ML settles Cingular tax issue
The start of the Tuesday, June 18 Medical Lake City Council meeting went right into executive session.
After 10 minutes, the City Council resumed regular session and took action to accept a settlement for $1,886.04 from Cingular Wireless regarding taxes collected from wireless customers’ bills over the course of three years after the company was bought by AT&T. Some of that money was supposed to be sent to local jurisdictions, but was never disbursed.
Many other larger cities presented Cingular with a lawsuit in order to receive those funds. For Medical Lake, the total was $4,831.50, meaning the settlement amount was less than 50 percent owed to the city. City Attorney Cindy McMullen said if the city joined others in filing a lawsuit, Cingular would almost certainly respond with a countersuit where Medical Lake would face legal fees that would negate any income from the settlement.
“If sued, attorney fees would be in excess of $2,000,” she said.
The City Council also approved the final documents in its transition to an online bill pay system.
City Administrator Doug Ross said the online system was an optional form of payment that would come with some fees tacked on by the software company. Residents also have the option of receiving their bill by email, saving on postage costs for the city as well as paper, printer toner and other administrative costs.
There is still much work left to do on the system before it goes public, but further information will be presented as the operational date nears. The official start of the system is still about two to three months out.
Tied directly to the online bill payment system, the City Council approved a month-to-month contract with RecOne, an online registration software for parks and recreation services. With the software, Ross said parents can sign their kids up for various programs throughout the year.
In addition, it offers groups seeking to rent facilities an option to schedule a time for use. There is a 4-percent fee at the end of every transaction, about which some council members had concerns.
Ross reiterated that the 4-percent fee only applied to parks and recreation payments made online.
“People can still walk up and pay in person,” he said.
Since the contract is month-to-month, the city can see if it’s a useful tool and gauge its popularity.
Also at the meeting, the city’s six-year transportation improvement plan received its annual update, projecting street repairs for Medical Lake in 2014-2019.
“These are projects we think will score well on grants,” Ross said.
Most of the list remains the same from previous years, with the exception of improvements that are funded. The city hopes it can grade Brooks Road to aid water runoff, in an effort to keep the road at a permissible level of service.
“This plan doesn’t change a whole lot,” Ross said. “If we don’t get funding for projects, it doesn’t go off of the list.”
Higgins said Founder’s Day went well, thanking those involved in the organizational process.
The Department of Transportation was set to begin chip sealing Lake Street from the middle school and down the hill toward Silver Lake. Work was supposed to begin June 14, however was pushed back due to Founder’s Day and some wet weather after the community event.
James Eik can be reached at email@example.com.