Here are the top local news stories that ran in The Bellingham Herald last week.
GOVERNOR CHASTISES WWU RAISES
Gov. Chris Gregoire has chastised Western Washington University for giving "significant salary increases" to faculty during a poor economy while students faced tuition hikes of 16 percent.
"In the worst economic times in 80 years, I am surprised that Western has entered into a collective bargaining agreement that provides for a salary increase of 5.25 percent effective in 2012-13, a 4.25 percent salary increase each year during the 2013-15 biennium, a 10 percent increase for faculty and instructors who are promoted, and an additional 15 percent increase in stipends for department chairs," Gregoire wrote in the letter to WWU President Bruce Shepard.
The new three-year contract with United Faculty of Western Washington, which was approved by Western's board of trustees, goes into effect Sept. 16.
Western and the union defended the increases, saying that faculty - essentially the university's teachers - haven't had an across-the-board salary increase since 2008. They also said the pay increase is needed to make Western competitive in recruiting and keeping faculty.
LYNDEN TO CONSIDER SALES TAX FOR ROAD WORK
Lynden leaders will consider forming a citywide transportation district and then asking voters for a sales tax increase for transportation.
Lynden City Council held a public hearing on the formation of a citywide Transportation Benefit District. If created, the district would then consider asking voters for a two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax increase.
The council could take action at its July 16 meeting.
The tax increase, which would be on the Nov. 6 ballot, would raise roughly $300,000 a year, city officials estimate. It would cost shoppers an additional 20 cents on a $100 purchase.
The money would go toward repaving streets, extending 17th Street through to Main Street, pedestrian trails and bridges, and rebuilding arterial streets downtown.
STATE BOARD APPROVES LAKE WHATCOM TRUST PLAN
Whatcom County can apply to transfer 8,700 acres from state control to county control for use as parkland, after a state board approved an important preliminary step in the transfer plan.
The state Board of Natural Resources on Tuesday, July 3, unanimously approved a plan to "block up" different types of trust land in the Lake Whatcom watershed.
The County Council will next consider requesting the transfer of land. The land is currently managed by the state Department of Natural Resources to raise revenue, largely through logging; the county would be required to use it for parks purposes.