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Consolidation study awaits budget decisions

 


The idea of joining two or more local towns into one involves a lot of factors, not to mention public opinion, which might soon be addressed if two cities are willing to fund a consultant’s help.

A proposed agreement between the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce and SCJ Alliance to consider issues pertaining to consolidating Grand Coulee and Electric City is moving forward and awaits details of Grand Coulee’s 2016 budget decisions.

The chamber hopes to enter into an agreement with the SCJ group from Wenatchee to provide planning services for a feasibility study.

Already, Electric City has agreed to pay up to $15,000 for the study effort and the chamber is waiting on word from Grand Coulee on how much it will give toward the effort.

Grand Coulee City Clerk Carol Boyce said the study will also be funded by that city, but the amount hasn’t been decided on. The chamber should know about Grand Coulee’s contribution early in December.

The proposal by SCJ Alliance calls for a $30,000 fee; however, chamber Executive Director Peggy Nevsimal told both the Electric City and Grand Coulee councils that members of the chamber plan to do some of the work involved to bring the cost to both cities down.

SCJ Alliance suggested in early talks that the chamber, or the cities, could provide some of the services to keep costs down.

The effort by SCJ includes information gathering and a public outreach process, “which is crucial to determining whether to move forward with a consolidation effort,” its report states.

The study should answer two main questions:

• Do the benefits of consolidation outweigh the costs?

• Do the citizens support consolidation?

SCJ plans to conduct up to 12 in-depth, one-on-one and group discussions on issues related to consolidation, such as tax rates, capital facilities, indebtedness, mutual aid and interlocal contracting, government services, contracted services and special districts.

The Wenatchee firm also will conduct two community forums and develop surveys.

The study is expected to take most of 2016 before completion.

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