Port Angeles works on continuing relief assistance

Demand for programs has increased in recent weeks

PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles is doing what it can to support residents and businesses affected by COVID-19, City Manager Nathan West said.

The city had received a “great response” for its utility relief and rental assistance programs, which were offered to those who are struggling to pay the bills, West told the City Council on Tuesday.

“We know that there’s always more to do,” West said. “We are continuing to fight for community members in Port Angeles to get additional funding dedicated to those relief programs so that ultimately we can do more.”

The City Council voted April 7 to provide $300,000 in financial assistance for utility customers and renters during the COVID-19 crisis.

The city also has waived interest on accounts receivable and Parking Business Improvement Area (PBIA) fees for the second quarter of the year.

As of April 30, the city had provided $36,455 in utility relief to 130 residents, 79 businesses and one nonprofit, West said in a memo to the council.

Forty-four customers had received a combined $28,100 in rental assistance.

Demand for the programs has increased in recent weeks, West said.

Community members can make donations that will be applied to the accounts of those in financial need.

Applications for COVID-19 financial assistance and donation forms are available on the city’s website, www.cityofpa.us.

Meanwhile, the City Council approved Tuesday a $199,319 professional services agreement with KPFF Consulting Engineers of Tacoma to help design a decant facility.

A decant facility is a large concrete pad where stormwater and other waste is separated for disposal.

The city received a $474,300 grant from the state Department of Ecology to design and construct a new decant facility.

“This project will help prevent pollutants such as suspended sediment, heavy metals, nutrients, and trash from entering Port Angeles Harbor and the Salish Sea,” Thomas Hunter, Public Works and Utilities director, said in a council memo.

The new facility will serve municipal stormwater, solid waste, wastewater and water utilities.

“Each utility generates separate and unique decant waste, which will require separate decant bays for de-watering and storage,” Hunter said.

“The newly-constructed facility will feature a covered decant area dedicated to street sweeper and vactor truck decant activities.”

KPFF was determined to be the most qualified of five bidders, Hunter said. No local firms responded to the request for qualifications, Hunter said.

The existing decant facility at the Port Angeles Regional Transfer Station is “more like a patch of ground that we have used to dispose of various different soils,” Hunter told the City Council.

“Right now, we don’t have the ability to cover our contaminated soils,” Hunter said.

The new facility will ensure that the city is in compliance with environmental regulations for years to come, Hunter said.

“It’s a really exciting project, but this is the first phase,” he added.

The council also passed separate motions to include verbal public comment at its May 19 meeting and to direct staff to enable regular public participation at virtual meetings.

“I think it’s extremely important for people to have their voices heard, especially during this time,” Council member Brendan Meyer said.

Public comment had been accepted in written form for virtual meetings. Council business has been restricted to items deemed “necessary and routine” or pertinent to COVID-19 under Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order.

“I’m quite confident that we will be able to accommodate (verbal comment) at the next meeting,” West said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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