SEPTEMBER 10, 2018

The Okanogan County Board of Commissioners met for its regular session on September 10, 2018, with Commissioner Jim DeTro, Chairman, Commissioner Chris Branch Vice-Chairman; Commissioner Andy Hover, Member and Laleña Johns, Clerk of the Board, present.

Review Commissioners Agenda and Consent Agenda
Commissioners discussed the fair that happened over the weekend. There were few complaints about the main gate being relocated. There was some concern about senior access and it was thought shuttles may be used next year.

Executive Session RCW 42.30.110 (1)(g)
Commissioner Branch moved to go into executive session at 9:30 AM for 30 minutes inviting Engineer Josh Thomson, Ben Rough, Perry Huston, and Tanya Craig to discuss and review the performance of a public employee. Motion was seconded, all were in favor, motion carried.

Executive session was extended fifteen minutes at 10:00 a.m.

Executive Session ended at 10:15 a.m. no decisions were made.

Executive Session RCW 42.30.110 (1)(i)
Commissioner Branch moved to go into executive session at 10:15 AM for 20 minutes inviting David Gecas and Josh Thomson, to discuss pending litigation to which to which the agency may be a part or likely to become a party. Motion was seconded, all were in favor, motion carried.

Executive session was extended 10 minutes at 10:35 a.m.

Executive Session ended at 10:45 a.m. no decisions were made.

Okanogan County Exit Conference State Auditor
Steven Gadd, Jake Santistevan, Susan Speiker, Pam Johnson, Leah McCormack, Perry Huston, Josh Thomson, Mike Worden, Rocky Robbins

Mr. Santistevan introduced himself to the board and explained the States audit vision is to increase trust in government by increasing citizen trust toward the entity whose responsibility it is for handling public funds.

Mr. Gadd provided the audit results and explained the audit period was January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. (attached)

The test areas were:
County road levy diversion
Solid waste department fuel card use and cash receipts
Cash Receipting-County Fair
Payroll-Employee salaries and wages
Vendor Payments
Selected IT security policies
Financial Condition and fiscal sustainability

Mr. Gadd further discussed the county’s management letter which focused on the Fairground Activities. Ms. McCormack asked what the auditor is looking for in terms of control, weekly monitoring? And, what department would do the monitoring? Mr. Gadd stated that is up to the Commissioners and suggested more frequent monitoring would be good. The facility rental revenues are most at risk, more than the fair, he said.

Mr. Gadd went over the financial statements and federal single audit report. (attached) There were no significant deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting nor were material weaknesses found. The auditor had to include another federal program which was Highway Planning & Construction Cluster Program as prescribed by Uniform guidance due to Type A and Type B programs.

Mr. Santistevan explained when a Type A has not been audited in a couple years it actually triggers an audit.

Mr. Gadd explained that Cari Hall has volunteered to help county departments with their grants, so the accountability information is provided to her timely and accurately so her schedules are truly accurate. Mr. Santistevan stated some grant amounts are more likely to be left off when the accountability information figures are not accurate and this sets up a scenario of audit failure and would not have met the federal audit requirements. One step is to hone into the schedule to identify if there is any missing information.

Mr. Gadd explained that a copy of the DRAFT representation letter is to be provided with the audit documents. He went on to discuss the audit costs and how those charges and expenses were compiled. Commissioner DeTro stated his disappointment in that the State Auditor must bill us to perform our own audit.

Mr. Santistevan explained that normally a survey is sent out after the conclusion of the audit. He welcomed the commissioners to participate in the survey to provide open feedback. What went great and what went poorly or not as expected. It does get viewed by State Auditor Pat McCarthy and staff to see if there are trends that need to be addressed or corrected. The group thanked the county and exited.

Discussion Wolf Protocol Follow-up-State and Federal Agencies
Present for the meeting were:
Okanogan County
Sheriff Frank Rogers,
Sgt Tony Hawley,
Communications Officer Mike Worden
Under Sheriff, Joe Somday
Steve Brown Title
Planning Director, Perry Huston,
Planner Char Schumacher,
Planner Angie Hubbard

US Forest Service
FS Supervisor
FS Ranger Matt Reidy Forest Service

Washington Dept of Fish and Wildlife
WDFW Jim Brown
Risk Manager Tanya Craig
Sgt. Christensen WDFW Law Enforcement
WDFW Eric Nodd law enforcement

US Fish and Wildlife
Brad Thompson

Vanessa Con
Eric Merrick,
Rich Ganns,
Alec Crook,

Nancy Soriano
Gina McCoy

The audio recorder was turned on, per Commissioner DeTro's request.

