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County policy cuts town short

The Coupeville Town Council had to cut a lengthy agenda short because of a cost-cutting measure enacted by Island County.

Island County officials directed that meetings in the Annex Building have to wrap up by 9 p.m. to save on staff and utility costs.

Because the town holds its council meetings in the Annex, the council was not able to get through its agenda earlier this month.

The agenda included a presentation about a stormwater management implementation plan and numerous discussion topics ranging from curbside recycling to the chamber’s Visitor Information Center.

Mayor Nancy Conard said she learned of the reduced hours a week and a half prior to the July 14 meeting, but didn’t change the agenda. The bulk of the items didn’t need council action. Officials tried to wrap up the meeting by 8:45 p.m. so staff could clean up and be out of the building by the deadline.

Conard announced the situation at the start of the meeting and prioritized certain items. In the end the council heard a presentation about the stormwater plan, appointed someone to the tourism board, signed off on support for the visitor center move, and scheduled a meeting for design guidelines.

Cash-strapped Island County is trying to cut utility costs as part of an effort to save $70,000 at the county campus in Coupeville. At the Annex, officials have been taking measures such as turning off the boiler earlier, setting the thermostat lower and asking staff to turn off computers and take any personal electronic devices home.

Carla Waite, office manager for the county Facilities Department, said that limiting the time county rooms can be used for public meetings is a trial measure that could be altered and the 9 p.m. deadline can be adjusted. However, she said the town of Coupeville is the only agency that has had trouble meeting the deadline.

Conard said that town staff will meet with county officials to see about adjusting the deadline or maybe even talk about paying for extra time to use the Commissioners’ Hearing Room after 9 p.m.

Island County and Coupeville generally have a good relationship. Conard said the town uses the Commissioners’ Hearing Room free of charge for meetings and in return county officials use the Coupeville Rec Hall for meetings.

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