Coal Creek Utility District approves building sale

March 5, 2015

Coal Creek Utility District commissioners unanimously approved a deal Feb. 25 to sell its former operations building to the city of Newcastle.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will pay the district $250,000 for the 129th Avenue Southeast building appraised at about $740,000. In addition, the city will agree not to assume the utility for the next 10 years.

The deal has been surrounded by controversy since the Newcastle City Council first approved it in a 4-3 vote Sept. 16. Council members approved it again, by the same vote, Jan. 20.

CCUD Commissioners Pam Martin, Ric Anderson and Doug Kunkel approved the deal after holding a required public hearing on the subject Feb. 11. Read more

City Council approves controversial building buy

February 6, 2015

The Newcastle City Council officially authorized City Manager Rob Wyman to go ahead with the controversial purchase of a Coal Creek Utility District-owned building at the Jan. 20 regular meeting.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will pay $250,000 for the 129th Avenue Southeast building appraised at about $750,000. In addition, the city will agree not to assume the utility for the next 10 years.

The purchase has been surrounded by controversy since the council first approved it in a 4-3 vote Sept. 16. Deputy Mayor John Drescher, Councilman Gordon Bisset and Councilman Rich Crispo voted against the deal then, and did it again Jan. 20.

Former and current council members alike have raised questions about the agreement’s legality, feasibility and the logic behind giving up the city’s right to take over the district for the next decade. Read more

Editorial — Building agreement doesn’t pass the test

February 6, 2015

The Newcastle City Council agreed to spend $250,000 on a building it could get for free.

Let us repeat that — $250,000 of taxpayer funds spent on a maintenance operations building that could be had for nothing, well, mostly nothing.

It doesn’t make much sense, does it?

But that’s what the council narrowly agreed to with the recent 4-3 approval of the purchase-sale agreement to acquire a Coal Creek Utility District-owned building.

Sure, on the surface, it looks like a good deal — “I only have to pay $250,000 for a $750,000 building? What a steal!” — but more and more, this agreement is starting to feel like an iceberg. It’s what’s underneath the water that you should be worried about. Read more

Council approves CCUD building purchase

January 21, 2015

UPDATED — 1:20 p.m. Jan. 22, 2015

The Newcastle City Council officially authorized City Manager Rob Wyman to go ahead with the controversial purchase of a Coal Creek Utility District-owned building at Tuesday’s regular meeting.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will pay $250,000 for the 129th Avenue Southeast building appraised at about $750,000. In addition, the city will agree not to assume the utility for the next 10 years.

The building would serve as a place to store and work on the city’s public works vehicles, which are currently parked at City Hall. It could also potentially house a future Newcastle history museum, Mayor Steve Buri said.

It again came down to a 4-3 vote, with Deputy Mayor John Drescher, Councilman Gordon Bisset and Councilman Rich Crispo dissenting. Read more

Meet City Council candidates Oct. 8

September 23, 2013

NEW — 12:55 p.m. Sept. 23, 2013

Newcastle residents will have the opportunity to interact with current and future City Councilmembers at an informal meet-and-greet Oct. 8.

John Drescher and Mark Greene will compete to fill the seat that will be vacated by retiring City Councilman Bill Erxleben. Incumbents John Dulcich and Rich Crispo will both run unopposed to retain their positions. All are expected to be in attendance at the October event.

There is no formal program for the no-host event held at The Golf Club at Newcastle’s Wooly Toad Lounge. The event goes from 5:30-8 p.m.

RSVP to John Jensen at John@JensenRoofing.com so The Golf Club at Newcastle can have a rough head count. Learn more about the city’s only contested race here.

Election will bring change to City Council makeup

May 2, 2013

The Newcastle City Council will have at least one new face in 2014.

Councilman Bill Erxleben announced that he will not file for re-election this spring, guaranteeing that there will be one open seat during November’s election. Two other sitting council members could be challenged as well.

“I believe that two terms is enough for any council member,” Erxleben wrote in a letter to the editor.

Erxleben was first appointed to the Newcastle City Council in 2002. He was elected to the council in 2003. After a few years away from local government, he was elected to the council again in 2009.

In addition to Erxleben, Mayor Rich Crispo and Councilman John Dulcich will see their current terms expire at the end of 2013. Both Crispo and Dulcich have announced plans to file for re-election. Read more

Council approves purchase of maintenance equipment, before state grant expires

May 2, 2013

With just a few months before a state Department of Ecology grant expires, the Newcastle City Council authorized the Public Works Department to use the funds to purchase a $100,000 piece of equipment that will benefit the city’s storm water management.

The trailer-mounted hydro-excavator will be used for quick response to spills and storm pipe cleaning, though Public Works Director Mark Rigos admitted he was not sure how often the city would use it.

“Honestly, I look at this as kind of a nice-to-have, not a requirement,” he said. “I do have some concerns on how much, honestly, we’re going to use this equipment. If this was solely coming out of Newcastle coffers, I would not bring this to you.” Read more

More than 100 attend annual town hall meeting

November 2, 2012

NEW — 10:40 a.m. Nov. 2, 2012

About 115 residents armed with electronic voting clickers responded to real-time poll questions at the annual town hall meeting held Oct. 29 at The Golf Club at Newcastle.

City Manager Rob Wyman presented information about the 2013 preliminary budget and future development in the city, while Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine offered information on community safety, crime prevention and Newcastle police staffing levels.

With the electronic voting devices, residents had the opportunity to offer their feedback about the city’s performance. Read more

City takes on water issues with action plan

May 31, 2012

Maintenance of stormwater facilities desperately lacking, report finds

After the Newcastle City Council charged Public Works Director Mark Rigos with the task of creating a comprehensive action plan for the city’s stormwater facilities and maintenance last fall, he discovered three things to report this spring — the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

The city has fallen behind on myriad aspects of stormwater-related facilities and upkeep, and an aggressive, but adequate, action plan must be put into place to increase maintenance and coordinate inspection records, Rigos told the council at a May 1 study session.

The proposed surface water action plan was based on five studies financed by the city in 2001, 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2010.

“There’s quite a bit of information there, but not all if it is getting done in the field,” Rigos said.

Before the work, the city was unsure of who owned which facilities, including storm drainage detention ponds, and as of this year, there are now four to five times more flow control and water treatment systems to maintain than when Newcastle became incorporated in 1994.

Read more

City staff post-employment restrictions tightened

June 3, 2011

The City Council voted May 3 to create a new section of city code that — in some circumstances — restricts former city employees from working for companies with which they negotiated, supervised or approved contracts during their city employment.

If the employee takes a job at such a company, he or she would face a $10,000 fine for violating any of four restrictions.

According to the new code:

First, for one year after leaving the city, an employee cannot accept a job with a company if he or she approved large contracts for that company and would work on the same project as he or she did at the city. The contracts are considered large if they total more than $100,000 during the employee’s last two years at the city.

Second, an employee cannot have a financial interest in any contract that he or she played a role in negotiating, supervising or awarding while working at the city.

Third, an employee cannot accept a job offer from a company if he or she knows or has reason to believe the offer has been made as compensation for his or her work while working at the city.

Read more