Richland to add about 16 acres of open land to inventory

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldDecember 19, 2012 

Richland will add almost 16 acres of open land to its inventory of city property.

The Richland City Council on Tuesday accepted developer Milo Bauder's offer to hand over the land as open space. The vote was unanimous.

The city doesn't have to pay for the land, although it will lose some property tax revenue by taking it off the rolls.

The loss is estimated to be $510 annually, according to information provided to the council.

Councilman Terry Christensen called the acceptance "a very wise thing," noting that "$500 from the property tax base is minuscule."

The 15.72 acres are between Bauder's Falconcrest development on the ridge of Little Badger Mountain and Meadow Hills Drive.

The city owns about a dozen acres of open space next to the property.

A master plan for the city parks, trails and open space "calls for the extension of a pedestrian trail from the top of Little Badger to Amon Creek, as part of a larger trail system. The proposed dedication would give the city ownership of an important property that could serve as a link in this future trail connection," according to a memo from city staff.

Staff said drawbacks could include increased liability for the city and pressure to spend money to build a trail across the property.

Also Tuesday:

w The council approved giving City Manager Cindy Johnson a 2.5 percent raise and paying her an $8,500 incentive reward for her good work. The vote was unanimous, with council members praising Johnson's leadership and advocacy for Benton County's second-largest city.

Councilwoman Sandra Kent mentioned teamwork, integrity and collaboration. Councilman Phillip Lemley said the council's action wasn't about money, but rewarding Johnson's efforts and accomplishments.

Johnson has been Richland's chief executive for about five years.

After the meeting, she said she was grateful to the council, adding the city's success is due to teamwork of staff, the council, citizens and the city's partners.

Johnson's annual salary is about $147,000.

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