Mayor Tim Fletcher, city administration, and staff members updated on the State of the City at the Feb. 1 Forks Chamber of Commerce business meeting.
Rod Fleck, city attorney/planner stepped in and gave some of the financial data as current clerk-treasurer Audrey Grafstrom was not available.
Fleck said, “The city is usually on a two-year audit schedule but COVID-19 assistance funds put us over the threshold, triggering an additional audit; the 2023 audit will be done by the State Auditor’s office.”
Some statistics shared by Fleck, concealed pistol licenses for 2022 were down from 156 in 2021 to 126. Single-family home builds were down from 11 for 2020 and nine for 2021 to six for 2022.
Real estate tax was also down just a bit from 2021 at $52,209 but that is still double what it had been in 2020.
Fleck said the city’s interaction with FEMA since the flooding in November 2021 has been an adventure, involving meetings, and multiple forms, “Some projects remain on the list to complete that involve engineering or specific equipment,” Fleck shared. Some work also needs to be coordinated with WDFW and with consultation with Quileute Natural Resources.
City of Forks sales tax receipts were $873,743 and have continued to go up as has the city lodging tax receipts which are the highest ever at $427,688.
Fleck continued with the Public works data as Public works director Paul Hampton was also unavailable. The public works department has a staff of nine.
The water department continues to work to eliminate water leaks; repairing more than 26 in 2022. Nine of the repaired leaks were over 100,000 gallons each and two were over 1,000,000. A leak detection company was hired to help locate the leaks in the system. The department also purchased detection equipment of its own.
New water meters and transmitters continue to be installed resulting in more accurate readings and quicker meter readings for the department. Older galvanized water lines also continue to be replaced.
In 2021 the city council approved $1,023,500 of American Rescue plan act funds to be used for wastewater treatment plant improvements. In January 2022 Clallam County Commissioners approved additional Opportunity funds of $2,375,610. The city continues to move forward with projects. The biggest project is Clarifier #2 which is currently being engineered.
Dan Wahlgren, Treatment Plant Operator, said that Steven Gaydeski continues to train with Wahlgren as Dan will someday retire. Wahlgren said another item on his wishlist would be a generator that automatically goes online during a power outage. The current unit requires that someone go to the site and plug the old unit in.
Potholes and other duties keeping streets in good shape and finding leaks have been improved with the purchase of several pieces of equipment. An asphalt trailer and a Vac trailer are new to the department. A grant funded crack sealing of city streets last year. Engineering is in process for the Bogachiel Way overlay project.
Culverts and ditches damaged in the November 2021 flood event have been replaced or repaired and the Elk Creek water conveyance and others drainage have been repaired. Wahlgren added that the Vac trailer has really saved time.
Community partners such as the Lions Club, Soroptimist, Allen Trust, and more improvements continue at Tillicum Park. Improvements to the Ben dome, new courts, and playground equipment have recently been added. The city council approved the use of Hotel/Motel funds to resurface the ballfields. The project will go out for bid in 2023. The park restrooms will also get a makeover in 2023.
District Court II
Clallam County District Court II continues to maintain a presence at Forks city hall Judge Bruce Hanify presiding. The court processes DUIs, assaults, reckless driving, and disorderly conduct. Mental health and drug issues continue to be an issue.
Forks Police Chief Mike Rowley shared the state of his department saying, “2022 was a rough year.” “With changes in legislation, being short-staffed, it has been interesting.”
‘My goal is for you to feel safe in your community, Rowley said. “Our crime is mostly just a few people, when they are in jail crime goes down …when they are out …crime goes up.” In statistics for 2022 burglaries, theft, vehicle prowls and DV were up and DUI’s were down. While several new officers have been added, the department still needs one more officer and three corrections positions need to be filled. COVID greatly affected the corrections facility with a reduction in outside contract holds which has affected the income. Some upgrades include digitizing records, a new commissary system, a video visitation phone system, security cameras, and more of them. LIVE inmate fingerprinting, allows direct connection to Washington state and the FBI.
Mayor Tim Fetcher wrapped up the presentation by saying the city continues to work with the DNR for access to natural resources. The need for housing continues as well as improvement in our infrastructure. The world has discovered the beauty of our area, if and when tourism declines we need to have other things to look to, to sustain our community.