Port Orchard Going Green, Going it Alone

One of Port Orchard Mayor Lary’s Coppola’s goals for 2010 (see below) is a push to make the city more green. That’s green as in environmentally friendly, not as in planting more trees.

Coppola, in his video newsletter for February, echoed the thoughts all other local government leaders when he said, “In this day and age, it makes absolutely no sense from any standpoint for the city not to be green.”

Among Port Orchard’s green initiatives is a plan to do energy audits on all facilities, a practical but hardly novel idea.

Four other local governments — the cities of Bremerton, Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island and the Port of Bremerton — are taking advantage of federal stimulus money and a Puget Sound Energy program to reduce energy usage over three years.

The three cities (minus PO) and the port will hire a single employee for three years to study how each jurisdiction can save on energy costs. The program is projected to save 2 percent on energy usage during the first year and 5 percent during each of the next two. Total savings for the four agencies is expected to be around $278,000 in year three.

The Bremerton and Poulsbo city councils approved the agreement Wednesday. The Bainbridge Island City Council and the Port of Bremerton commissioners will consider the issue this week.

Port Orchard was invited to participate, but members of the City Council’s finance committee declined. The chief concern among finance committee members, Coppola told Kitsap Sun reporter Steve Gardner, was that the city would be on the hook to pay a permanent salary beyond the three-year program.

That’s characteristic of Port Orchard. City officials’ penchant for fiscal conservatism remains intact since the departure of long-time Treasurer Kris Tompkins, replaced on retirement by former assistant state treasurer Allan Martin.

Coppola, in the video, takes full advantage of comparing his city’s relatively sound finances (no lay-offs or furloughs to date) to those of Bremerton and Kitsap County.

Coppola, in his video address, said the city will be looking into other sources of PSE funding and stimulus grants for help implementing energy savings identified through internal audits.

Among Port Orchard’s other proposed green initiatives:

Reduce Paper Use
The city in its most recent utility bill mailing announced that customers can sign up for automatic withdrawal from checking or savings. For customers, it’s a matter of convenience, but it’s also a step on the city’s part toward conducting more business online. So far 51 utility customers have signed up. Coppola says if more people pay bills online, the city will save in postage, materials and ultimately staff time. The city treasurer’s office is also working to implement a separate program, in response to citizens’ requests, that will allow use of credit or debit cards for utility bill payment.

Coppola is also pushing for a move to online information packets for city council meetings. Each council member receives a packet for each of 38 meetings each year; that amounts to five reams, or 2,500 pages, of paper per meeting. Total paper used per year: 180 reams. It all adds up, said Coppola, who has suggested that computer terminals be placed at each council member’s seat so they could access materials online during meetings as well as from home.

My thoughts: Presumably paper copies of meeting packets and minutes would still be available on request to any member of the public who lacks computer access.

Hybrid Cars
The Port Orchard Police Chief has a hybrid. Coppola said that, as other vehicles come up for replacement, the city will look into getting hybrids.

Solar Power
The city, according to Coppola, will explore using solar power at pump stations and other “remote” facilities. Although “not a total solution,” it’s worth looking into , he said.

See below for a list of Mayor Lary Coppola’s goals for the city of Port Orchard in 2010
Here is the revised list of what I believe are reasonable benchmarks for 2010. There are a number of ambitious undertakings, but several are also items that should have been in place long before now, and are not.
Some of these goals are not really quantifiable, but others certainly are, while others are a continuation of work already underway. However, there are also some things (like the economy) that are out of my control, that can and will impact the timeliness of accomplishing some goals. But that doesn’t mean we can’t continue working towards fulfilling those goals in the second half of the year.

Disaster Recovery Plan
While the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) addresses many aspects of dealing with a community disaster, the City currently has no internal plan for dealing with a major disaster – natural or otherwise.
While we do back up our financial data and store it offsite on a daily basis, there are certainly more cost efficient ways of doing so. Currently, we have no established procedures in place for protecting other data such as our essential public records, duplicating and storing them offsite for retrieval, nor any established procedures for reconstructing them should something happen to City Hall. The same is true for the significant investments we have made in essential software, both financial and otherwise.
Also, there are no current plans in place for securing the facilities should a disaster befall City Hall, the Public Works Shop, or the Police Department, or for assuring all of our people are safe and accounted for should something like a major earthquake or worse, take place during working hours. There are no procedures outlining where employees are to report, and/or what they are to do after a disaster either, should the facility where they work be damaged or destroyed.
All of these and more need to be addressed in a comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan, so the City can continue to operate with an absolute minimum of interruption should some kind of disaster occur.

