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Pacific prepares for insurance cancellation
Hope that the City of Pacific’s insurance would continue past Dec. 31 was dashed on Monday with the announcement that the City’s insurer had declined a request for an extension.
Pacific residents were informed of the decision made by the board of the Cities Insurance Association of Washington at a well-attended city council meeting Monday evening in the Pacific gym.
According to Councilmember Joshua Putnam, the CIAW board listened to a presentation by new Pacific City Clerk Patricia Kirkpatrick before meeting in a half-hour executive session. Putnam added that no board member motioned to consider the request.
“So with no action, the existing cancellation of our membership stands,” Putnam said. “That insurance will be going away Dec. 31.”
Putnam said that he was directed after the meeting to notify the CIAW if controversial Mayor Cy Sun resigned.
“That is the only thing that will satisfy them at this point,” Putnam said. “They do not trust him to implement the changes he has proposed because he has not followed through on past commitments to them.”
In a statement released on Tuesday, CIAW Chairman Wes Crago wrote that his organization had not specifically asked for Sun’s resignation.
“We have never asked for such a thing from any member,” Crago wrote. “That is a matter for the City of Pacific to consider.”
“...the Board will gladly welcome the City of Pacific back to our pool if the government operations stabilize and the City leadership can work together to appropriately manage and minimize risk.”
The City was notified in July that its insurance would not be renewed beyond
Dec. 31 because of Sun’s actions with respect to city staff. At the time every department head in the City had either resigned or been fired by the mayor.
Without the extension, the City is now forced to consider several options, including annexation, disincorporation or finding a new insurer, likely at a much higher cost.
Without insurance, the City would likely shut down services rather than risk personal liability to City staff, council and police.
“We’re still actively seeking insurance, and I’m optimistic,” Council President Leanne Guier said.
Last week the City hosted a special meeting to consider a resolution setting into motion a possible annexation into neighboring Auburn.
Although Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis said he hopes that Pacific remains a city, Auburn notified the Boundary Review Board to start the process, should it be needed.
“I’ve said before this is not plan A, this is not plan B, but it’s better than plan Z (disincorporation),” Putnam said.
The council voted to continue the annexation discussion next Monday.
“It’s really tough to sit here as a councilmember and make this decision,” Guier said. “All I can think of is what is the best decision for the most people in this city.”
Although the CIAW insists it isn’t lobbying for the resignation of Sun, several audience members at Monday’s meeting were.
“There is one person who has caused this problem, and he needs to solve it,” DuWayne Gratz told the council during public comment. “It is Cy Sun. Cy Sun has caused all this, and all he has to do is resign tomorrow and our insurance company will consider giving us insurance. All this other stuff goes off the table.”
Cheri Cason, however, believed there is plenty of blame to go around.
“I was at the meeting last week and listened to many of the residents place the responsibility for this crisis solely on the council and the mayor,” she said. “We are a city of over 6,000 people. We’ve only got 2,500 registered voters, and only about 100 are here tonight. That’s only two percent of our population. We’re in this crisis because we have not been paying attention to business.”
Mayor Sun did not attend the meeting. He sent a letter stating he was taking time off to deal with an illness suffered by his wife.
ALSO: The City of Pacific passed a motion to pony up $25,000 to settle former City Clerk Jane Montgomery’s lawsuit against the City. Montgomery had filed a claim for $2.2 million against the City. The City’s insurance carrier will pay for the remainder of the undisclosed settlement. The push to recall Mayor Sun continues, according to Committee to Recall Cy Sun attorney Jeffrey Helsdon. The Washington State Supreme Court is looking at the case as Sun has appealed a King County Superior Court decision that there were two claims made by the Committee that were sufficient enough to put the recall before voters. Now the state supreme court will look at all of the claims made in the committee’s statement of charges and decide whether there is any merit to the claim that Sun violated his oath of office. After a judgement is made, recall supporters will have to collect 405 signatures to get the recall on the ballot.