Council won't ask Pasco about using taxes on public records requests

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldNovember 18, 2013 

Pasco residents will not be asked how they feel about their tax dollars being used for public records requests after the question failed Monday night to top the lists of a majority of council members.

The city's six councilmen in attendance had different ideas about what three questions should be on an upcoming community survey.

In the end, the regional aquatic facility and ambulance service to the area in west Pasco known as the "doughnut hole" made the cut, along with a last-minute addition about the Senior Center.

Mayor Pro-Tem Rebecca Francik was not at the meeting.

Pasco sends out the National Citizens Survey every two years with standard questions about the availability and quality of municipal services. The survey also can address up to three policy issues.

The deadline to approve the questions was Monday night. However, City Manager Gary Crutchfield said he will notify the coordinators one more week is needed to finalize them.

Since the Nov. 25 meeting is a workshop, the council actually won't vote on it, but will indicate if everything is good to move forward.

One question will cover the regional aquatic facility and the failed attempt in August to get Tri-City voters to approve a sales tax so it could be built in Pasco.

Residents will be asked if the Pasco Public Facility District should continue to work toward a large project to benefit the Tri-Cities, use its own resources to identify a small project for Pasco -- like a scaled-down water park or performing arts center -- or abandon efforts to consider future facilities.

Another question covers ambulance service that is provided by the Pasco Fire Department, under contract with Franklin Fire District 3, to county residents in the doughnut hole. Those residents don't pay the monthly ambulance utility fee of $6.25 that is required of Pasco residents, and the city wants to know should that charge be included in the contract since they're getting the same service.

And finally, Councilman Al Yenney suggested they ask citizens about the Senior Center on North Seventh Avenue and whether it should be re-purposed as a community center. The city puts about $250,000 toward the facility each year, yet it is under-utilized and needs to be maintained, he said.

Some of his colleagues agreed that issue should be looked into and added it to the question list.

Council members had been considering asking residents if there should be a restraint put in place to protect taxpayers from serial public records requesters. It wouldn't have resulted in a change since the city must follow state law, but could have directed city officials to talk with legislators about protecting citizens' wallets from being raided by people making "burdensome or harassing requests for huge volumes of nonspecific documents."

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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