THE KINDEST CUT OF ALL – Proof positive that still Town Administrator and Planner John Doyle cuts, if not takes, the cake. Over thirty people came to the reception to wish the retiring Doyle farewell. He will be coasting come 2018. The inevitable sign of the times. – Photo by Ken Stern
At its last meeting of 2017, the La Conner Town Council approved its 2018 budget with a rare dissenting vote, again from John Leaver. The $5.42 million expenditure budget is $66,500 above 2016’s, 1.24 percent. The $4.65 million revenue budget is $843,000 below 2016’s, 15.33 percent. The revenue drop is primarily in the street fund, which is $707,700 less. The 2016 expenditures were for reconstruction of North Third Street. Primarily a stasis budget, it passed after three months of Council review. No person spoke at the public hearing portion of the meeting. The contract with the Skagit County Sheriff’s office is for $303,000, a $78,000 incease. During his Utilities Committee report, Council Member Jacques Brunisholz stressed that “the public needs to know that money isn’t there” for replacing water mains from Highway 20 into town. The largess of the 1970s federal government is a thing of the past, but the infrastructure needs still require funding, he said. Council also passed, unani-mously a resolution for closing on the fire hall purchase. The Council agreed to cancel the Dec. 26 meeting. Bill Stokes was elected mayor pro-tem by his colleagues. Stokes, Leaver and Mary Lee Chamberlain were sworn in for new terms, having been elected in November. Mayor Ramon Hayes’ ending statement was in praise of retiring Administrator and Planner John Doyle. “John has served this town exceedingly well for 16 years, above and beyond the call of duty. He has served the town, me and its employees,” he noted, as everyone rose in a standing ovation. Doyle cut cake afterward at a reception in his honor in Maple Hall’s main hall, Guests included County Commissioner Ron Wessen and Sheriff Will Reichardt along with members of the arts, parks and planning commissions, friends, residents and project consultants. Former Weekly News co-publisher Sandy Stokes praised Doyle for his commitment to open government. “After John began his administration, the town just opened up,” she said. “There’s really great access to the people’s business, and I am really grateful.” Wesson praised Doyle for being instrumental in getting the boardwalk built. Town staffers Maria De Goede and Lori Clumpner expressed gratitude, Clumpner praising “the joy John brought to the office. Long-time friend Bill Turner shared a common sentiment, that “John is always interested in making things better. He is devoted to his community.” Reflecting on a long-ago trip to California, Turner, recounted “and, after a few bottles of wine, he told a few stories. That’s the part of you I like best, John.” A lot of people like lots about John Doyle. He will be missed.