Commissioner DeTro opened the meeting up asking for a roll call. Afterward, he stated the purpose of the meeting was to follow up on previous discussion on Wolf incidents protocol. Steve Brown and Sheriff Rogers were asked to the table along with Jim Brown, Brad Thompson, and Perry Huston.

Mr. Brad Thompson recaptured the previously discussed objectives. These were based his memo and established protocols for each agency that are standing orders. What kind of info could go to the public that would help to minimize the conflicts and attend to the highest degree of safety for our citizens? He provided handouts Human Safety Comes First in an Emergency, and the Memorandum. Commissioner Hover stated this meeting goes beyond wolves; it extends to all federally listed species.

Mr. Thompson thanked the board for this opportunity to contribute to the agenda and a continuation of a topic important to the community. The memo from his regional office addressed a broad spectrum of species. (attached)

Mr. Thompson provided a statement supporting the evidence and need and discussed safety.(attached) The information in the statement is part of his tailgate discussion with employees and is a good general reminder to citizens too. Commissioner Hover asked what the USFW employees’ impression was of the statement. Mr. Thompson replied safety cannot be stated enough and we should not assume people know what to do in a similar situation. The situation it did bring home the need to make people aware of what to expect in the woods but on a consistent basis. The recent issue reinforces that this should be revisited on a regular basis in order to make it clear within the agency as to proper protocol. Mr. Thompson spoke about the Memorandum to All Region One Ecological Services Employees as well as the email to the WFWO team. He said it is full of Clear Repetitive language to articulate human safety as the highest priority. The email went out to all employees, but also went to leadership teams reporting to Mr. Thompson. They agreed it isn’t enough to just send out an email, but wants to ensure everyone opens it, reads it and understands it and has an opportunity to ask questions. Employee supers are required, in all three offices lacey Spokane and Wenatchee, to engage with their units of work and those working under them, to sign and acknowledge they understand the message.

Mr. Thompson went on to discuss the dispatch system. What is Okanogan County’s understanding of his position?

Director Huston asked if anyone had comments at this point. WDFW, Jim Brown commented on Mr. Thompson’s information. Mr. Brown explained how the situation was constrained by the species act and realized there is ownership on their account since the incident. He has spoken to the director and he wants us to know that human safety is paramount to the agency as well. Commissioner DeTro explained his previous conversation with the Director about this and the Director did convey the same priorities to him.

Commissioner Hover explained it was good to come together to go over the memo and understand that agencies also think human safety comes first. Sheriff Rogers said this is a first step towards the right direction.

Commissioner Hover said one important piece of public outreach, is having the forest service here as he thought they could look into putting some signage up at trailheads to educate people. Forest Ranger, Mr. Reidy, replied that the Forest Service is working on that and has gotten information for a brochure but it has not been drafted yet. They are in the process of getting it to the point it can be reviewed by their peers. It will include big wild animals such as bear, cougar, and wolves and how to avoid a negative experience. There are some good examples of what other states are publishing online and that information has provided some good ideas. He hopes to begin to review it soon.

Mike Worden explained dispatch protocol and what rolls and response protocols are to be used.

Mr. Thompson said that an appendix originally accompanied the memo and it highlighted additional info for field staff on how to communicate with other agencies, how to use section 7 consultation processes, and provided a formal way to engage with others to make available early on guidance independent of getting the call. To protect life and limb, action agencies should go forth with their action then catch up with the department later on fire incidents.

Commissioner Branch added that law enforcement is involved from each agency, and when law enforcement responds it is his understanding that human life be priority one. His hope is that all the agencies are focused on human safety. The good thing is that everyone is sitting at the table today to hear the message.

The response protocols were discussed. Mr. Thompson is actually hoping to get educated on this topic too as he doesn’t actually oversee the law enforcement part of his agency. The overall goal is to come up with a confirmed loosely understood protocol that doesn’t rely solely on a dispatcher. They may not need to go through the red tape. He wants to get to the point where the dispatcher responding to a human safety concern goes ahead and contacts the next person who would supply the next set of resources without first getting the “okay” from WDFW.

