North Bend council works on budget, sewer, bombs

North Bend City Council members approved a first draft of the 2011 city budget, moved forward on the sewer project being completed in the Tanner annexation, and discussed pipe bombs in a brief meeting Nov. 16.

That last item received some light-hearted treatment when Council Member Ross Loudenback asked Mark Toner, Chief of Police Services, to discuss an incident with an explosive Nov. 4 that was being widely reported in Seattle area newspapers, and to reassure the council that the city was not a "terrorist target."

Toner explained that the explosive was not a pipe bomb in the traditional sense, but was reported as such because the department has only two categories for disturbances of this type, fireworks or bombs. The bomb squad was investigating the remains of the device that exploded Nov. 4, but Toner assured the council "It's not as exciting as it sounds."

He continued to a topic that was more concerning. "We have had several of what we call 'Drano bombs' and these are of more interest to me ... they aren't stable and someone could lose a finger or other body part with one of them."

On a related note, Council Member Jeanne Petterson updated the council on the status of the police services contract with King County. She said the city was waiting for additional information from King County, but hoped to have it in time for the council's Nov. 30 study session.

Draft Budget

A first draft of the city's 2011 budget was reviewed and approved with one dissenting vote (Council Member Greg Garcia). Mayor Ken Hearing was pleased to report in his budget message that the budget include a 10 percent reserve amount in the general fund "with a significant safety net to protect against unusual revenue dips or unexpected expenses."

City Manager Duncan Wilson emphasized that the revenue and expense figures were estimates and "we're still trying to find a way to bring down the expenses."

Sewer Project

The $17 million project to extend the city's sewer system into the Tanner annexation is nearly complete and should be done by January, reported Public Works Director Ron Garrow. One of the final steps will be establishing the annual assessment to charge the property owners for their share of the cost of construction.

Garrow recommended the council approve a proposal by Allen Brackett Shedd Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants to develop the assessment rates. The council approved the contract for up to $62,400.

Their proposal includes setting the assessment for the 400 parcels in the project area, notifying the property owners and holding a public hearing on the assessments. The process is estimated to take three to four months.

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