By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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County commissioners unanimously approved the contract supplement with the state Department of Transportation on Tuesday. The money comes from the county’s allotment of federal transportation funds.
The revised cost to build the paved trail on Fairholm Hill is $813,601, which includes a $114,161 match from the county. The initial estimate was $611,185.
“We made a fairly low estimate of what this project would cost so we had that much money allocated to it,” Clallam County Transportation Program Manager Rich James said.
“We completed the design and had fancier bridges than the initial estimate had in it, and it has a lot more excavation.”
The new segment will take cyclists, hikers, runners, horseback riders and in-line skaters over the top of Fairholm Hill to a crossing of U.S. Highway 101 west of the hill.
The segment already is under construction and should be completed by next year, James said.
A paved Olympic Discovery Trail eventually will connect Port Townsend to LaPush.
In other action from Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners voted 3-0 to renew a contract with the city of Sequim to process misdemeanor crimes and traffic infractions in Clallam County District Court.
The county will bill the city $63,687 in 2013. The cost was derived from a three-year rolling average of the number of District Court cases that originate in Sequim.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Jim McEntire reported that “some clarity was achieved” at a Thursday workshop hosted by the state Department of Ecology on the newly implemented Dungeness Valley water-management rule.
Took effect Jan. 2
Ecology officials tried to outline the process for obtaining water-mitigation credits, which had not been determined when the rule took effect Jan. 2.
Rural property owners in much of the east county from Bagley Creek to Sequim Bay will have to spend an additional $1,000 on a water-mitigation certificate to drill a new well to water their lawns.
“There’s still some clarity left to be achieved, in my view,” McEntire said.
“I think there’s a lot of work left to do, but I’m convinced in my own mind that we can substantially achieve water mitigation, in fact, for use of water in any and all circumstances for substantially all, if not all, of the entire territory that the water rule covers.”
Earlier Tuesday, County Administrator Jim Jones was the guest speaker for the Port Angeles Business Association’s breakfast meeting at Joshua’s Restaurant in Port Angeles.
Jones said the bulk of his presentation centered on the challenges faced by all counties to pay for law and justice services.
“The burden now falls much more heavily on the counties than the revenue sources to support it,” Jones said.
“While the state has no money either, and the cities are all strapped, the problem is going to be when some small county has a murder trial that costs them [$1.5 million] to $2 million to prosecute and defend — have to do both sides, as you know — and it causes them to go into bankruptcy because they don’t have the reserves.
“The state’s going to be stuck with solving the problem then, for that county, and it won’t be pretty,” Jones added.
“Eventually, we’ve got to solve the problem.”
Clallam County has no debt and entered the year with a $10.1 million reserve.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.