The Centralia City Council on Tuesday approved to use the special appropriations fund, allocating $9,000 to the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce for the purchase of personal protective equipment for local first responders and $9,000 to United Way and Twin Transit, which are working to deliver meals to Lewis County seniors.
Centralia Finance Director Brent Brodersen told the council that the total amount in the city’s special appropriations fund is $18,072. Councilor Peter Abbarno suggested that the city split the contents of the fund and donate equal amounts to aid local first responders and deliver meals to local seniors.
“If money was unlimited, an unlimited amount of money would go toward both,” Abbarno said. “I like walking out here lock-step, arm-in-arm saying both of these funds are equally important and we just came in and gave them that entire fund split in half and we will do whatever we can to help support the seniors and the first responders.”
Councilor Kelly Smith Johnston asked what the fund would normally be used for and if the money would be needed further on down the road. City Manager Rob Hill said that the fund is available for emergencies at the council’s discretion.
The motion to allocate the funds to each organization passed unanimously.
In other business, Centralia City Light and Public Works have closed to public access. Regarding utility bills, the council passed a motion deciding that there will be no disconnects for overdue bills, late fees will be temporarily suspended and residential customers will not be sent to collections for failure to pay a bill during the COVID-19 emergency.
“We are taking some immediate steps but that doesn’t mean these are going to be the only steps,” said Councilor Rebecca Staebler, regarding assistance on utility bills.
Emil Pierson, Centralia Community Development director, said that all of the city’s parks are open and in accordance with the governor’s recommendations.
“At the parks department, we are focusing on making sure people have a place to go to get outside and walk, enjoy the outdoors and get some fresh air but be in a safe environment. The city has a lot of walking trails — Riverside Park and Borst Park as well as Discovery Trail and if you didn’t know Borst Avenue is a walking system so you can walk up and down that a couple of times and get a couple of miles in,” said Pierson.
Parking has been limited to stop the build-up of trash in certain locations and the restrooms have been closed but there are porta-potties with handwashing stations in place.
Community Development has transitioned to doing all business online and over the phone. Building inspections are available upon request.