Town hall meeting and other Monte city council notes

The Montesano City Council met Tuesday, Aug. 23.

A town hall meeting, focusing on Montesano’s economic development, will be held Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 6 p.m., before the next city council meeting. The Montesano City Council and mayor hope to hear people’s visions, ideas and plans for bringing money into the city’s coffers, during the Aug. 23 council meeting.

The purpose of the town hall, Montesano Mayor Vini Samuel said, is for the council to listen.

“We don’t get the opportunity to speak,” Samuel said. “We hear people’s ideas and — we’re hearing them. We’re not speaking. If we have enough people to talk for an hour, that’s substantial.”

Samuel said providing municipal services requires more and more money, with costs increasing every year by 3 percent — just to maintain the current level of services. And, said Samuel, the city hasn’t maintained income to go with it.

“One way or the other, we’re either going to get taxed or there needs to be more revenue created to allow alternative ways to get money,” Samuel said. She said maybe the city hadn’t taxed its citizens sufficiently, but hitting people with a big tax bill is a big ask.

At previous meetings, the city council discussed spurring Montesano’s economy with free Wi-Fi and a rest stop to bring in tourism and tourist dollars. If there is enough interest in the town hall, a second town hall may be held in October.

With budget season approaching, the council discussed current city staffing and service levels. Councilman Dan Wood said he needed to see financial projections before making a recommendation.

“Staffing levels flow from priorities in a strategic plan,” Wood said. “And priorities in a strategic plan depend on getting a broad degree of input from the community, for us to be able to make the plan.”

Councilmen Tyler Trimble and Ian Cope said public safety was a priority and keeping those departments staffed appropriately was a necessity. Councilman Chris Hutchings said the city needed to find a balance between hiring staff and doing the work.

“If you hire someone then maybe you don’t have the money to complete the work,” Hutchings said.

Also at the meeting, Samuel updated the City Council on several of the city’s current projects.

The dirt work on the new soccer fields began at Beacon Park on Aug. 22, said Samuel. Irrigation has been ordered and delivered. The U-19 (19 years old and under) field is expected to be completed next spring. Eventually, the goal is to have a complete park with concession stands, grandstands, bathrooms lights and trails.

Samuel said the city’s free Wi-Fi system will be tested in the next few weeks.

Paving has been completed at the Wynooche Cemetery, and Samuel said more would be done each year in the reworking of the cemetery.

In order to be able for the rest stop idea to move forward, the Council members approved a conceptual plan drawing at a cost of $2,000. The drawing, to be completed by architect firm Street, Lundgren &Foster, will be used to “pitch the idea” to the state.

A proposed $3,000 exploratory phase, where the architecture firm would investigate the feasibility of the rest stop with businesses, council members and the Department of Transportation, was not approved by the city council.