Commissioner Hover would like reassurance that responders respond appropriately to the calls and not say something like “don’t worry they won’t hurt you.” Their response should be appropriate for the situation.

Mr. Brown remembers the conversation around cougars in years past. He said the county and his agency functioned well together to work out issues. The Forest Service has done a stellar job correcting the situation or this conversation would not have gone down this way. With a lengthy history of training and conversations, things are different now. He thinks there is confidence that officers are trained which gives a good sense that trust will follow. People’s perception is different now when it comes to the different kinds of animals perceived to be dangerous. There are many elements that are just not known until the call. Mr. Thompson replied that the perceived threshold of danger is different for everyone. The email was very clear about stating the level of emergency.

Director Huston said the understanding is that when a call comes in, that a safety officer will be dispatched, what happens next as Jim Brown previously explained is that an officer is dispatched or one is called out if one is not available to respond. The department needs to know what happened so the cavalry is not sent for an animal that is just walking along the trail. When an animal is in the act of depredating, that is a different story, and they would expect their officers to take that call. The animal incident would need to be investigated and that would be WDFW’s responsibility.

Sheriff Rogers said there are such a mix of questions and answers depending on the situation.

Mr. Brown said the department is already going through a NEPA process and this situation highlights what concerns it should cover. Regardless of what comes out of the alternatives there is a possibility of reintroduction. Still to figure out, is what can be done with animals that cause problems. They will deal with the calls and he wants to know what tools he has.

Forest Service Ranger Mr. Reidy stated in most emergencies and if they have telephone service they will call 911, but when telephone service is not available then radios are used and the call goes to NEWCC and/or SWICC. Commissioner Hover thought they would not be in telephone range most of the time and so the radios are typically used and those contact NEWCC and./or SWICC dispatchers not the local dispatch center.

Director Huston stated he will work with the county dispatch and Mr. Thompson to draft a memo outlining the conversation today. Public Outreach is being worked on via a brochure. Director Huston asked if the legal authority would be included in the Forest Service brochure? Mr. Reidy stated it would not be in the brochure, but another agency would be better suited to provide that information. Commissioner Hover provided a scenario where he is on a trail with his dog and his dog is attacked, does he have the right to protect his animal from the predator? Mr. Brown said human safety is number one. Ms. Craig stated it isn’t that black and white. Sgt Christensen explained absent threats, there is a jurisprudence and not law; he further explained what the ESA says about it. What complicates things is the interpretation of the law and the protection of self-versus property as each situation may be handled different. Commissioner Hover stated that could be the reason.

Commissioner Branch added that the Tourism Council advertises the whole county to tourists including trails where wildlife may appear and he believes those should also have this information posted there as well as sportsman’s shows etc.….

The public needs to be educated about the wildlife here. WDFW should be the entity that educates the public and provides the outreach. Commissioner Branch pointed out that we talk about how we respond when we get a call about a wolf threat but the public doesn’t normally have a satellite phone like the Forest Service research person. In the case of the general public, they will unlikely have phone service to make the report, making public education a priority. Commissioner DeTro reported that a cell phone will work for 911 most anywhere. Commissioner Branch inquired with those present; there was uncertainty amidst the group.

Jim Brown shared the wolf collar data sharing agreement with the commissioners and Sheriff. The county may designate individuals to receive the information of the collar data, but it is only assessable through secure login. Mr. Brown explained the whole agreement is under review, so essentially this agreement is the interim agreement draft until the changes are approved in the new draft. (attached) Counties do have access to the data once the agreement is in place. There are some windows where the data won’t be available during whelping time. It is a new process in the Region, he said. Commissioner Branch asked about how the info is disseminated etc…. Mr. Brown explained the agreement outlines what info is to be disseminated. He explained the data which shows the wolves travel long distances regularly. For example, recent data showed that one wolf traveled to Canada and back in one day.

The need for a next meeting was discussed. Mr. Thompson explained he would like to continue to establish a higher level of trust and sees another conversation may be needed. He thinks that finding a way to establish regular communication among the group members to maintain and build upon what has been discussed today, will be important in moving this forward. He is open to coming back anytime to meet with the board.

