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News Roundup - Law could be changed back/Order native plants now/Tell FEMA your troubles/Meet Clinton supporters/Code changes on the agenda

Law could be changed back

Last year, to improve efficiency, an ordinance was passed that extended the mayor’s authority to settle contracts.

This year, citing the same reason, the council may take that authority back.

“Much of it has to do with the new dynamic on this council,” said Council Chair Bill Knobloch. “There’s a new financial landscape we’re dealing with and we have to look for ways to become more efficient.”

Passed in April, Ordinance 2007-04 authorized the mayor or her designee to approve contracts with a value of $25,000 in a given year, if the funds have been appropriated in the budget; that number jumped to $100,000 effective Jan. 1.

Prior to the change that limit stood at $10,000.

The change was controversial because some said it gave the mayor too much authority to make decisions without the blessing of the council.

Knobloch said it troubled some of his colleagues, who tonight will see the first reading of an amendment that, if passed, would return the number back to $25,000.

The change would take effect March 1.

“It’s about having better awareness as we make decisions regarding the city’s finances,” Knobloch said.

Order native plants now

The Kitsap Conservation District is now taking orders for its annual plant sale, which will feature more than 25 varieties of native plants.

“Bare earth is a weed magnet,” said Jeannette Franks, chair of Bainbridge Island’s Weed Warriors, one of several community groups urging island residents to take advantage of the sale. “This is an excellent time to plant native plants.”

Whereas nursery plants often come at a premium, the KCD’s prices are a yearly draw. Ten Douglas fir trees 12 to 18 inches tall, for instance, cost $8, or 80 cents a tree. Purchased 10 at a time, salal plants in four-inch pots are $2.70 each.

While these plants are small, that’s the size that survives best, said Deborah Rudnick, chair of the Bainbridge Island Watershed Council, which is also promoting the sale.

Native plant proponents cite numerous benefits to adding natives to the garden. Aside from creating an “authentic” Northwest look they’re adapted to the area’s climate and soil and as a result, need less care once established.

They also provide food and cover for native birds and other wildlife, whose own life cycles are often tuned to the times when specific native plants flower or produce seed.

Migrating rufous hummingbirds, for example, arrive just before flowering red currants bloom. And gardeners who plant natives don’t need to worry that they will inadvertently plant the next ivy or scotch broom – two of the many ornamental plants that wound up growing out of control in our gentle, damp climate.

To purchase plants through the Kitsap Conservation District’s sale, homeowners can print an order form that’s included in the district’s winter newsletter, which is posted on the agency’s website: www.kitsapcd.org” www.kitsapcd.org. Orders must be mailed or faxed by Jan. 31.

Plant pickup will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. Feb. 29 and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 1 at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Silverdale.

For more information, contact the Kitsap Conservation District at (360) 337-7171 or Jeannette Franks of Weed Warriors, jfranks@bainbridge.net.

Tell FEMA your troubles

Storm damage victims must register with the Federal Emergency Management Administration by Feb. 7 to qualify for individual relief funds.

Residents must apply to FEMA separately even if they have already reported damage to Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management. Registered storm victims will receive a package of information and forms to complete and return to FEMA.

For more information see www.fema.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.

Meet Clinton supporters

With the state caucus nearing, Kitsap supporters of democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have announced a training and strategy session.

Clinton backers will meet at the Poulsbo Fire House on Liberty Road Feb. 2 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Attendees will be trained on how the complex caucus system works and how boost turnout in their neighborhoods. Tips will also be given on how to bring undecided caucusers into Clinton’s camp.

Local Clinton campaign efforts are being organized by Bainbridge’s Maura Brueger who is a member of Clinton’s steering committee for Washington State.

For information about the event or to RSVP contact Brueger at (206) 919-5509.

Code changes on the agenda

The Planning Commission will discuss a series of proposed code changes downtown – including increased building density in the core district – at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

First proposed in late 2006, the changes originally would have increased both building height and density. An alternative proposal now would leave building heights downtown the same, but increase the allowable density.

None of the changes would take effect until after approval by the City Council, though the Planning Commission likely will influence the final decision.

Commissioners have had a dozen meetings about the issue.

Talks were put on hold last fall, but resumed with a review session at the commission’s Jan. 9 meeting.

A presentation of a recently completed economic impact analysis by an independent firm will be included in the discussion Thursday.

Commissioners also will hold a study session regarding proposed changes to the city’s light manufacturing code.

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