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San Juan County Council presented with proposal of new govt. buildings

LWVSJ Observer Corps*summary of County Council February 5-6, 2024 meeting

On February 5, Architects Miller-Hull presented a preliminary proposal showing possible size, footprint and fit of potential new and renovated buildings to deal with serious structural and safety issues of current buildings, centralize services, and provide space for staff to serve a growing community with purpose-built buildings that meet modern code standards.

Three main components would be a Justice and Public Safety Building, an administrative office building, and a renovation of the historic courthouse. They will provide cost estimates in two weeks.  The Council may decide to go forward with some or all elements of the plan.  More detailed design concepts would require public input before development.  The sites of existing buildings potentially could be redeveloped for workforce housing.  

The Orcas Recycling Center updated the Council on their operations, which have had a major shift toward more recycling and less landfill. They will continue the trend with a new bailing machine and perhaps community composting. They will do a large solar installation in 2024. They seek Council approval of increased hauling rates, with rates falling to zero for separated glass and cardboard.

On February 6, several citizens spoke in favor of selling a Conservation Easement on Cady Mountain to the Preservation Trust, which the Council then approved. The Council approved an ordinance to amend personnel policy on vacation allocation. The Council approved an amendment to the County Manager’s contract to bring it in line with personnel policy.  

The Northwest Clean Air Agency gave a presentation to the county about its services overseeing state and federal clean air rules. San Juan County was a founding member, left in the early 1980s, and now is exploring rejoining as air quality issues are demanding more county staff time. The annual cost would be about $36-40k, and more cost effective than adding staff to manage this in-house. The Council asked staff to draft a letter to the agency expressing interest in rejoining.

Molly Foote gave a budget update on the 2023 budget closed on January 23. With the final numbers in, there is an additional $785k available to allocate in the 2024-2025 budget. The budget team will prepare a list for the Council of items cut from that budget to meet limits and critical items still needing funding including the Critical Areas Ordinance update. 

The Council approved a project extension for the Fisherman’s Bay sewer district. The Council approved signing on to a letter drafted by the Puget Sound Regional Council in support of the Governor’s budget request for Washington state ferries.   


 *The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.

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