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Sept. 24, 2022

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C-Tran board discusses boundary ideas

Preliminary overview lays out agenda for meetings next year

By , Columbian Business Reporter

C-Tran board members received a few more details Tuesday night about boundary expansion talks set for early next year.

All the county’s cities will be represented in person; the boundary debate will be part of 20-year plan discussions; and service equity will be a focus at the workshop in February or March.

But the basics were still unclear. Who is served and who could be taxed, asked Washougal City Councilor Jennifer McDaniel. And why is this needed when October’s transit conference solidly shut down the idea of boundary expansion, asked Battle Ground City Councilor Mike Dalesandro.

That conference, called by the Clark County council this fall, gave the reins back to the C-Tran board to move forward on boundary discussions.

Vancouver City Councilor Jack Burkman said working within the framework of long-term planning makes sense for the agency.

“To me, it doesn’t presuppose any answers,” he said.

But County Councilor Jeanne Stewart said she saw next year’s work group already going in the wrong direction. “I hope we don’t forget about the spirit of what was being asked,” she said. “Is there a way to have more equitable service across the C-Tran boundaries using existing revenue?”

Changing the boundaries would take a conference such as the short-lived one this fall. Whether any newly served area of the county would pay C-Tran’s sales tax would be up to a majority vote in that area.

Currently all the territory inside Vancouver’s growth boundary and in each of the county’s incorporated cities, except Woodland, is served by C-Tran, and transactions in those areas are subject to the sales tax.

The planning and boundary workshop next year will feature the entire C-Tran board as well as a representative from Woodland and one each from Ridgefield, La Center and Yacolt. The three are currently served by one C-Tran board seat.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, C-Tran Executive Director and CEO Jeff Hamm got a $13,000 raise, bringing his base pay to about $161,000 before benefits and other compensation.

The board approved the raise, following an executive session, to bring Hamm’s pay closer to the median salary of similar positions at similar agencies.

“To me, we have an executive director performing well above average yet we’re paying him well below average,” Burkman said.

Just Stewart voted against the raise; board member and County Councilor David Madore had left during an executive session.

Board chair Jim Irish, presiding over his final C-Tran meeting, also praised Hamm for his work. Irish, who did not run for another term as mayor of La Center this year, was recognized at the end of the meeting for his service.

Columbian Business Reporter

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