 days they will get the mailed shut off notices. This is an attempt to encourage people to not be afraid to reach out and work out payments with the city to avoid service shut offs. "We have had significant responses to those," said Yost. "We took our arrears just for this month from roughly $14,000 at 60 days to roughly $5,600."

In addition, during the state audit, it was brought up that in the current payment plan, the city was not charging interest to customers and it is required. Beginning last month (March), the city changed the payment plan agreements to include a three percent (3%) on the total past due amount. This will satisfy the requirements of the state.


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