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City of Pacific in danger of losing insurance coverage
The City of Pacific has until the end of the year to get its house in order or risk losing its insurance.
On July 2 Pacific Mayor Cy Sun received a letter from Wes Crago, chairman of the Cities Insurance Association of Washington, informing him that Pacific’s membership in the association would be cancelled effective Dec. 31. Along with its membership in the association, the city was also informed that it would be dropped by insurance carrier Canfield.
According to Pacific Councilman Gary Hulsey, the loss of insurance would be disastrous for the City.
“If we lose our insurance it will take us a while to get another,” he said. “That would mean that no official City vehicles or machinery would be able to operate. You need insurance to have them on the road. And each employee and official would be personally liable for anything that went wrong. Effectively, we’d have to shut the City down. If I were a City employee, and we didn’t have insurance, I wouldn’t show up for work.”
According to Crago’s letter, the cancellation is in response to the city’s “failure to employ qualified personnel” in positions that could expose the City to litigation.
Currently the City is without several key department heads, including: the city clerk and personnel director; the police chief; the community services director; the public works and community development director; the City engineer and the building inspector and code enforcement officer.
Canfield declined to comment on the specifics of it’s concerns, but Councilman Tren Walker said he believed the lack of a public works director and City engineer was one of the main reasons for the insurance carrier’s concern.
“There is nobody in those positions, they’ve been gone the longest,” he said. “And we have two major road projects in the works. Luckily Sumner has taken the lead on the Valentine Road project, but there is still the Stewart Road construction.”
One option the City is exploring to satisfy Canfield is using an interlocal agreement with Auburn to provide vital city services, such as building inspections.
According to Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis, he met with Sun to discuss the possibility of providing services to Pacific.
“We talked about the possibilities,” Lewis said. “We already provide services to other cities around us, and they provide services to us.”
“It’s what we all do,” he said. “We talked about a number of things, but I told him that their attorney needs to talk to our attorney.”
Whatever remedies Pacific takes, they’ll have to come quick, according to Crago’s letter.
“The CIAW Board of Directors, through its administrator Canfield, is willing to reconsider this action, but we will need to see swift, concrete and verifiable deeds to bring a more stable and professional environment to the City of Pacific.”
ALSO: The Pacific City Council took action Monday to ensure it will continue to have legal representation by passing an ordinance wresting control of the hiring and firing of the City attorney from the mayor.
Ordinance 12-1826 repealed the chapter in the Pacific Municipal Code that put the power of hiring and firing the City attorney and City prosecutor in the hands of the mayor. The ordinance switched the positions to contract employee positions, which would require a vote by the council to hire or fire the City attorney and prosecutor.
City attorney Kenyon Luce will continue to serve as the City’s attorney, negating a 30-day termination notice he had received from Sun last month.