With the meeting room almost filled to capacity the vote of the 2014 budgets has drawn more attention than in the past, with the current PUD project to establish power into Tokeland and the public being vocal about how the commissioners have handled the project.
Commissioner of District 1, Mike Swanson, asked for public input prior to the voting of the first budget resolution, No. 1341, the proposed budget for the Pacific County PUD Electrical Department. This budget has specific interest, as it is the one that highlights $13 million for of work for an 115kV transmission line along SR105 into Tokeland and construction of a substation.
Presented to the commissioners a petition of up to 15Tokeland business’ and 100 Tokeland residents in support of the project was provided by Tokeland resident Terry Larson. Supporting Larson and the Tokeland project other residents of the area quickly spoke out to the advantages of efficient power that the project would provide.
Raymond resident Steve Sheay took opposition to the lack of permitting process that has yet to be seen and went on record that more work needed to be done prior to the approval of the budget. A small back and forth between opposing sides almost got out of hand when PUD Commissioner President, Diana Thompson, quelled the gathered crowd advising that the meeting was not a debate and that only questions addressed to the commission would be allowed.
Sheay was able to follow up with a question about a letter that was provided to the PUD board in a previous meeting, from the Concerned PUD#2 Ratepayers, (the letter was printed in the Nov. 27, Willapa Harbor Herald) and asked if the board had looked into the letter and the legal impact it may have after Resolution No. 1341 was approved.
General Manager, Doug Miller felt that the letter had no impact on the decision in approving the budget at this time, as the budget is to only serve as a guideline and President Thompson further commented that the approval of the budget was only for the purpose to “get things rolling” and that if permits were required the process would prove this out.
The vote was called for with both District 2 and 3 Commissioners voting to approve and District 1 Commissioner voting against approval. The resolution passed 2-1.
The remainder of the water department budgets were quickly called up and voted on with unanimous approval for Bay Center, LeBam and Wilson Point.
With 2014 operating budgets now approved, the PUD will set to work the outlined projects described within and move forward with keeping the lights and water on within the boundaries of Pacific County.
The next PUD Commissioners meeting to be held at Long Beach Dec. 24.