County, city councils to meet on tax increase, budget cuts

Both the Bellingham City Council and Whatcom County Council will be talking finances this week. Their meetings are your opportunity to voice your concerns.

The County Council will decide whether to raise taxes by 4 cents per $1,000 of property value, about $12 a year for a $300,000 home, to help pay for water projects. The county faces hundreds of millions of dollars in water projects identified as needed or required by the state, such as storm-water retrofits and salmon recovery and enhancement projects.

In Bellingham, council members will be seeking public input on the proposed 2009 budget.

The mayor has proposed eliminating 13 vacant-but-budgeted positions and cutting funds for social service programs, economic development grants and transportation projects.

Still planned is the addition of four positions for a police neighborhood anti-crime unit.

Kudos to council members who have also proposed cutting $9,680 from their own travel and conference registration budget to show other departments they’re committed to holding themselves accountable.

Whatcom County Council meeting

7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 25, Whatcom County Council Chambers, County Courthouse, 311 Grand Ave.

Bellingham City Council meeting

7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 24, City Council chambers, City Hall, 210 Lottie St.


The public is invited to attend the regular meeting of the Bellingham Local Emergency Planning Committee. The agenda includes updates on local emergency planning efforts as well as a presentation on pipeline safety from the Olympic Pipeline Co.

We’re coming up on the 10-year anniversary of the June 10, 1999, disaster when the Olympic pipeline ruptured and spilled 276,000 gallons of fuel into Whatcom and Hannah creeks.

When the fuel ignited, the fire charred nearly a mile and a half of Whatcom Creek. Three people died.

The disaster at Whatcom Falls Park prompted Congress to improve pipeline safety and resulted in rare convictions and major legal settlements.

The pipeline moves fuel south from four refineries in Whatcom and Skagit counties.

It’s always a good time to know more about emergency planning. We hope community members will participate and attend the meeting.

Bellingham Local Emergency Planning Committee

1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 25, at St. Luke’s Community Health Education Center, 3333 Squalicum Parkway


If the fall rain and early evenings have driven you inside, what better way to spend your time than with a good book? You can join others reading “The Living” by Annie Dillard. The book focuses on a town near Puget Sound where fishermen, loggers, surveyors, miners, farmers, shopkeepers and others struggle to survive as the town is born, grows and enjoys a financial boom.

Bellingham Reads

6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 26, at Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Ave.


Parades. Turkey. Football. Pie.

Thanksgiving Day ThursdayWe wish everyone a happy day with family and friends.