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Lincoln looks at a job well done

POULSBO — When Jeff Lincoln assumed his duties as the city’s first public works director in August 2004, his to-do list was pretty much set.

“There were four issues that faced the city that were viewed as serious problems, according to the human resources company that worked with the city to bring me in,” Lincoln said.

Those four concerns dealt with the sewer system moving forward, the availability and supply of water, the stormwater comprehensive plan and the overall inadequacy of city facilities.

“When I came and I sat down the with mayor when I came into work, I did my own review of what was going on and kind of prioritized what needed to be done first and worked my way down the list,” he said, noting that the first issue was answering the city’s water question.

The Kitsap Public Utilities District had made the city a reasonable offer to provide water with a rate structure based on its costs, but Poulsbo had already spent $270,000 on its Westside Well project, he said.

“It was troubling to me to look at the alternatives between $90,000 and $140,000 a year in purchasing cost to the PUD and the fact that, at that time, we had (spent) an estimated $270,000 to complete the Westside Well,” Lincoln said.

The analysis of the situation was straightforward and it appears that the city should have an adequate supply of water for the next six to eight years, he added.

The next issue was the sewer concerns even though the city had approved its sewer comprehensive plan.

“The sewer problem hinges around the Lemolo siphons and whether or not there’s an issue with the Lemolo siphons,” Lincoln said.

“Is the issue that someone doesn’t want sewer passing through their backyard or is there one that there’s a real risk to the environment and you can create those problems or you can manage them and live them?” he asked.

The 2002 sewer plan looked extensively at alternative ways of managing sewer, he said, noting the issue is about more than protecting the environment. It’s about serving the needs of the people of Poulsbo, economic viability and a myriad of other interrelated issues.

“All of those things play into the analysis and recommendation of anything that I would ever make,” Lincoln said.

Choices that deal with either rerouting the sewer or installing an onsite treatment facility or redoing the Lemolo siphons have numbers associated with them, he said.

“Those are choices that have to be made and you can make choices that will double the monthly sewer bill for the average resident of Poulsbo, if the citizens want that and the elected officials move in that direction,” he said. “Those are choices that have to be made by policymakers. I just provide the information.”

From a financial standpoint, Lincoln explained that the system is an excellent shape.

“It appears that the sewer fund is unobligated against projects. Right now, there’s over $3 million that’s based on the fact that Olhava has taken the lead and will be paid back over time for the Bond Road Lift Station and (the State Route) 305 Force Main so we don’t have to pay the upfront costs,” he said.

That funding means the city can make the necessary upgrades to improve its system including the central inflow and infiltration project that was deferred by the Bond Road Pump Station and SR 305 Force Main projects, he said.

“Now that’s a matter of scheduling within the capacity of staff to be able to manage as much work as there is do in the next year,” he said.

Much of the city council’s finance/administration committee’s concern about the sewer system’s finances was based on the projected need for costly capital improvements in the near future, he said.

“I think they had reason to be concerned based on the projections of the needs of these astronomically expensive improvements that were forecasted,” he said. “I don’t think we have the need for those improvements in the shortrun.”

Saturday: Lincoln talks about the municipal campus, his future with the city of Steillacoom and what he’ll miss about Poulsbo.

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