Whatcom County Council voted to accept an almost $40,000 bid to repair Flynn Road Fishtrap Creek Bridge on April 20. The bid enters Whatcom County into a contract with Combined Construction Inc.
Public Works Department Director Jon Hutchings presented the bid to the council. Hutchings said the bridge serves a rural part of the county and prevents farm traffic from needing to be rerouted to Guide Meridian.
James McCafferty, director of the Center for Economic and Business Research, said he believes the county is financially struggling.
“The drop in sales also means a drop in sales tax,” McCafferty said. ”That hits city and county budgets hard.”
If enough of them are going on, these bids will help stimulate the economy, McCafferty said. McCafferty and Hutchings agree that getting people back to work will help stimulate the economy.
“We can get these projects out on the ground and get people to work, [this] is an important component of this recovery conversation,” Hutchings said.
Contracted companies are required to have a COVID-19 response plan in place, Hutchings said.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Friday, April 24 that some construction may resume following health guidelines. The Washingon State Department of Labor and Industry will be taking workplace complaints on health and safety.
“Our culture as a company was built around family. We are a close tight knit, family operated company,” Combined Construction Inc. said on their website. “Given this family oriented culture, safety is a priority.”
Councilmember Tyler Byrd said he had some concerns regarding the economy being able to open back up.
Timber tax is a large income for the county but timber mills are only being opened one day a week, according to Byrd. The impact that this lack of timber could have on taxes is not yet known, Byrd said.
“I want to make sure that you have the money you're accounting for, and that we are also looking at opportunities to bring more money abroad to really drive home these projects,” Byrd said. “We know they have a significant impact on the economy.”
The funding for this project comes from the Road Fund.The Road Fund is a property tax driven fund. Under the existing budget authority, the fund is expected to have about $16 million left at the end of the year, Hutchings said.
Despite some concerns, the council voted to pass the bid unanimously.