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Hamilton sworn in

The Kelso City Council on Tuesday swore-in Andy Hamilton as the new city manager.

“And he’s official,” Mayor Nancy Malone said with a laugh immediately afterwards. “Boy can we give him a lot of work to do.”

Tuesday was Hamilton’s first day on the job.

Also during the meeting, the council held a public hearing on revenue sources for 2020. Finance Director Brian Butterfield recommended increasing the property tax rate next year by 1% — the maximum allowed. The measure will come back before council for final approval.

The city has budgeted a $499,000 deficit for 2020 due to larger roads and park projects, Butterfield said after the meeting. However, Kelso will likely make at least some of that up due to two unfilled police positions, he said.

Kelso had $4.8 million in reserves at the end of 2018, which Butterfield said was the best he’s seen during his 22 years with the city.

In addition, Community Development Director Michael Kardas announced that City Planner Tammy Baraconi has resigned to take a job with the City of Chehalis, which will pay her $9,000 more.

Kardas told the council that he will bring back a recommendation to increase the pay scale for Kelso’s planner position in order to recruit quality candidates.

In other business, the council:

  • Closed out a pavement repairs contract for Sunrise Street from Miller Drive to Corduroy Road and to Fishers Lane from Long Avenue to the railroad tracks.
  • Approved a franchise agreement with Verizon Wireless to install, operate and maintain a small cell wireless communication system within the Kelso right of way.

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