The latest news from February Whatcom County Council meetings and the first meeting in March.
Healthy Children’s Fund implementation plan
In its March 7 meeting, council voted 7-0 to keep a resolution adopting the Healthy Children’s Fund two-year implementation plan in public hearing until its March 21 meeting.
The fund’s property tax measure, which Whatcom County voters narrowly approved as Proposition 5 in the November 2022 election, is estimated to raise approximately $9.98 million each year for 10 years, for investments in early learning and care and vulnerable families. Whatcom County Health and Community Services (WCHCS), which will serve as the fund administrator, was tasked with developing and overseeing the implementation plan.
The plan will use 64 percent of its program funds, or $12.8 million over the two years, for affordable, high-quality, professional and accessible early learning and care experiences in six priority investment areas. Another 27 percent of the funds, about $5.4 million, will be used to support vulnerable children and families, particularly around mental and behavioral health and reducing child and family homelessness.
“The Healthy Children’s Fund offers a rare opportunity to make targeted, science-based investments that support our youngest residents, which will ultimately benefit our workforce and economy, our social service and criminal justice systems, and the very fabric of our community,” the memorandum reads. “As the fund administrator, WCHCS recognizes both the generosity of voters to support children and families, and their explicit expectation that the programs and services supported by the fund be effective.”
December 2022 storms housing assistance
Council authorized, in a 7-0 vote, a $360,000 contract with Whatcom Long Term Recovery Group, also known as Whatcom Strong, to provide support for disaster case management and housing assistance to households impacted by the December 2022 storms.
The contract is funded through the Washington Military Department, according to the memorandum. Whatcom County Individual Assistance program has an active caseload of approximately 100 individuals and households in need of assistance.
Motel rooms for families with children
Council amended, in a 7-0 vote, a $573,000 contract with nonprofit organization Lydia Place to fund motel rooms for families with children who would otherwise experience unsheltered homelessness. The amendment adds $172,000 to the original contract to accommodate for the increased cost of motel rooms.
The contract provides year-round funding for motel rooms to be used as needed, according to the memorandum. A portion of the funds will be used to provide support services to help those families leave motel rooms for permanent, stable housing.
The total contract period is from October 1, 2020 to December 31, 2023 and exceeds $1.6 million.
Birch Bay Drive and Birch Point Road stop signs
Council approved, in a 7-0 vote, an ordinance to install two stop signs at the intersection of Birch Bay Drive and Birch Point Road. The vote came after a public hearing during the February 21 meeting.
Birch Bay libray project letter of support
Council approved, in a 7-0 vote, a request to send a letter of support for the proposed Birch Bay library project’s $2.6 million revised scope to Washington state senator Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville).
The revised scope for the project plans for a library express with a smaller addition than the initial $6.5 million renovation. The library express plans include a first-floor renovation with full site improvements, additional parking spaces, a book return, signage and an ADA accessible entrance.
The letter was also addressed to state senators Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) and Sharon Shewmake (D-Bellingham) and state representatives Alicia Rule (D-Blaine) and Joe Timmons (D-Bellingham).
Whatcom Housing Alliance
Council authorized, in a 7-0 vote, a $200,000 contract with Bellingham nonprofit Sustainable Connections to support its Whatcom Housing Alliance (WHA) for two years.
WHA is a coalition of over 40 community organizations working to improve access to affordable housing in Whatcom County, according to the memorandum. It is comprised of nonprofits, city and county officials, economic development groups, public health agencies and environmental organizations to develop solutions for housing.
WHA will provide quarterly summary reports that include strategies and priorities. A final report will be presented to county council.
Watershed and salmon recovery planning
Council authorized, in a 7-0 vote, a $12,250 contract with the University of Washington School of Health Sciences for it to provide assistance with watershed and salmon recovery planning. The university will give technical assistance for an investigation into instream flow information and hydrologic updates.
This is the first phase of the Water Resource Inventory Area 1 watershed management plan and will develop a scope that outlines the work necessary to complete a technical study, according to the memorandum. The contract is funded through 2023 budget authority under public works’ natural resource division budget.
More information on the project can be found on its website at wria1project.whatcomcounty.org.
BBWARM advisory appointment
Council appointed Jane Olson Mauk, in a 7-0 vote, to the Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management (BBWARM) advisory committee during its February 7 meeting.
Mauk was the president of Portland-Ulsan Sister City Association, a volunteer-run nonprofit that promotes friendship, goodwill and cultural exchange between the people of Portland, Oregon and Ulsan, South Korea, according to the organization’s website. Mauk grew up in Whatcom County and graduated from Western Washington University in 1980, according to her application. Mauk wrote she served as a volunteer for BBWARM and that her family is third-generation dairy farmers in the Sumas area.
The BBWARM advisory committee assists and makes recommendations to the Flood Control Zone District board of supervisors regarding implementing the BBWARM District stormwater program. It’s a four-year committee seat.
Bicycle pedestrian advisory appointment
Council reappointed Patrick Alesse, in a 7-0 vote, to the Whatcom County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
Alesse is a retired teacher and co-owner of The C Shop. He’s served on the committee since 2019.
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