Commissioners consider advisory vote on CRC

Legal counsel says county could ask voters about money

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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Clark County commissioners said Wednesday they might put a nonbinding advisory vote on November's ballot regarding the Columbia River Crossing.

However, Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Bronson Potter reiterated to commissioners his opinion from 2010, when he said they could not have an advisory vote on a matter over which they lack the authority to decide.

Potter said Wednesday that commissioners could ask voters only about whether county money should be spent on the project. He said commissioners could adopt a draft resolution saying no county money would be spent on the planning of the Columbia River Crossing or in support of the bi-state project, and then ask voters whether the resolution should be formally adopted. The language resembles that of a resolution anti-light rail activists are trying to get the Vancouver City Council to put on the ballot.

Commissioner Steve Stuart said county money isn't much of a player in the CRC, as plans call for state and federal funding.

Commissioner David Madore asked if the county has any role in issuing permits for the project.

No, Stuart said. All of the work will be done in the city of Vancouver.

Stuart said the vote still wouldn't be what Madore has wanted, which is a straight up-or-down vote on the Columbia River Crossing.

"You are finding out the limits of our authority," Stuart said.

Madore said it doesn't mean that commissioners have zero authority.

Commissioner Tom Mielke was absent from the discussion, which was during the commissioners' weekly board time.

Earlier this month, Madore and Mielke approved a resolution opposing the Columbia River Crossing.

It would cost the county a few thousand dollars to add the advisory vote to the Nov. 5 general election.

Commissioners have until August to come up with the proposed language.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com