Daily Archives: March 11, 2009

Group threatens to sue city over sewer plant funding

An attorney hired by a group calling itself the Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance sent a letter to the city today warning of “appropriate legal recourse” if the city approves bonds for a new Winslow sewer treatment plant.

The $15.5 million plant is drawing most of its funding from bonds and a trust fund loan covered by Winslow utility ratepayers.

Attorney Richard Stephens charges that the city failed to fully disclose its “dire financial situation.” Poor financial footing, according to Stephens, could dampen the city’s reputation, leading to higher interest rates, more stringent loan conditions and higher bills for ratepayers.

Stephens also asserts bond funding for the plant would violate city rules restricting capital facilities financing and that ratepayers were denied proper due process in the plant’s planning.

The letter was sent to the city hours before the City Council was scheduled to vote on approving the bond.

The council is slated to vote on the bond at 8 p.m. tonight.

Blogging about changing BI government

Mayoral candidate Bob Scales has launched a new blog focused on the island’s May 19 vote to change its form of government.

On the ballot will be the choice between establishing a new manager-led government or retaining the existing mayor-led form. In the manager form, the council chooses the city’s leader. In the mayor form, voters make the call.

Here’s what Scales has to say about his blog, Bainbridge Island – Form of Government:

“This will not be an easy decision to make. Each form of government has its own strengths and weaknesses. Neither form of government is inherently superior to the other. There are valid arguments that can be made both for and against each form of government.

In order for the voters to make a well informed decision in May, we need to begin talking about the issues now. We need to have public forums, community discussions and and an open debate in the press. It is essential that all of the relevant facts are made available to the voters so they can decide which type of government is best for Bainbridge Island.”

The blog contains fact sheets on form-of-government issues and an online venue to debate the pros and cons of mayor- and manager-led cities.

Council to debate new cuts to staff and community groups

The City Council is scheduled to discuss steeper revenue shortfalls than had been expected earlier this year. Some on the council want to focus new budget cuts at the staffing level, laying off as many as 30 employees. Others want to focus the cuts on the amount the city doles out to arts, social service and business nonprofits. Read my story here.

The council is expected to begin their workshop on city finances at 5:30 p.m. today. The regular council meeting begins at 7 p.m.