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County Council

Posted on: May 16, 2023

Council Meeting Review: May 16, 2023

Council meeting review

This meeting included information about staffing considerations, forest health updates, the Argyle Lots Affordable Housing project, and more.

This document is a review of the County Council meeting, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. Information related to agenda changes, Consent Agenda, and Public Comment are on the County website. For additional information about what was discussed, please refer to the recording.  


1.Financial Items: The Auditor’s Office requests approval for warrants issues the weeks of April 17, 2023 and May 1, 2023.

2.Miscellaneous: Resolution 14-2023 Waiving Competitive Bidding Requirements for Restoration Work at the Historic Fairgrounds Pioneer Cabin at the San Juan County Fairgrounds.




  1. To consider adopting an Ordinance Revising the San Juan County 2023 Budget for Beginning Cash Emergency Appropriations: Amending SJCC Ordinances 16-2021 and 21-2022.
  2. To consider adopting an Ordinance Revising the San Juan County 2023 Budget for Emergency Appropriations; Amending SJCC Ordinances; 16-2021, 21-2022, _ -2023
  3. To consider adopting an Ordinance Revising the San Juan County 2023 Budget for Supplemental Appropriations, amending SJCC Ordinances, 16-2021, 21-2022, __-2023, and __-2023.

The 2022-2023 San Juan County Budget was adopted in Ordinance 16-221 on December 7, 2021. During the mid-biennium review, the 2023 budget was amended in Ordinance 21-2021 on December 6, 2022. The second amendment to the 2023 budget is comprised of three ordinances (Beginning Cash Balances, Emergency Appropriations, and Supplemental Appropriations).

The budget amendment requests were initially reviewed with San Juan County Council on April 18, 2023 and May 2, 2023. 

The Council voted to adopt and approve the three ordinances amending beginning cash balances, emergency appropriations and supplemental appropriations.

PRESENTATION: 1/10th of 1% for art sales tax, Manny Cawaling – Inspire Washington

The presentation from Inspire Washington centered around the opportunity for San Juan County to join the cultural access program to support the cultural sector, including science and technology, heritage, and the arts. 

Cultural access is a publicly funded program that expands community access to cultural programs in science, heritage, and the arts. Created by the state legislature in 2015, this program provides taxing authority to cities and counties for 7 years. With the approved 0.1% increased sate or property tax, the program expands cultural education activities for public school students at both school and cultural facilities, including transportation. It provides sustainable funding for not-for-profit science, heritage, and arts organizations. 

Based on 2021 sales tax collection, a cultural access program would generate $756,000 per year in San Juan County. 

DISCUSSION / ACTION: County Clerk/Superior Court Clerk Staffing –Lisa Henderson –County Clerk

San Juan County Clerk Lisa Henderson presented an emergency staffing request to Council. She requested an additional employee and increased compensation to reflect the positions’ duties. 

The Council voted to approve the emergency staffing request from the County Clerk’s Office that will be included in the upcoming budget amendment.

DISCUSSION: Forest Health Updates, Paul Andersson –San Juan Island Conservation District.

The San Juan Islands Conservation District works with public, private, and tribal partners to pursue forest health and wildfire mitigation improvements countywide. This discussion included a presentation of the current activities underway, highlighting several factors that may be limiting progress and would benefit from further collaboration between the County, Conservation District, and strategic partners. A summary of forestry-related initiatives includes: 

1. Landscape Scale Restoration/Conservation (e.g. Garry Oak Habitat, Land Use Tax Classifications)

2. Forestry Cost Share Projects

3. Forest Management Planning and Education

4. Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) and Hazard Planning

5. Workforce Development

6. Woody Biomass Utilization

7. Research

Andersson recommended continued collaboration between SJC council, staff, and committees in improving forest health and wildfire mitigation countywide, specifically pertaining to Community Wildfire Protection Plan, Open Space Taxation programs, and optimizing use of excess woody biomass.

DISCUSSION/ACTION: Miller Hull Scope of Work (SOW) –Building / Remodel Proposal, Mike Thomas -County Manger and Greg Sawyer -Facilities Manager

San Juan County has long pursued the dream of building a new civic building to replace its collection of age old re-purposed buildings.  The County came close to cancelling a new building designed by Miller Hull in 2019, but for a number of reasons, decided to put the project on hold.   

A recent FEMA-funded seismic study of the courthouse revealed major structural issues with the original courthouse and its poorly constructed additions. In addition to structural deficiencies, the courthouse additions have other issues such as water penetration of the brick.  These revelations kicked off a renewed discussion about what to do. Staff re-engaged Miller Hull in a "what if" discussion. The scope of work (SOW) presents several alternative pathways to a new building and a remodeled courthouse. 

During the meeting, staff walked the Council through the scope of work. 

Council voted to authorize the County Manager to execute a contract with Miller Hull for work as proposed in the scope of work.  

