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San Juan County Environmental Stewardship Dept developing climate resiliency plan

LWVSJ Observer Corps* summary of San Juan County Council March 26, 2024  meeting.

Council member Fuller was an excused absence being in Washington DC. During public access time Economic Development Council Director Victoria Compton thanked the council for their support and for the $65k in core funding restored in the budget. 

The Council approved delaying the closing on 545 Park Street if parking, access, and utility easements were not finalized in the deed by March 28. They will have a special session to approve accepting the amended deed, if needed. The Council reviewed the three upcoming budget amendments. The first amendment will update the beginning cash balances with final 2023 numbers. The second amendment will add expenditure for the Department of Community Development, the Sheriff’s Office and Motor Pool totaling $1.25 million. The third will add supplemental revenue of $1.17 million. A public hearing was set for April 16. The county budget analysts did the annual review of internal controls with the Council. 

The Environmental Stewardship Department updated the Council on climate resiliency planning. They received a grant from the State Department of Ecology to fund writing a new required climate element for the Comprehensive Plan and developing a Climate Action Plan. A draft framework for the planning process is under internal review. The framework lays out a communication and public engagement plan to use the best science, surveys, focus groups, and listen with openness to varying opinions. 

The leases for the SJI transfer station and the solid waste haulage contract expire April 20. The County has been negotiating with the town on the transfer station lease renewal and cooperating on a forward plan for managing the site, but the town notified the county it will not approve the lease renewal until the issue of water use at the fairgrounds is resolved, so that may be delayed. The County will renew the Lautenbach haulage contract on schedule. 

The Council approved $45k to the three family resource centers for emergency rental assistance and approved using some affordable housing funds to reimburse the resource centers for additional rental assistance as needed. The Council approved $109k for the senior and disabled rental subsidy program. Rental assistance needs have grown recently. 

The Land Bank presented its strategic plan. The top priorities are environmental protection including water, agricultural land preservation and low intensity recreation. Major strategies are focused on communication, increased community participation, land acquisition in line with the strategy and operational goals including strengthening tribal relationships and climate resiliency. Biochar projects and a possible basalt dust pilot project are examples. 

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.

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