The Commissioners thanked everyone who attended the meeting today and moved on to the next business item.

Update Planning-Perry Huston
Commissioner Hover handed out an MOU from the Partners for Rural Washington and thought that David Gecas should also take a look at it. There isn’t enough coverage and it might be a good pilot project.

Interim Water Availability Study Areas
Director Huston said the public hearing for the study areas is set for Sept. 18 at 3:30 p.m. The hearing is set in order to hear comments about the study area and to consider adopting interim controls which would then route to the Planning Commission. He is creating a staff report for the hearing and describes what the study would actually look like. The environmental review, in-stream flows, and senior water rights are important pieces and he is contemplating whether or not to generate a survey to encourage to the water right holders get a handle on which rights have gone through adjudication or have impairments and what the holders actually believe their right is. Commissioner Hover stated that would hard to accomplish as many people will be on the defense and he thought an optional survey might be a softer approach. Director Huston explained many of those calls are fielded by his office already. The point is that the senior water right holders are first in line for impairment.

Commissioner Branch thought it was important to understand the area and inventory what we actually know of the basin and then discuss what folks experience today. Ms. Hubbard showed the Malott area data from 1976 through 2017 to show base flow rates in the Okanogan River.

Commissioner Hover said DOE sent letters out to users with daily flow information that states the season water usage may restricted and why users must first check flows before using their water, that is if you are a junior user. Ms. Soriano commented on the sub basins surface water rights being shut down every year to junior users for six months of the year. Commissioner Hover said that rule will be re-written. How the rule is written now, it says in-house domestic use can be permitted. The instream flow rules were discussed and how they will impact what we are trying to accomplish.

Ms. Soriano stated the portion of the 1976 in stream flow rule that she sent to the board was provided by FutureWise and is still relevant (attached) and she doesn’t believe it disqualifies. The question is, is there hydraulic continuity in Tunk Valley, she would say yes, and continuity is assumed. If someone wants to build a house based on ground water she said it is up to the applicant to prove there is hydraulic continuity. Commissioner Hover read from WAC 173-549.

Director Huston asked for further direction from the board on this matter. There are graphs showing flow and meter readings and initial buildable lands map which will get buffed up.

Commissioner Hover informed the group that there are grant funds that will help tie wells to parcels. The Watershed Council in WRIA 48 put in an application to DOE for metering and along with that they wanted to revamp their data base so they have the same info that the county uses. The Council asked him about that, because eventually we have to provide a report to DOE on how many houses or improved structures are contained in each reach and that is how they count our usage. That is an easy number to come up with, but he isn’t sure what the requirement is for a single house. Do we want to know how many residents they will count against the usage? Commissioner Branch asked if there was a memorandum of understanding or other document that ties the Methow Watershed Council grant application to the county. The Watershed Council is not a nonprofit. Director Huston stated much of what they were going to do is the same as what the county wanted to do. The water meters and aspect study are good things to demonstrate use, but that would be additional work.

Director Huston provided the Water Resource Inventory Area #49 list of proposed Planning Unit members. The letter did go out to CCT and they have not yet decided how they will participate but they are in discussion. Staff will reach out to groups they have not yet heard from. Commissioner Branch asked if the Columbiana was on the list, as they had sent him a letter about participation on the planning unit. Commissioner Hover would like to defer participation in the WRIA 49 watershed unit to the other Commissioners. Commissioner Branch stated he also has a big interest as he was on the Watershed Planning Unit in the past representing the cities of Oroville and Tonasket. Commissioner DeTro stated he would.

The local capacity grant uses are still being determined by Ecology.

A meeting is coming up on Thursday Sept. 13 and we are still on time in getting the submittal in. The technical advisory board will transfer the plan to the county commissioners once they have finalized it.

Comprehensive Plan Review
Redrafting the alternatives, because of the discussion and focus on population he will reduce to only three alternatives with one being no action, directing growth to city expansion areas, and the other a more even distribution because in his mind it captures a good policy direction.

Commissioner Hover stated if we have the historical population data to determine where it will put us and we think about Washington state growing faster than other states, what information is being used to determine population data. Commissioner Hover would like the data sets that were used to determine population.

The board adjourned at 5:00 p.m.