3-Year Action Plan
Develop a comprehensive, focused, written plan for where the City is going between now, 2013, and beyond. While the Comprehensive Plan addresses land use, zoning and code issues as well as many of the City’s amenities, we need to turn our focus on how we want our City to look, where new neighborhoods are appropriate, the types of businesses we want to attract, where we want them located, and formulate a strategy to attract them.
This will require great outreach to the citizens, and input from them. I propose as the first step, we hold an all-inclusive town hall meeting – perhaps on a Saturday so more people can attend – and ask what the citizens want to see our City become, and solicit their suggestions on how we get there.
The Action Plan will also include a marketing initiative aimed at developers who are interested in working in specific areas of the City, such as downtown, the industrial park, Sedgwick & Sidney, and the Bethel Corridor.
Marketing materials will need to be created for this initiative, and should all be electronic, not printed, so they can be tailored to exactly who we have targeted and/or are working with, and delivered on either thumb drives and/or CD’s or DVD’s.
We will also need to develop some detailed demographic information about our City as part of these materials. I believe the KEDA can be somewhat helpful here as could possibly the Chamber, VCB, and State Department of Commerce.

Lobbying Program
I believe we MUST figure out a way to hire a lobbyist in Olympia, as we are one of the very few Cities or Counties without one advocating for our interests. I suggest we look at this for the 2011 session of the legislature, since the State has made it abundantly clear there is no money available in 2010 for anything due to the projected budget deficit.
Until now, I have been doing this work, and find it enjoyable, but there has been somewhat of a procedural learning curve, as well as time that will be needed to establish the contacts and relationships other than our local legislators that are necessary for success in Olympia. If the Council wants me to continue acting in this capacity, I am happy to do it. However, it does require significant time out of the office during the legislative session and completion of some future projects and goals could be delayed for that reason.

Implement Additional Electronic Accounting Procedures
City Treasurer Allan Martin, at my direction, has visited with our accounting software vendor and found that the system we have in place has been drastically underutilized in terms of its capabilities.
One area that can be implemented with just some staff training will allow all Department Heads to have full access to their departmental budgets on an ongoing basis. As it stands now, they have to check with someone in the Finance Department to know the status of their budget before making decisions. These folks are literally running multi-million dollar businesses by the seat of their pants because they lack the necessary financial information to do their job in the best way possible. That’s crazy.
We have also begun to implement credit card billing and payments for utilities, and a myriad of other money-saving practices, simply by utilizing the software we already have to its fullest capacity. My goal would be to get all the procedures in place and staff training complete in 2010, and look to 2011 to upgrade the software to the most current version, which will add increased efficiency.

Major Green Initiative
In this day and age, it makes no sense from any standpoint for our City not to be green. There is taxpayer’s money to be saved and it will help our environment as well – a definite win-win. Here are some proposals for such an initiative.

Look for ways to cut energy and other costs at City Hall, as well as the Public Works Shop, Library and Active Club. The first step is a complete and comprehensive energy audit of all City-owned facilities. PSE will do this at no cost and has some grant programs available to help us implement the inevitable savings we will find. There may also be federal stimulus money available for some of this. Once we know what needs to be changed, what we can change, and have a cost for it, we can begin moving forward with a detailed action plan for implementation, be it changes in lighting, weatherization, and/or whatever else the audit finds.

Set goals for paper use reduction. Moving to electronic billing and credit and debit card payments, will save significant money on postage, paper and labor. Also, any and all records that can legally be stored as electronic files will be, saving money on paper and storage space.

Electronic Council Meeting packets. Instead of printing all the Council meeting packets, these can be sent via email in advance to each Council member. I’ve also proposed installing computer terminals at all the Council member seats on the dais so each Council member can access the packet electronically during the meeting.

Currently, the meeting packets consume an average of about 5 reams of paper — or 2,500 pages — per meeting (8 Council packets and 6 staff packets). Multiply that by 38 Council meetings a year — 26 regular Council meetings and 12 work study sessions, and it’s 180 reams a year — or 90,000 sheets of paper we can save.

