Editor’s Note: This is Part 3 of a three part in-paper Enumclaw mayoral debate between Jan Molinaro and Kim Lauk. Both are first time candidates for mayor. The incumbent, Mayor Liz Reynolds, chose not to seek a third term. Lauk and Molinaro are current members of the City Council. Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.
Week 2, Question 1
The city of Buckley has welcomed the marijuana industry and seen a financial benefit. Bonney Lake is considering allowing retail sellers. Enumclaw has, through zoning, prohibited such establishments. Is it time for a change?
MOLINARO: I wish to address the possible medical uses for marijuana. Research into the benefits of using marijuana for medical treatment continues with organizations such as the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health. Scientists are conducting clinical trials with marijuana and have found that 2 ingredients of this substance, sometimes in pill form, can be beneficial in treating diseases that affect the immune system, pain and inflammation as well some mental disorders. Additionally two FDA-approved medications have been approved for the reduction of nausea and increasing the appetite. Marijuana has been used in other countries in clinical trials for childhood epilepsy, but to date nothing has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They require extensive testing on humans to determine what medical benefits marijuana may have.
Week 2, Question 2
During the annual budget process, the City Council traditionally provides money to agencies that serve the public, but are not part of city government. Is this good policy, or should the city use taxpayer money only for city functions?
LAUK: During last weeks answers, my opponent agreed with me that there are worthy groups in town that aid those in need and that the city should, when able, assist these groups. They have an immediate positive impact throughout our community.
Every time a dollar of tax payer money is spent, the citizens should see a product or an impact that benefits them. However, I believe that it was not fiscally responsible for my opponent to bring forward the motion to give $40,000 for advertising to an outside agency that does not provide services to Enumclaw citizens. Additionally, there is no accurate accounting of money going out with this group. This was nothing more than a gift of public funds, and our citizens may never see any benefit from this action.
Molinaro: Let me provide facts to the approval of the marketing money to the Expo Center which was “the outside agency”. Printed in the February 13, 2017 council agenda, accessible through the city website, are the minutes from the January 23, 2017 City Council meeting where the $40,000 marketing funds were discussed. On page 13, I quote from the minutes, “Molinaro stated that the reporting model agreed to was a monthly presentation to the Economic Development Committee on what was done with the funding in the previous month.” In the very next section titled Council Action, I again quote from the minutes, “Lauk stated she was pleased to hear there would be monthly reporting…”. So with the perceived reporting concerns aside, the council passed the $40,000 marketing money for the Enumclaw Expo Center 6-0. Not one council member voted ‘no’, contrary to what was mentioned in last week’s debate. Morgan Irwin’s council seat was still vacant at the time of this vote.
A full accounting on the use of these funds is presented at our council meetings. Almost every presentation since receiving the $40,000 marketing funds, the Expo President has, in front of council and the public, described how that money was spent and what events it promoted.
And finally Resolution 1582 that provided this money is signed by the Expo Center representatives and allows for the city to audit all financial records of the Expo Center. Accountability for city funds is in a legal document and standard practice when any funding is provided by the city.
WEEK 3, QUESTION 1
How will the city be able to pay for and provide core services? What are those services? It always come down to money, paying the bills. Where will the revenue sources come from to pay for services and amenities.
LAUK: The core services of the city can be summed up as your day to day operations that make our city function; water, sewer, garbage, gas, streets, and public safety. It is the city’s duty to make sure that these services are functioning to the best of their ability and that they are using taxpayer dollars efficiently and effectively.
As mayor of Enumclaw I would continue my “facts first” approach to the budget that I have had during my time on council. Being an effective leader means that you must be able to take a tough stance, and several budget items act as stark contrast between my opponent and I in this aspect.
In the name of being fiscally responsible I opposed the $40,000 to an outside agency with no checks and balances to protect taxpayer money. My opponent supported it.
I have advocated to continue the storm water discussion so that we can start moving forward on a solution for this long overdue issue. We stand at a crossroads. One option is increasing property tax to citizens, which would leave no room for capital improvements and continue to send storm water through our wastewater plant which is shortening the life span of the facility. OR, stop siphoning money from our streets funds and create a storm water utility which would more evenly distribute the cost between residents and business owners making it fair and equitable for everyone.
To ignore this topic is not an option, we are required by law to address this issue and we cannot keep using Band-Aids or moving money through irresponsible shell games and pretend it does not exist. The over budget waste water treatment facility was a fiasco that drove up sewer rates, we must find a solution for our storm water or we run the risk of repeating history and passing the burden on to the residents. This is an issue that my opponent and others have continued to neglect.
MOLINARO: Core services are many. These include our police department, which must remain strong for our citizens’ safety, maintenance of streets and sidewalks and providing the processing of permits and business licenses. Properly maintaining our city parks will benefit our children and adults. Our Public Works Department has many responsibilities. They are charged with proper operation of sewer and water systems and the availability of natural gas as well as safe delivery to each of our homes. Collection of trash at our local businesses and residents should continue to be kept efficient so it is uninterrupted and cost effective for the Enumclaw citizen.
Funding for these core services are provided through the city’s general fund. Property taxes, sales taxes and utility taxes are the main source of revenue supplying this fund. The city does receive some additional sources of revenue through development activity, liquor taxes, our jail, and our local court system.
If you are elected as mayor of Enumclaw describe your vision of the city and how the government can and should serve its citizens.
MOLINARO: I envision an Enumclaw that continues to honor the past, live in the present and prepare for the future.
I honor the past by reflecting on the 105 years of accomplishments that has helped to define the Enumclaw we live in today. Knowing and understanding our own history is important when making future decisions that will ultimately steer the direction of this community.
I live in the present by allowing Enumclaw to continue to be a place for families and businesses to prosper. Our community deserves a stable infrastructure, robust business market, reasonable tax rates and proper maintenance. Let’s keep Enumclaw as one of the lowest tax rate cities in the state of Washington which allows our citizens to keep more money in their pocket.
I will prepare for the future by creating a reliable infrastructure that will not only help Enumclaw’s residents, but also those that are looking to explore our great city and region. Enumclaw is a fantastic place to live and I intend on overseeing a city government that will put its citizens’ needs first.
My wife and I chose to make our home in Enumclaw 24 years ago. It reminded us of where we grew up and wanted the same small town atmosphere to raise our children.
LAUK: We need better regional participation and partnerships. Our transportation needs on the Plateau are crucial. This issue affects our residents quality of life, our first responders ability to get lifesaving services to you during emergencies, and access to local businesses, which are the backbone of our community.
My opponent has stated that “Enumclaw is an island”, that we are “self-sufficient”, and in the realm of geography, he is correct. But we rely heavily on neighboring communities to make up our work force and many people here have jobs off the Plateau.
When we are planning and looking to the future, we must view our issues and the issues of our neighboring communities, and tackle them with a regional outlook. It would be irresponsible of our city government to think that we can do this on our own. We must start thinking and planning with the entire Plateau in mind, this is key when it comes to development where infrastructure comes first. This is the only way for Enumclaw to be sustainable and efficient as we plan for our future.
Let’s take a moment and look back at the founding days of Enumclaw when we were known fondly for our innovate cooperatives. As stated in a 1914 article in The Ranch, “It is doubtful that there is a community in the United States so imbued with the uplifting spirit of co-operation as the farmers in and about the town of Enumclaw.” We must embrace the strengths of our founders and get back to our roots of excellent communication and willingness to work together, not just within our own city but with our neighboring communities as well.