Daily Archives: March 12, 2009

City officially sets May 19 for change-of-government vote

The City Council set May 19 as the date for a special election that will decide whether Bainbridge will retain an elected mayor as its leader or opt for a manager hired by the City Council.

The state recently altered elections rules to allow change-of-government votes on months other than November. Petitioners had collected over 1,000 signatures from Bainbridge voters to earn the measure’s place on a ballot.

The council on Wednesday also approved up to $75,000 to pay for the special election. The cost will likely be split with the Bainbridge School District, which is seeking approval of a capital bond also on May 19th.

If approved, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy would become an eighth city councilor until her mayoral term expires at the end of the year. City Administrator Mark Dombroski would then take the city’s helm as the new city manager.

Former city councilman Bob Scales is the only candidate currently running for mayor. Kordonowy said today that she remains undecided about seeking reelection. She will make her decision before the May election, she said.

Sewer plant upgrade moves forward, despite legal threats

Below is my coverage of last night’s council action on bond funding for the Winslow sewer plant upgrade. The council’s narrow approval came hours after an utility ratepayer group threatened legal action to block bond funding.

Despite the threat of a lawsuit, the City Council on Wednesday narrowly approved the first step in issuing a bond to pay for a $15.5 million upgrade of the Winslow sewer treatment plant.

The council, by a vote of four to three, approved a line of credit to set the bond process in motion. On March 25, the council is scheduled to vote on the bond’s final approval.

Hours before the vote, the city received a letter from an attorney hired by the Bainbridge Ratepayers Alliance warning of “appropriate legal recourse” if the city approves the bonds.

Attorney Richard Stephens, who did not return calls for comment, charges in the letter that the city failed to fully disclose its “dire financial situation” as it developed its bond proposal. 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.

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More state parks on the closure list

Chris Dunagan reports in today’s Sun that the state plans to close a few more nearby parks, including Illahee State Park in Bremerton and Fort Flagler State Park on Marrowstone Island near Port Townsend. People would be allowed to enter the parks, but gates and restrooms would be locked and utilities would be shut off. The state would encourage volunteer groups to maintain the parks.

The state announced late last year that it may close Fay Bainbridge, Fort Ward and 11 other state parks to cut costs. The state has offered to transfer ownership of the 13 parks to local jurisdictions. Bainbridge park district officials have said they’re willing and able to take Fay and Fort Ward.

Illahee, Fort Flagler and 31 other parks would likely stay under state ownership and may reopen if funding becomes available. The parks’ vehicle entrances would

Island distillery bottling organic spirits soon

I’ve been sworn to secrecy about the name and location, but a group of islanders are putting the finishing touches on Bainbridge’s first (legitimate) distillery since the pioneering days. The above photo’s from their not-yet-ready Website.

In true Bainbridge style, the new distillery’s spirits will be organic and may make use of ingredients grown on island farms.

Gin and vodka are slated for bottling before summer. Batches of whiskey and rum are expected in about a year.

I’ll have more in the coming weeks as the distillery get closer to opening.

You know you’re from Bainbridge when…

Kitsap Sun copy editor, island native and true-crime novelist Jim Thomsen has stumbled upon the one true test of a real-deal islander.

While leafing through the online pages of Facebook, Jim found a 2007 Bainbridge High School grad has posted the definitive “You Know You’re From Bainbridge When ….” list. I should warn you, the list is long, and contains references to at least one illegal use of an apple, but hey, that’s life on “the Rock.”

Here goes….

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Bainbridge city councilman enters the blogosphere

Councilman Barry Peters has a new blog at www.bainbridgevoter.wordpress.com.

Peters has already written a handful of posts about city finances, Bainbridge green buildings and the Winslow Way reconstruction project.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Have you seen the stories and editorials about the City Council being consumed in 2008 by 4-to-3 votes? See, for example, the Bainbridge Review’s end-of-year news recap (12/31, p.1).

I think that’s a misconception, so I spent many hours logging every vote taken during the 43 Council meetings (out of 49 in 2008) for which I could find meeting Minutes. I ignored the “Consent Agenda” (which tend to be small noncontroversial matters) and procedural votes, unless they were controversial or significant.

Mostly 4-3? Not by a mile. It turns out that two-thirds of the Council’s 255 significant votes in 2008 were unanimous.”

Between $3-6 million in city budget cuts loom

Look below for my story on last night’s City Council endorsement of a giant reduction in city spending. Staff cuts are a sure thing, according the administration.

The City Council aimed for the ballpark rather than the bulls-eye when endorsing a dollar amount that will guide a new round of budget cuts.

Somewhere between $3-6 million in reductions loom ahead, making it a near certainty that several city employees and services will have to go.

“It’s hard, but history does show we’ve been overly optimistic,” said Councilwoman Debbie Vancil, referring to recent budget reductions the city’s been forced to make as revenues spiraled downward.

The city’s new financial outlook is based on worst-case scenario projections provided by City Administrator Mark Dombroski last week.

While Dombroski predicted the city may see shortfalls of $2.4 million in tax-based revenues and about $1 million in other areas, some councilors wanted to prepare for even greater losses.

Councilman Bill Knobloch proposed the biggest cuts, arguing that the city should cut $7 million from the budget to keep the city’s finances solid and put over $2 million in reserve.

Some city staff expressed confusion about how to factor in the wide ranging $3-6 million
amount as they look at how to make reductions.

Steering clear of multiple reduction scenarios, Dombroski said he’ll present to the council next Wednesday a detailed breakdown – “from staff to supplies” – of how much each of the departments spend. From there, the council can determine where to make cuts.

“I want to avoid a tennis game where I lob up numbers and sped the next two months going back and forth with the council while the economy continues to deteriorate,” Dombroski said.

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