Councilors hear progress on 2019 work plan

LYNDEN ­— City employees will be able to give up as many as 24 hours of their vacation time this year to enable a police officer to do a second round of Coast Guard reserve duty.

The City Council on Monday, July 15, approved a one-time “shared vacation bank” benefiting officer Matt Thompson. His union also agreed.

Thompson is away from his regular job and family in July and August with the Coast Guard as part of a “public safety ‘wave,’” according to a resolution passed by the council. He had already put in 20 days of training, as normal for a reserve, earlier this year.

He will keep two weeks of his own vacation time for family needs and the birth of a child.

The city by policy allows up to 21 days of paid military leave, but this was extra unexpected duty with the Coast Guard.

The time bank will be capped at 200 hours. All city employees can participate. 

The whole effort is similar to a shared sick-leave program in a workplace that can help employees in extraordinary sickness events.

In other action:

  • The full council listened for about half an hour as City Administrator Mike Martin and four department heads recapped what has been done in the 2019 city work plan that arose out of a City Council retreat held in April.

They reported on things as varied as security training, financial software, fire department public safety and education classes, planning for the Benson Road park property, and participating in a buildable lands inventory.

These areas are not necessarily “what we do the most,” Martin said, as regular service is delivered, but they represent what is being gradually pursued and not forgotten.

The reporting includes the initiative or activity itself, strategies to do it, who is the lead person responsible, what progress has been made, and any updates or modifications of the goal.

  • The city’s line of credit with Banner Bank is extended to July 31, 2020, at a rate of 3.75 percent interest. The ceiling is $1.85 million.

Interim financing has been gained from the line of credit for water, street and police department projects, often until reimbursement money comes through. Currently, the Pepin Creek project, Riverview Road and a Jim Kaemingk Sr. trail extension are in the mix.

  • Village Drive residents Brian and Polly Rae spoke in support of the city’s plan to finally punch North 17th Street through to Main Street as a connector, something that was planned back in 1999, they noted.

They hope it will mean Village Drive is no longer treated as an arterial, and they offered ideas as to how the city can determine traffic patterns in the area for the future.

  • The Lynden Police Department under interim chief Michael Knapp will have a review of its administration and operations done through the Loaned Executive Management Assistance Program.

Councilors said this amounts to “very low-cost consultants” and is something done beneficially “all over the state” to gain a benchmark on a police department’s functioning.

  • Sales tax revenue continues to be very good for Lynden in 2019, councilor Gerald Kuiken reported, more than $240,000 just for the month of June, above budget and the  “banner year” of 2018, he said.