Re-establish and reinforce the recycling program with City employees. While we do a good job of recycling paper, we need do to a better job on cans, bottles, plastics, etc.

Increase the amount of electronic communication between the City and its residents. Now that Council meetings are accessible online, it only makes sense to build a comprehensive electronic mailing list for communication of any and all issues from notification of land use actions, to electronic delivery of newsletters, to notification of Council meetings and work study sessions.

Hybrid Vehicles. As City vehicles come up for routine replacement, switch to hybrids when and wherever possible and practical. The police Chief is already driving a hybrid with no noticeable negative impact. Immediately coming to mind are the building inspector and code enforcement vehicles, and some of the smaller vehicles used by Public Works. We will also see full-size, American-built, hybrid pickup trucks on the market within the next 2-4 years. As we replace our current fleet of pickups, look to buy hybrids whenever possible and practical.

Explore the use of solar energy at pump stations and other remote facilities. I realize this is not a total solution, and will still require standard power. However, on a small scale, solar could be used even if just for lighting. This has the ability to cut our overall energy costs somewhat.

VoIP for City Hall Phones. Change from the myriad of telephonic vendors we currently use, to one source, at a seriously reduced rate from what we currently pay. Many major businesses and public agencies have already made this switch very successfully.

Resolve SKIA Issue. I wanted to give the new Port CEO time to get his arms around his new job, but I believe it is now time to bring this issue to head and secure a final solution to it than benefits the City. I have already broached this subject with Bremerton’s new Mayor, and she has assured me Port Orchard will find a different, more receptive and cooperative attitude about this than we have previously.

Conclude the Revenue Sharing Agreement. This is an ongoing issue, but one that also needs to be brought to a conclusion.

Establish A New Business Task Force.
This would include myself, representatives from the Chamber, POBSA, and an accountant. Our job would be to target specific businesses in Bremerton, Gig Harbor, and Poulsbo, as well as other places – the Kent Valley comes immediately to mind as a possible fertile field. Our mission would be to meet with business owners, and convince them why Port Orchard is better location than where they are now, and/or a great spot for a second location for their existing business. We need to look at all areas of the City, such as the Medical cluster on Tremont, the industrial park, as well as downtown and the other retail areas.
The Chamber and POBSA members would talk to them on a business-to-business owner level, I could run interference with any City departments as needed, and the accountant can make the business case in Black and White as to why Port Orchard would be a good move for them. I already have people from POBSA and the Chamber interested in this, as well as having an accountant on board.

Other Ongoing Projects…
• Continue aggressively pursuing funding and partnerships for the downtown parking garage
• Continue moving forward on the Tremont Gateway Project, and keep looking for additional funding through PSRC and KRCC
• Oversee the completion of the Master Plan for Sedgwick & Sidney
• Oversee the completion of the Land Use Code Updates and Critical Areas Ordinance
• Continue working closely with the owners of the marine-oriented business we have been involved with for the past year, and continue helping move all the processes forward for him to relocate his business to Port Orchard. I was very involved in helping get the sale of his current local company closed, and have been working closely with the KEDA and the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Assistance, in trying to put together a meeting of all the players – state, federal and tribal — he will need to satisfy to move forward. The plan is to get them all in one room at one time, so they all receive exactly the same information so we can deal with the shoreline mitigation that will be necessary for this project to move ahead.
I expect to have that meeting take place within 60 days of his consultant getting all the plans completed. The owner is also still in negotiations to buy the two adjacent properties. I’ve been the intermediary contact on this, as he understandably doesn’t want his identity or the purpose for the inquiry revealed at this time.
This project is a huge undertaking, but has a more than reasonable chance of success at this point. It will pay off in the long term by bringing a major new manufacturing plant to our City, at least 50 new, above-family wage jobs, as well as major sales tax revenue on an ongoing basis from the manufacturing materials and hardware, which will be purchased locally.

Finally, I was recently appointed as the Kitsap’s Cities representative to the PSRC Executive Committee. If nothing else, this will give me the “ear” of the final decision makers over there and can only help us. The time commitment for this is somewhat unclear as of now, and could also cut into the time allowed for some of the above projects, but I believe this will benefit us significantly, however in numerous ways that aren’t quantifiable at this point.

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