Black Diamond one step closer to shutdown, dysfunction continues

by: Henry Rosoff Updated:

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BLACK DIAMOND, Wash. - The City of Black Diamond once again moved a step closer to a government shutdown-- one that would mean no police, no water and no sewer service.

At a council meeting Thursday night, citizens in Black Diamond expressed their opinions with impassioned pleas for their leaders to pass a budget.

“This city is the laughing stock of not just King County, but Western Washington,” said one man.

“It’s about time you do your job,” said another man.

If the council fails to pass a budget by March 31, the city will shut down.

This is the second time the council has approached a shutdown.

In late 2016, serious disagreements about the planned development of 6,000 homes in the tiny town spilled into the budget process.

Councilman Brian Weber, with the support of Councilwoman Erika Morgan and Councilwoman Pat Pepper proposed last minute budget changes.

The 2016 budget battle was punctuated by Mayor Carol Benson and Morgan fighting over the gavel during a particularly contentious meeting.

Finally, late last year, the council passed a temporary budget that would carry the city through March.

Council members promised to work together moving forward at that time.

However, Thursday night the dysfunction continued.

Weber was criticized for not being more prepared for the meeting because of a recent vacation he took.

Later in the evening, Pepper got mad at Benson for not keeping the crowd in line.

Pepper brought the whole meeting to a halt for a bizarre 15 minute standoff, during which time she demanded a vote to express disagreement with the mayor’s inaction.

In the end, Weber, Pepper and Morgan voted to put off any budget decision to early March, as many of the dozens of citizens booed and stormed out of the meeting.