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MacNichols departs Snoqualmie government after 10 years; City weighs utility rate increase, new parks head

 Snoqualmie councilman Bob Jeans reflects on his neighbor on the council for the past eight years, Jeff MacNichols, right. MacNichols is leaving the council after three terms. - Seth Truscott/Staff Photo
Snoqualmie councilman Bob Jeans reflects on his neighbor on the council for the past eight years, Jeff MacNichols, right. MacNichols is leaving the council after three terms.
— image credit: Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

After exactly 10-and-a-half years on the Snoqualmie City Council, councilman Jeff MacNichols, the longest-serving council member, has left city government.

MacNichols, who works as an attorney, is moving his family to Redmond; his last day was May 31.

“It is with a very heavy heart,” he told the council last Monday, May 26, “but I ask that you accept the resignation.”

The council sent him off with a tribute. Mayor Matt Larson read a proclamation noting MacNichols’ three terms of office, during which he weighed sustainable financial planning, business development, the community center, the switch to a municipal court, the switch of a public defender, and the new contract to police North Bend.

“Jeff’s diligence and integrity,” the mayor said, increased “confidence in city government.”

“It’s not that you’re a lawyer that makes you an asset,” councilman Bob Jeans told his outgoing neighbor. “It’s your quiet, reasoned approach toward issues, your patience, your professionalism. We’ll miss that.”

MacNichols’ sons Dominick and Drake occasionally accompanied their father to meetings, where they did homework behind the bench.

Snoqualmie’s council “got to see these boys grow up,” said councilman Charles Peterson. “It makes it a good community. We’re comfortable with each other here. If we don’t always agree, we understand each other, and move forward.”

Peterson stressed how MacNichols offered the dispassionate, top-down view for the council.

“When we get into complicated situations, he pulls the whole discussion into focus and indicates where we should probably go. And by gosh, we go that way, most every time.”

The city is now accepting applications from residents to fill MacNichols' vacancy.

The term of the position will commence once a candidate is appointed by a majority vote of the City Council and will expire after the results of the November 2015 general election are certified.

Residents interested in applying for the vacancy must have resided in Snoqualmie for at least one year prior to the appointment and must be registered to vote in the city.

Applications are due at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Application formss are posted on the city website at www.cityofsnoqualmie.org in the “Public Participation” box. They may also be obtained at Snoqualmie City Hall, 38624 SE River St.  Questions may be directed to Jodi Warren, City Clerk, at 425-888-1555 x 1118 or jwarren@ci.snoqualmie.wa.us.

In other business:

• The council held the first of two public hearings on proposed city utility rate increases through 2016.

Rates would rise to pay for improvements and maintenance. This year, for residential customers, water rates would go up 6.75 percent, sewer rates would rise 7.5 percent, and stormwater would rise 17 percent.

Water rates would go up over the next two years based on the size of the connection, roughly 13 percent for in-city customers.

Commercial sewer rates would rise 32 percent over the next two years. Residential sewer rates would go up 15 percent. Multifamily rates would stay the same.

At the hearing, one speaker, Ryan Stokes, Business Director for the Snoqualmie Valley School District, told the council he recognizes the rationale for the increase, but seeks a break for local schools.

“I appreciate the importance of continuing to provide the highest quality service and upgrade aging infrastructure,” he said. “That is a challenge the school district faces.”

He asked the city to reclassify the school as a municipal or tax-exempt customer, as opposed to the current commercial rate, saving some $50,000 in higher rates over the next two years.

“We would like to drive as many dollars into the classroom as possible,” he said.

Final rates have not been approved. A second public hearing on the increase is planned for 7 p.m. Monday, June 9.

• The council approved a 5 percent raise for police captain Nick Almquist, effective back to March, when the city took over North Bend policing. North Bend provides 25 percent of the captain’s pay. The raise mirrors one given to Chief Steve McCulley.

“It was an oversight that we did not adjust the captain’s salary, even though his responsibilities increased in the same proportion,” said councilwoman Kathi Prewitt.

“I know there are a lot more responsibilities and demands these days with the North Bend contract,” said Mayor Larson. “You guys are doing great work.”

• The council also got an update on the hiring of a new Parks and Recreation director. The city is working with the Prothman Company of Issaquah on a scope of work, bringing in a consultant to evaluate the needs of the position and what the director should do. That process should take about three months. A contract is expected to come before the council in June.

Jeff MacNichols, left, gets a proclamation of thanks from Mayor Matt Larson.

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