City Council votes to reorganize M&O division

Lawson Garden Home Motion postponed, fireworks and financial reports presented

MOLLY WILK, Evergreen reporter

Pullman City Council voted Tuesday night to authorize reorganization of the Maintenance and Operation Division. 

M&O Superintendent Art Garro presented his suggestions for reorganizing the division to make it more accessible to employees and community members. 

Garro stated all the proposed changes would coincide with the 2022 M&O budget and would lead to efficient workflow. 

Seven positions were reassigned divisions or restructured including the addition of an M&O business division, taking over some of Garro’s direct reports. Garro suggested moving the current M&O accountant to the business division manager. 

Garro proposed the information service technician, administrative assistant and finance accounting specialist move to the business division as well. The equipment rental division will move to the business division. The current part-time office administrator will become a full-time administrative specialist. 

Public Works Director Shawn Kohtz sought a motion to approve advancement on the council’s previously selected Lawson Garden House. 

The project was originally voted on and approved to serve as an indoor and outdoor space to hold events. The house was to be made up of some interior spaces with a large outdoor pavilion leading to the gardens. 

The project was originally approved in 2018 with a budget of $1.3 million and received eight construction bids. The lowest of the bids came in over-budget at around $2 million and the project was put on hold due to COVID-19. 

During the delay, construction prices rose dramatically. At this time, a rebid may be as high as $2.7 million. 

Alan Davis, park and facilities director, and Kohtz proposed several different alterations that could be made to the original design including taking out windows, making the building smaller or using cheaper materials. 

After discussion, the council moved to postpone the motion until the next meeting on Aug. 14. 

City Administrator Mike Urban gave a financial update covering revenue from sales, property, utility taxes and more. Urban also presented expense reports for legislative, law enforcement, the library and others. 

Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins presented fireworks-related call reports from this summer. Jenkins said from June 28 to July 6, PPD responded to 11 calls, the lowest number in the same time period since the fireworks ordinance was adopted in 2006. 

Pullman Fire Marshall Chris Wehrung presented a fireworks report from July 4 weekend. Wehrung said all four reported fires were caused by legal fireworks and those responsible were issued warnings.

None of the four fires caused any property damage and all participants stood by until the fire department arrived. One incident resulted in an injury and Wehrung said first responders saved the victim’s life at the scene with a tourniquet.