64.1 F
Sunday, May 24, 2020

Whatcom County Council tables an emergency ordinance

The ordinance was set up to respond to the economic crisis within Whatcom County

A screen capture of Whatcom County Council’s virtual meeting held on May 5. // Screen capture by Courtney Gullett via Zoom

By Courtney Gullett

The Whatcom County Council voted on an ordinance establishing a COVID-19 interim economic recovery plan to respond to the economic crisis within the county. The ordinance was ultimately withdrawn from the agenda after a 5-2 vote, with councilmembers Byrd and Elenbaas opposed. 

Councilmember Rud Browne presented this ordinance to the rest of the council. He said the goal is to kick off the economic recovery phase of COVID-19. 

“COVID is about responding to health and safety issues with a lot of businesses that the health department doesn’t interact with,” Browne said. “To reach out to all those other businesses will take a lot of man-hours.” 

This ordinance would establish a committee of nine to 13 individuals who have had experience dealing with an economic downturn. These committee members would help with messaging and advise, Browne said.

Browne said that recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19 will require  individuals with business and economic backgrounds, not just public health officials. The ordinance would work closely with current economic business partners such as the Port of Bellingham and Team Whatcom. 

“I think that what the council would be doing by adopting this measure is creating an opportunity for the business community and public health department to work collaboratively together to bring recommendations back,” Steven Oliver, Whatcom County treasurer, said. 

Councilmember Ben Elenbaas brought up concerns that this new ordinance won’t solve any issues not currently being dealt with. 

“I can’t support it,” Elenbaas said. “I feel like the resources are there for economic development, public health experts are already in place, we know what works and it is time to start moving forward. We don’t need to study this until we are blue in the face.” 

The main concern Elenbaas said he has with this ordinance is creating too many guidelines for businesses to open back up. He said this ordinance is putting money into operations that are already in place. 

Elenbaas said the focus should be on the immediate needs of the small business owners. He also noted businesses just want to open their doors, they are not focused on streamlining. 

Cash flow is the number one thing to focus on, businesses can still go under even with their doors open, Browne said. 

The ordinance was tabled as an emergency ordinance and will be reintroduced in two weeks as a regular agenda item. Browne said he will take the council’s suggestions and continue to work on the ordinance.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Must Read

Sports: Pros and cons of Seahawks’ NFL draft pick Malik McDowell

Why did the Seahawks go after a defensive tackle with their first selection in the 2017 NFL draft? Coming off...

Resident advisers hold open forum with university officials to discuss concerns

Written by: Bram Briskorn and Questen Inghram Over 300 people packed into Arntzen Hall, room 100 as if it were...

Bellingham chef delivers meals to the vulnerable during COVID-19

Illustration of Ona Lee, chef and founder of Clara's Canning Co., with food, trees and flowers....

Latest News

Bellingham artist creates Washington-themed board game printed on bandanna

Bradley James Lockhart’s Evergreen Bandana Game surpasses its Kickstarter goal by over $9,000

City of Bellingham forecasts a $9.6 million deficit for 2020’s budget

Bellingham City Councilmember Pinky Vargas stated that these forecasts “seem a little optimistic.” An illustration...

Spring student art exhibit postponed

Bachelors of Fine Art student exhibit postponed until Sept. 23 The Bachelors of Fine...

Makeworth Market makes it work

Bellingham business celebrates one-year anniversary amidst COVID-19 restrictions The exterior of Makeworth Market dressed with balloons...

SAIRC provides student support

Campus organization puts on digital events and resources spring quarter A display of the AS...

More Articles Like This