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Mattawa approves City Hall improvement funding application

by GABRIEL DAVIS
Staff Writer | January 23, 2024 5:17 PM

MATTAWA — The Mattawa City Council approved the city’s most recent comprehensive plan and periodic update and a legislative appropriations application for improvements to Mattawa City Hall during Monday’s regular meeting. 

Gray & Osborne Engineer Jamin Ankney introduced the appropriations application, indicating some funding avenues had closed or not been successful, but other funding rounds are coming up that may help fund improvements for the city’s administration building.

“In our conversations with city staff, the thought was, we did an evaluation of city hall and the city hall options and what the city's path forward would be for that, and ultimately, the idea came about that city hall improvements or a new city hall building would be a great candidate for a legislative appropriation,” Ankney said.

Ankney said that application might be more successful than others. 

“Legislative appropriation requests for water and sewer projects, they will oftentimes refer you back to (Department of Ecology) and (Department of Health) funding and say, ‘We already have funding programs for this, go ask them. Tell us why this is different. If not, go ask them for money.’ But city hall funding is not as easy to find,” Ankney said. “The programs aren't there and it's ultimately more complicated because you don't have a revenue source. With water and sewer systems, you're selling that service and then using that to pay for improvements. With city hall, it's more complex. And so the idea in front of you is to proceed with a legislative appropriation request for city hall upgrades based on the preliminary costs that we did as part of our evaluation a couple of months ago.”

The money would go to the city in the form of a grant, Ankney said.

“There's not a lot of risk here, or downside. The initial application is pretty easy to put in. It's not a significant effort either,” Ankney said. “And then it's ultimately how involved the city wants to get in terms of recruiting and talking to legislators and selling this project to them.”

Ankney said the council needs to decide whether to move forward with the application and how much to contribute to the project to show legislators that the city is committed. 

“I won't make it sound like this is a sure thing at all; it's kind of a long shot,” he said. “But if you were to get this money, it would be kind of a home run for city hall improvements.”

Ankney suggested budgeting $50,000 of the city’s capital improvement fund instead of the planned $20,000 toward the project — money that was already set aside for city hall improvements. 

“$50,000 works for me,” Council member Fabiola Hernandez said. “Because if you say $20,000 they're gonna be like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

The council voted unanimously to approve the appropriations application and to budget $50,000 for the city’s contribution to the project. 

Earlier in the meeting, SCJ Alliance Contract Planner Rachelle Bradley introduced the 2024 comprehensive plan and periodic update for approval by the council. According to the plan, the update included significant changes to the comprehensive plan, an overhaul of policy framework, an overhaul of land use, housing, transportation and capital facilities and utilities elements and updated population projections and demographics. 

“So the benefit of having all these things in here is it's going to set you up for additional funding,” Bradley said. “You will be in compliance with the Department of Commerce and that'll get you set up for your (Department of Ecology) funding. And it's a really big moment, I think for the city, that's been a long way coming.”

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com. Download the Columbia Basin Herald app on iOS and Android.

    Gray & Osborne Engineer Jamin Ankney, middle, discusses water infrastructure improvements at a George City Council meeting in July. Gray & Osborne also provide contract engineering services to the city of Mattawa, with Ankney discussing legislative appropriations funding with the Mattawa City Council during Thursday’s regular meeting.