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Pullman city bonds fail to pass due to technicality

Not enough voters participated, bonds will return in February

Adam+Lincoln%2C+Pullman%E2%80%99s+City+Supervisor%2C+gives+a+tour+of+the+Encounter+Ministries+as+it+might+become+the+new+Pullman+City+Hall+if+the+bond+passes+again.
Adam Lincoln, Pullman’s City Supervisor, gives a tour of the Encounter Ministries as it might become the new Pullman City Hall if the bond passes again.

Adam Lincoln, Pullman’s City Supervisor, gives a tour of the Encounter Ministries as it might become the new Pullman City Hall if the bond passes again.

MICHAEL LINDER | Daily Evergreen File

MICHAEL LINDER | Daily Evergreen File

Adam Lincoln, Pullman’s City Supervisor, gives a tour of the Encounter Ministries as it might become the new Pullman City Hall if the bond passes again.

IAN SMAY, Evergreen Reporter

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City of Pullman officials decided against passing two bonds that appeared on the ballot in November, despite both winning more than 60 percent of the vote.

City Attorney Laura McAloon advised the city to wait until the next election in February to pass the bonds, due to questions over whether they met requirements for passage.

“The city’s doing the best that it can with the situation and is going forward to February to ask the people to approve it,” McAloon said.

Proposition No. 1 would fund a new city hall and recreation center complex, among other projects, while Proposition No. 2 would fund repairs to city parks and paths.

McAloon said she could not recommend that the city approve the bonds’ passage, citing doubts from the county prosecutor’s office over the validity of doing so, as they failed to reach the required voter turnout of 40 percent of the last election turnout.

County Prosecutor Denis Tracy took his concerns over the validity of passing the bonds to the Whitman County government.

Pullman City Supervisor Adam Lincoln has the final say on whether the bonds pass. However, Lincoln said, the questions Tracy has raised over their validity could make the bonds harder to sell on the public market.

“The city attorney has to write an unqualified opinion if she was 99.9 percent sure that other bond council, judges and attorneys would agree with her decision [to recommend passing the bond],” Lincoln said.

McAloon and Lincoln also said that multiple county officials, including Tracy and Whitman County Auditor Eunice Coker, publicly voiced concerns over the bonds’ validity.

Tracy said that as a Whitman County official, it was his responsibility to explain his reservations to the county government if asked. He did not publicize his stance on the matter, he said, but local media reported publicly available communications between him and the county.

“My job is to advise the county government about legal questions and to give them my best assessment after doing the necessary research,” he said. “That’s all that I did.”

Coker denies she or her office made statements to the public or the media regarding the validity of the bonds, and said it is not the auditor’s place to make such comments.

“No one at the county has done anything to undermine or change or dispute the city’s decision,” Coker said.

While they deny making statements regarding the city’s original decision to declare the bonds as passed, Coker confirmed that her office provided city officials with validation numbers in response to the city submitting the bond resolutions for the next election.

At least 1,550 voters need to participate in the next election to pass resolutions. That number follows the same rule of 40 percent of the previous election, held in November.

This should make it easier for the bonds to pass, as fewer voters tend to turn out in odd-numbered years, Coker said. While this has set back the project’s timeline, Lincoln said Encounter Ministries, which owns the property and buildings that Proposition No. 1 would fund for a new city hall complex, has been cooperative.

“Encounter Ministries is OK with waiting to sell the property,” Lincoln said. “They are good with waiting for the upcoming election.”

Lincoln added that the three-month wait for a new election is the only setback this situation has caused.

About the Writer
IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

Ian Smay is a senior journalism & media production major, with an emphasis in broadcast news, from Dayton, Washington. He is also minoring in criminal...

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Pullman city bonds fail to pass due to technicality