DISCUSSION/ACTION: Argyle Lots & Home Trust –lease agreement parameters, Ryan Page–Affordable Housing Coordinator.

Staff appeared at this meeting at the request of Council to discuss priorities for lease negotiations with the San Juan Home Trust for the Argyle Lot project.

DISCUSSION/ACTION: Housing Fund Recommendations, Ryan Page –Affordable Housing Coordinator.

Ryan Page presented to Council regarding the current status of the Home Fund budget and facilitated a discussion of whether or not to hold a funding round in 2023 for the Home Fund program.

Staff recommended foregoing a funding round in 2023 and holding a smaller process only for Home Fund grant awardees of 2022. 

The Council decided to follow the staff recommendation of foregoing funding rounds in 2023 and hold a smaller process only for Home Fund grant awardees of 2022.  

Staff will solicit information from 2022 Home Fund grant recipients regarding the current statuses of their projects in order to establish funding priorities for those projects.

DISCUSSION / ACTION: 1/10thSales Tax Affordable Housing Actions, Mark Tompkins, Director of Health &Community Services and Ryan Page –Affordable Housing Coordinator.

This was a follow-up discussion to the March 21 Council Meeting. As a first step to continuing planning efforts around the potential adoption of a 1/10th of 1% Sales Tax for affordable housing, staff is presenting three staffing model options for Council consideration to manage these potential program funds.

Option 1:      Shift a portion of the Housing Program Coordinator workload to other existing department staff.  For example, reassign a portion of the administrative functions (accounts payable, accounts receivable) to the HCS admin/fiscal team.   

Option 2:  Limit and/or stop submitting state housing grant applications (CDBG, CHIP, etc..).

Option 3:       Hire a new staff person and assign a portion of the Housing Program Coordinator tasks to the position.  Proposal would be to hire a full-time Office Manager (1 FTE) to assume all administrative functions (accounts payable, accounts receivable, contract routing and management, advisory committee agendas and minutes) of the affordable housing program and to manage the Health & Community Service (HCS) admin/fiscal team.  Currently the 5-person HCS admin/fiscal team is supervised by the Environmental Health Director/Deputy Director.  

Council urged staff to proceed with option three which favors hiring new staff.  

DISCUSSION/ACTION: Organics Recycling Center Implementation Plan, Katie Fleming -Solid Waste Coordinator.

The County's Environmental Stewardship Department has developed an Organics Recycling Implementation Plan to identify where and how the Islands could divert yard and food waste from the waste stream. This work of the Solid Waste Program will help reduce our carbon footprint, align with WA State mandates to divert organic waste, and find viable reuse of the finished compost on Island.

Fiscal impact is dependent on the timing and phasing of activities and agreements with service providers.  Capital investments are on the order of $2 million dollars for San Juan and Orcas combined.

Council voted to approve the Environmental Stewardship’s advanced budgeting and implementation of organics recycling as outlined in this approved Organics Recycling Implementation Plan.

DISCUSISON/ACTION: Request to schedule a public hearing for June 6,2023 regarding a OPALCO/Rock Island communication easement, necessary for internet services at 25 Calle Aguila, Lopez Island, Colin Huntemer –Director of Public Works.

Orcas Power and Light Cooperative (“OPALCO”) provides power and communication services in the County and requires that the County grant an easement for these services.

San Juan County currently has power services from OPALCO at 25 Calle Aguila Lopez Island without easements. Changes are being made at this location to add fiber optic for communication services.  OPALCO requires the County to grant easements to make this change.

County Code contains procedures for the sale of real property generally at SJCC 2.104.050 and SJCC 2.104.070. These procedures have been applied to the granting of the proposed easements.

As required by SJCC 2.104.070, a duly noticed public hearing regarding the direct sale of the utility easements is being hearing regarding the direct sale of the utility easements.

The values of the proposed easements are nominal and the benefits to the County of the utility easement are adequate consideration for the grant of the easement.

Council voted to schedule a public hearing on June 6, 2023 regarding the direct sale of utility easements. 


Manager Update: Mike Thomas, County Manager 

  • The Land Bank is interviewing consultants to lead the development of a strategic plan.
  • Union negotiations are ongoing.
  • The Land Bank has also updated their process for property acquisitions.  

Council Clerk Update: Sally Rogers, Clerk

Review Agendas & Council Calendar Items: 

Next scheduled Council meetings; Monday, May 22nd, Tuesday meetings; June 6th, June 13th (Away meeting on Orcas Island) and June 27th.

Advisory Committee Appointments/ Reappointments: 

The following are the Fair Board re-appointments and appointments, two expired terms and vacancies.

  • The Council voted to re-appoint both Josephine Bangs and Jennifer Rigg to the Fair Board.
  • The Council voted to appoint Lynette Cabrera, Rebecca Shanks, Justin Plats, Milene Henley, and Kevin Roth to the Fair Board. 



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