Another round of stimulus to businesses and nonprofits is planned

LYNDEN ­— Mayor Scott Korthuis gave a status report on the city’s 2020 budget at Monday’s City Council meeting. Despite impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city may end the year with many of its funds close to normal, he said.

“Revenues in all major funds are projected at year end to be at the amounts budgeted. We are moving forward with conservative optimism, but must keep in consideration that there are possible long-term economic impacts of COVID-19 that have not fully taken effect. The city may be required to adjust its revenue projections accordingly,” he read from prepared remarks.

Korthuis will also in the next month or so present his proposed 2021 budget.

Sales tax receipts were the area of most concern and are running about 5.3% under forecast for 2020. However, the strength of Lynden businesses combined with consistent online sales has kept sales tax revenues solid and “will allow us to stay close to forecast and finish the year only 5%-10% under budget” while other cities have struggled with a worse scenario, he said.  

Property taxes and utility taxes are on track to be on budget.

Some capital projects and purchases for departments were canceled or delayed, although these may now catch up by year’s end, the mayor said.

The city may spend up to $300,000, with some of that perhaps reimbursed by state Ecology, to buy a property at 1625 Main St. that has been an eyesore for years. It is also in the vicinity of the planned new Pepin Creek channel.

“It gives us some extra land to work with,” the mayor said. 

Korthuis said Lynden will cooperate with the county — $100,000 from each — on another round of stimulus payments to businesses and nonprofits, using the CARES Act money Congress appropriated. It was $651,150 in all for Lynden to disburse by Nov. 30 or else the money goes back to Washington state.

“I figure we might as well keep the money in our local economy,” he said.

The Whatcom County Health Department will pick up the ongoing cost of wastewater testing for COVID-19 in Lynden, Korthuis said, as more cities also indicate an interest in this technology. 

The provider is Exact Scientific (and about the process that was set up a while ago, and somewhere I had some results of that.)

The testing is being done at the city wastewater treatment plant and also at Lynden Christian Schools as the main place doing in-person instruction in town, and the results at the school have been “nothing so far,” the mayor said.

Councilor Gary Bode reported that parking will be reconfigured on Bluestem Street to deal with ongoing parking congestion problems there.

And the Public Works Committee will look closer “to be more realistic” about what the city’s parking requirements are in age-55-and-over developments.  

The city is willing to allow one of the parking spaces in front of The Inn at Lynden on Fifth Street be used by the inn for an electric car charging station.

Public Safety Committee chair Mark Wohlrab said plain-clothes police patrolling of the Rotary Sports Park has resulted in the charging of some “trouble-makers” there with malicious mischief.

The Lynden Police Department has not had a complaint of excessive use of force going back to at least 2010. That fact was revealed when the Bellingham Herald did a public-records request on the matter, city leaders said.

Mayor Korthuis said the Lynden city pool was opened Monday operated by the Let’s Pool Together leasing group. He said more than 400 people desire to use the pool, but the classes offered so far are full.

The mayor also said administration is working on a second contract to lease space in the recreational facility at 100 Drayton St.