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Vlieger proposes publicly condemning councilmen who owe back taxes, fees

Sunnyside City Councilman Don Vlieger presented at Monday night's meeting a proposed amendment to the Council rules of procedure. The amendment is not set to be discussed by Council until the Jan. 19 meeting.

Vlieger provided audience members with a brief explanation as to why the Council adopts a set of rules to abide by. He said about four years ago, the Council adopted the rules of procedure. One of the problems the Council was facing at the time was low attendance. Vlieger said once the rules for attendance were adopted it made a big difference amongst the Council.

"Since we have a new Council coming in, I would like to set a high standard for ourselves," said Vlieger.

Vlieger's proposed amendment to the rules of procedure concerns councilmen and any public debt they might incur.

Vlieger presented his proposed amendment to the Council in a handout.

"One of a City Council member's primary responsibilities is the formation and approval of the city budget," Vlieger wrote in his proposal. "This includes determining city spending and revenue. It is incumbent on Council members to lead by example."

Vlieger said Council members need to lead by example, especially when dealing with finances for residents.

"It is hypocritical for a (Council) member to vote on taxes and fees when they themselves are delinquent on those taxes and fees," Vlieger further elaborated.

Vlieger outlined a set of steps to be taken if it comes to the Council's attention that any member is more than 60 days delinquent on any Sunnyside city tax or fee or Yakima County property tax bill. The steps include the Council's vote on a resolution of censure within two regular meetings of discovering the issue. The resolution of censure will also include all the information on the delinquent Council member's bill. Once the resolution is passed by Council, which will only require a simple majority, the censure will become an agenda item on every Council meeting agenda until the delinquent bill is paid. If the delinquent bill is owed to the City of Sunnyside, the member's stipend will be withheld until the bill is brought current.

Council members receive $40 per every regular meeting held.

Juan Aguilar asked Mayor Ed Prilucik if city residents will have an opportunity to discuss Vlieger's proposed amendment at the Jan. 19 meeting. The mayor said he would provide the public with ample time for input.

. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at mkantman@eaglenewspapers.com

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