New chief Steven Taylor is sworn in on Jan. 21.

Steve Taylor, of Arkansas, sworn in last week for new Lynden job  

   LYNDEN ­— The main order of business of a short Jan. 21 City Council meeting was the swearing-in of a new police chief for Lynden.

  Steve Taylor, with his wife Leah looking on and also many police officers in attendance, spoke his oath of office administered by Mayor Scott Korthuis. 

  Taylor, coming from Searcy, Arkansas, then went around the semicircle of city councilors and department heads shaking their hands, as is custom.

  In brief remarks at the microphone, Taylor said he is not intending to “fix” anything about the Lynden Police Department since it is not “broken.”

  “I’ll do my level best to earn the trust that you have put in me,” he said.

  Taylor was introduced by Russ Martin, one of two in the department who has rotated as acting chief in recent months. Martin said the arrival of a new permanent chief represents the start of “a new era” for the police department even as Taylor passes his own milestone of 30 years in law enforcement right now. 

  He started in the 19th Street police building on Jan. 16.

  Upon the retirement of John Billester as chief last summer, veteran law officer Michael Knapp was available and stepped into the interim role until a new chief could be chosen. On the very evening, Nov. 5, that three finalists for the position were introduced at City Hall Annex, Knapp was fatally struck by a vehicle as he stepped outside onto Fourth Street into the settling darkness.

  Taylor, in the process of being chosen, came back from Arkansas again to attend Knapp’s Nov. 20 memorial service.

  According to his resume, Taylor, beside being a veteran law officer with experience in all aspects of police work, is a licensed attorney.

  He was in the Searcy Police Department from 2004, rising from officer to lieutenant, captain and then assistant police chief in the city of about 24,000. He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Arkansas in 2011 and his law degree in June 2015 through the Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute.

  In other action:

  • The council set the city’s 2020 property tax rate at nearly $1.69 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That is a decrease of about 11 cents from 2019. It will raise about $3.42 million.

  Already last fall as the total base valuation of the entire city was known, it was announced to have topped $2 billion for the first time. The growth of base value generally means a decrease in the rate. The city will take in 1 percent more in property tax revenue above last year.

  • For about half an hour, city department heads went through their quarterly update of work projects. 

  Of note, the Lynden Fire Department is looking toward adding a second floor on the north side of the Fourth Street building. A first step is to request qualifications from architects and engineers.

  Whether the Benson Park barn can be on a historic registry will be evaluated.

  City sales tax revenue in 2019 was up just slightly over 2018, although 2.3 percent under projection. Online sales of product are increasingly a factor.