CHELAN — Cameron “Skip” Morehouse says water and sewer hookup fees and lakefront development are some of the biggest issues facing Chelan right now.
Stan Morse says he’s concerned about the budget, and wants the city to resist investing in any new major projects as the economy and sales taxes rebound.
Both are running for Position 6 on the Chelan City Council in the Nov. 5 election.
Morehouse is seeking his third term in the post, while Morse — who served on the council from 2007 to 2011 — is hoping to unseat him. Morse said he missed being on the council, and picked Morehouse’s seat for a reason.
“As I looked around at the seven council members there, I remembered some times when Skip got real stuck on certain issues. Like the roundabout,” Morse said. “He had a very hard time giving up on that, even after the council, as a body seemed clear we were not going to put a roundabout in.”
Morehouse said he wonders why Morse wants the post after giving up his seat on the council two years ago. While on the council, Morse ran for Chelan County commissioner, Chelan County PUD commissioner and state legislator. Morse says he gave it up because he knew he planned to run against Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee, and thought it was disingenuous to run for a second term if he wasn’t planning to stay.
But more than talking about each other, these two candidates say Chelan is facing plenty of challenges, and they’d like to be there to work through them.
Morehouse said ever since a council decision last year to reduce hookup fees for water and sewer, people who pay water and sewer bills are subsidizing them
“In my view, they should not have been reduced,” he said. “The less you get from the person hooking up, the more money that has to come from ratepayers. It’s a hidden tax,” he added. The council will be reviewing the reduced hookup fees soon, he said.
Morehouse also said shoreline development is also a big deal for Chelan residents. For years, anyone who’s wanted to build a dock on the lake has been required to install tree trunks and root wads to mitigate for the loss of fish habitat.
“There really isn’t any scientific evidence that mitigation is even needed in Lake Chelan,” he said. Some of the measures taken have changed the lake’s environment and contributed to the growth of algae, he said. The city has worked with state and federal agencies to remove the requirements, which should also serve to keep Lake Chelan pristine, he said.
Morse said with budget time approaching, he’s thinking about building reserves, and taking a hard look at what should be funded, and what should not.
“I would like to see us slow down on these gigantamongous new projects and think about it as if the money was coming out of our own pockets,” he said.
He said he’s concerned about having money in reserves so the city can take care of what it has, even if there’s an earthquake or major flood.
“Reinvestment in the community is a good thing, but we’re here to provide basic services,” he said.
One example of a big, new project he thinks is unnecessary is a parking garage.
He said the city should look long and hard at any counter-offers made by the Chelan County PUD’s property — which includes the visitor center and a parking lot — which the city now hopes to buy.
“Can we afford that?” he asked, adding that parking in Chelan is not really a problem most of the time.