Letter may be sent to Inslee urging business reopening
LYNDEN — The city is for now calculating about a $410,000 sales tax hit on the 2020 budget from COVID-19, and already making adjustments.
At least two vacant Public Works positions will not be immediately filled, summer parks help may be on hold, and some vehicles and equipment will not be purchased, Mayor Scott Korthuis said Monday in a quick summary of what trims are planned.
And councilor Gary Bode warned that the full impact has not been felt yet upon the city’s budget, and could climb to many dollars more.
Bode, whose furniture store is an example of retail suffering heavily under Gov. Inslee’s Stay Home order, also was a voice in favor of preparing a letter from the city to the governor.
“He’s got to know things aren’t going well (economically),” Bode said. “We can’t let this destroy our community. We will have nothing left. We have to take a risk.”
The idea came up as Korthuis noted that the cities of Marysville and Burlington have written letters of their situations of economic hardship to Inslee.
It was agreed that a draft letter will be prepared, and circulated among City Council members, in readiness for whether some business will be allowed to restart on June 1 in a “phase two” of Inslee’s reopening scheme.
Several cautioned not to inject politics, and councilor Mark Wohlrab, a firefighter/first responder, said he has seen up close how coronavirus affects people and the health threat must be taken seriously.
Polls show a high fear of a flare-up of the disease, and “there’s both sides (of opinion) in our city,” Wohlrab said.
Brent Lenssen suggested that at some point in the reopening the Lynden councilors walk and talk with business operators across town to get their “creative suggestions” on help toward recovery.
Also at the remote meeting by phone and video link:
• At Korthuis’s invitation, Chuck Prosper, chief executive officer of PeaceHealth Northwest, talked about how the St. Joseph Medical Center of Bellingham did prepare, in terms of supplies, space and staffing, for the COVID-19 virus before it fully struck.
Prosper said there were supply-chain shortages of personal protective equipment for all medical providers across the nation, and St. Joseph had to “protect and conserve” what it had to get through with enough.
He said the early suppression measures of the state, plus the cooperation of front-line clinics, helped keep COVID-19 in check locally, not overwhelming the hospital, and now St. Joseph has gone several days without a coronavirus patient in care and is getting back more to normal operation.
Screening “at the front door” of all entrants to the hospital ensures it will be a safe place for the full range of health care, Prosper said.
* A public hearing is set for June 1 on the city’s six-year transportation plan for years 2021 to 2026. However, due to not meeting physically, comment must be submitted to the city by email (see www.lyndenwa.org/public-works-projects) by that date.
Elimination of the Foxtail Street gap in east Lynden tops the list for $525,000 in 2021.
Elements of so-called Pepin Creek Lite in the vicinity of Main Street and Double Ditch Road — stream relocation, an east-west connector and a new bridge and approaches — are slated for design in 2021.
In fact, many associated Pepin Creek, Pine Street and Benson Road work projects make the list.
The long-delayed extension of North17th Street through to Main is projected to be mostly completed this year.
• Developing a city 2021 budget will get going in the next month with six-year capital project plans from departments as the first step.