As Eureka City Councilman Lance Madsen stepped down, Chet Albin was administered the oath of office to fill the vacant 5th Ward seat.
Albin, a retired insurance broker, was sworn in after the council followed Mayor Frank Jager's recommendation and voted unanimously, with Madsen abstaining, to appoint him. He will serve the remainder of Madsen's term, which ends in November 2014.
”I don't think enough can be said about what Lance Madsen has done for the city of Eureka,” Humboldt County 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn said during public comment. “With that said, I think you've made a great decision in Chet (Albin). I know it was a tough choice because you had three good people.”
Leslie Lollich, a public education and outreach officer for the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, and Barry Smith, president of Barry Smith Construction, also applied.
Madsen announced in October that he was stepping down due to health reasons.
With a new council member sitting at the dais, the council directed staff to move forward with an excessive electricity tax measure.
The council voted unanimously to have PG&E survey the city's electric meters to determine how many customers are 600 percent above baseline - or three times more than the average household.
”I think because the Board of Supervisors are moving forward with a study, I don't think as a city we want to be left behind,” Councilwoman Melinda Ciarabellini said. “Because if they implement it, and Arcata implements it, where are they going to move to with the grow houses? I think we need to be on board with it. I would be in favor of moving it forward and having more discussion later.”
Arcata voters passed Measure I, a marijuana grow tax, in November 2012 to assesses a 45 percent tax on residences that use more than 600 percent of the energy baseline after the city learned its residential electricity use from 2000 to 2006 increased by 30 percent. It went into effect this fall.
The survey is estimated to cost $1,000, and should take two to four weeks to complete.
In other business, the council agreed to hold off on a plastic bag ban until it receives more information.
”I wouldn't mind looking into this,” Councilwoman Linda Atkins said. “I'm not sure if I'm for or against it, but I wouldn't mind having it fleshed out.”
Earlier this month, the city of Arcata adopted an ordinance that bans single-use plastic bags at most businesses within city limits. Under the ordinance, which will be implemented Feb. 1, single-use bags are prohibited at grocery and convenience food stores, pharmacies and retail businesses. A paper bag made of at least 40 percent post-consumer recyclable materials will be offered for 10 cents, and the money will be kept by the retailer.
The council also directed staff to shelf a proposed commercial food waste collection program, and to work with Humboldt Waste Management Authority to develop a local food waste facility.
Continuing the program, which was implemented after HWMA received a $200,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to perform the one-year pilot program, would have cost between $450,000 to $500,000 for full implementation, or about $287,000 to $315,000 for a limited program, according to city staff.
Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.