Hoquiam financial issues

I appreciate the newspaper’s coverage of local government news. Again, Hoquiam has a budget problem with the closure of the paper mill. I feel for the millworkers who have lost their jobs and understand the budget problems this has created for Hoquiam.

The shutdown should not have come as a big surprise to city officials. The former owners closed the mill because it was not profitable. The new owners faced the same challenges.

It’s great that the city has a lower-cost medical plan for the retired police and firemen. This should have been done years ago. They need to reduce medical, dental, eye care premiums for the city employees and their entire families. The premiums are a huge burden on the taxpayers. This expense increases the cost of all city services. Aberdeen was able to negotiate with their city employees to reduce the amount of the medical premium paid by their taxpayers. Ask Aberdeen to help negotiate union contracts. While federal, state, and county employees were taking wage concessions and increasing the amount of medical premiums they pay, Hoquiam increased wages and increased amounts taxpayers paid for medical premiums.

The mayor is currently in his third term. When he was first elected mayor, he hired a city administrator and started his revitalization program. Most small towns don’t have city administrators. This is a highly paid position and costly to the taxpayers. The next program was to revitalize downtown Hoquiam. Thousands of state and local taxes have been spent hiring consultants and advisers for this program. This program was administrated by Brian Shay and Alissa Thurman. We need to stop wasting tax dollars. The intent was to attract businesses and customers. They wanted tourists and citizens to shop and patronize our town and not just drive through it.

Recently Brian Shay, City Administrator, and Alissa Thurman, former city planner and current Port of Grays Harbor manager were married. Both grew up on the Harbor. Instead of having their wedding in this community and patronizing local businesses, they packed their bags and went to Winthrop to marry. The mayor packed his bags and traveled to Winthrop to officiate the ceremony. If city and county employees have no loyalty to Grays Harbor, why would we expect others to patronize local businesses?

The mayor and his rubber-stamp council need to reduce expenses and stop raising our taxes. We are in for another large increase in utilities beginning Oct. 1. We can always count on an increase every Oct. 1. This annual increase does not include the annual property tax increase or the new library and fire truck levies. When Hoquiam received a $10 million loan for the water transmission line and $450,000 state Department of Ecology loan, it should have started budgeting to repay those loans instead of again increasing our taxes. Some time ago a council member said that the city could sell timber and repay the loans. We were told recently that they wouldn’t use proceeds from timber sales to repay the debts.

City officials say that they are going reduce expenses, but action speaks louder than words.

Judy Reames