Year in review: Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee

By Jeff Christopher

It is my pleasure to briefly summarize those issues, discussions, and proposals arising from your Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) in 2018.

After twenty-five months of presentations, debate and discussion, Whatcom County Council voted to legislate the Whatcom County Public Works Solid Waste Collection Proposal, debated and eventually – endorsed by PRCAC – commencing January 1, 2019.

Those residents, who own properties with functioning dwellings, will receive 32-gallon garbage pickups every other week, along with recycling, to be used as their needs require, per calendar year. For complete information, please see candord.com. It will be the responsibility of PRCAC, in consultation with the Whatcom County health department, to monitor both customer satisfaction with the service as well as to apply actual service usage rates in determining appropriate levels of service going forward.

By legislation, Whatcom County Council is the “purse-holder” for those monies accumulated through Transportation Benefit District (TBD) funding, commonly referred to as our “Gas Tax.” This one-cent per gallon tax is held and tracked by the county and is intended to help fund important road maintenance and transportation improvement projects that would benefit our community.

PRCAC’s responsibility is, through community consultation, to recommend specific projects to the county that meet that criterion, while insisting that the county uphold its own responsibility to invest general tax revenues into Point Roberts infrastructure.

Further, the nature and scope of these projects must be determined for both planning and budgetary purposes. Earlier this year, and by unanimous vote, PRCAC determined that all TBD revenue – both existing and forecast, be divided into two spending pools.

Under the approved 80/20 program, 80 percent of revenues would be accrued for so-called “large-scale” projects with the intent of leveraging a corresponding amount of county monies in partnership for proposals going forward. The smaller pool (20 percent) would be used for smaller “Act Now” projects.

Working with Whatcom County public works, the first two “Act Now” projects were pushed forward; landscaping support for the all-volunteer Point Roberts Garden Club, and the long-discussed completion of the Lighthouse Park walking circuit along Edwards and Marine drives. The former project has now been adopted by the county council while the latter is in the final planning stages.

Economic development, land-use planning, and zoning refinement have been ongoing themes throughout the year. The Point Roberts business community has been reconnected with the Small Business Development Center with the intention of assisting local businesses with strategic and marketing guidance, in addition to counseling for developmental grant and loan applications.

As the year closes, PRCAC has reopened discussions with the Whatcom County planning and development department in reviewing and potentially overhauling planning and zoning regulations to better reflect the economic realities of our community.

Help select the PRCAC at-large nominee is an experiment in community participation designed to shed light on the PRCAC appointment process and has been arrived at with the assistance of the county executive’s office.

Through this sort of debate and discussion, a greater bond is forged between the committee and the community; something that should greatly benefit the reconstituted PRCAC committee going forward.

On a personal note, and as I will be departing PRCAC in the coming weeks, allow me to express my thanks and gratitude to have been allowed to serve our community in a small way and I wish my successors – and the whole community – the very best for a happy and healthy 2019.

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