The Dalles City Council covered a lot of ground in last night’s meeting, the first in a month due to the holiday season. Councilors unanimously approved a $65,000 expenditure to contract with a consultant on obtaining accreditation for the city’s police department. Chief Tom Worthy told councilors why the accreditation is valuable and that funds were provided from the federal government:
“It’s outside evaluators coming in to take a look at our practices, our policies, our training, our procedures, the way that we run our operation. This is all funded and supported through a federal COPS grant through the Department of Justice, with no match to the city, so it’s spending federal money for its intended purpose.”
Chief Worthy noted that many police departments in the state have chosen to go through this process, in an effort to make the departments more accountable and efficient.
There were a couple of split votes on the council last night. Councilor Dan Richardson was a lone “no” vote on a decision by the city to loan $750,000 to Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue jointly with Wasco County. The request came because the district will have increased responsibilities in covering the two new proposed Google data centers, particularly during their construction. Richardson said he felt the city was moving too quickly and wanted more specifics from the fire district on how the money would be spent.
And by a 3 to 2 vote councilors approved only a three percent increase in local garbage fees, rejecting a request by Waste Management for a five point oh five percent increase. Mayor Rich Mays tallied the votes:
“I’m getting McGlothin and Runyon opposed to the motion and Long, Randall and Richardson – is that correct? – voted for it.”
And that was correct. The proposal originally came before the council in December, but Councilor Darcy Long said that she hadn’t received enough information about the company’s profits to know whether the proposed five point oh five percent was justified. And she based her reduced increase on information provided by the company:
“A three percent increase would be over $100,000 in income to Waste Management. If we gave them the five point zero percent, that would be over $175,000 increase in just one year, and I just wanted to bring that to people’s attention.”
That three percent increase was retroactive to January 1.
Councilors also discussed the concept of selling the state office building, which the city owns and gets monthly rent from the state. The lease is coming up for renewal and the state’s Department of Administrative Services says it’s willing to increase the rent it pays, but will no longer allow the city to pass on any costs for building improvements, such as the $140,000 for a new generator last year. City staff explored the option of selling the building and land, which has been appraised at just under $5 million, but councilors asked for more information, and the item will come up at a future meeting.