Pacific City Council members officially put dissolving the city on the table Tuesday night as a last resort to solve its problems.
The resolution that members voted to file with the state auditor is only a first step to disincorporation, a move city leaders hope to avoid, council president Leanne Guier said. The council has until Dec. 28 to go through with disincorporation or rescind the resolution.
“We’re trying desperately not to do this, but we have to have a backup plan,” Guier said.
The city’s insurance provider has said it will stop coverage at the end of the year if the situation in Pacific doesn’t stabilize. A letter the provider sent the city in July cites vacant positions as one of its concerns.
A Pierce County Superior Court judge in September ordered Mayor Cy Sun to fill seven vacant or temporarily filled positions of employees who resigned or were fired under Sun’s tenure, three of whom were appointed last month.
One of the hires was a city clerk. Sun fired the previous person after he was arrested trying to enter her office in July, and she since has filed for wrongful termination.
If Pacific’s insurance coverage ends, Guier said, employees such as police officers could assume liability while on the job.
The city would need to disincorporate as soon as possible in that scenario, Guier said.
The resolution sets a timeline in motion that would let the city hold a February special election to disincorporate.
However, councilmembers still have alternatives to consider.
They sent a letter last week to “pretty much anybody that holds an elected office,” asking them to help Pacific keep its insurance, Guier said.
The letter was a Hail Mary, she acknowledged, but other options to save Pacific also were presented Tuesday.
The council has sent emails to the cities touching Pacific’s borders – Algona, Auburn, Edgewood, Milton and Sumner – to see if they’d be open to consolidation.
They haven’t received any definite answers, Guier said.
Another solution discussed Tuesday is other entities, such as the King or Pierce County sheriff, extending insurance coverage to Pacific. But no one is sure what that would look like, or if local agencies would be willing.
The little city on the King-Pierce county line, with about 6,600 residents, could see two special elections next year.
A campaign is in the works to recall Sun, pending a Supreme Court decision.
Sun appealed a ruling by a King County Superior Court judge in October to let the campaign move forward with collecting signatures for an election to oust the mayor.
The lower court decided that two allegations of the recall campaign, that Sun failed to hire police officers and ordered members of the department to act as his “personal police force,” would be grounds for a recall if true.
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268