PUD boundaries, new commissioners discussed

With a proposal to bring power service on Whidbey Island under public ownership, the Island County Commissioners will consider the district’s boundaries and formally call for an election during a public hearing Aug. 4.

The commissioners approved the public hearing date during their Monday morning meeting. It is scheduled to begin at 10:15 a.m. in the commissioners’ hearing room in the Courthouse Annex Building in Coupeville.

The public hearing will allow residents to comment on the proposed boundaries of the Public Utility District, which encompasses Whidbey Island. Camano Island is currently served by the Snohomish County Public Utility District.

Dave Jamieson, chief civil deputy prosecuting attorney, said the Aug. 4 hearing won’t include a debate on the merits of the proposal, just on the proposed district boundaries.

Commissioner Mac McDowell asked whether the new district can offer other services in addition to power.

Jamieson said the proposed utility couldn’t offer a service already provided. He gave an example of water and sewer service provided by the town of Coupeville.

The commissioners could choose to reduce the boundaries of the proposed district.

Once the hearing is complete, Jamieson said the auditor’s office will hold a special filing period to find commissioners to serve the utility district. Three commissioners are needed to serve what would eventually become six-year terms. During the first term, the commissioner earning the most votes would serve six years, the commissioner with the second most votes would serve four years and the commissioner earning the fewest would serve two years.

The Island County Department of Planning and Community Development created three commissioner districts for the proposed PUD. The districts are divided to have similar population. The first district is Whidbey Island north of the Oak Harbor city limits; the second district goes from Oak Harbor through San de Fuca and south of Coupeville and down to Crockett Lake; and the third goes from Coupeville to the south end of Whidbey Island.

Should voters reject the public utility district proposal in the November election, then the commissioner election would become null and void, Jamieson said.

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