Establishing a sister city in China could present numerous benefits to Grant County, the John Day City Council learned April 24.
Taci Philbrook from Grant County Chamber of Commerce presented a proposal to establish a sister city relationship between John Day and Sijiuzhen, a city in the Guangdong Province in China, or Canton, the provincial capital.
Ha-Pen, a village in Sijiuzhen, is where Doc Hay and Lung On, owners of the historic Kam Wah Chung business in John Day, lived before coming to the United States in the late 19th century. At its peak, about 1,000 Chinese lived in John Day’s “Tiger Town,” Philbrook said.
Sister city relationships not only foster tourism and cultural and educational exchanges but also establish contacts that lead to trade and investment, Philbrook said.
“Generally, Chinese cities take their sister city relationships seriously,” she said.
Philbrook said Don Merritt, the museum curator at the Kam Wah Chung Heritage Site, partnered with the chamber and supports the idea of promoting the heritage site.
There would be no cost to the city of John Day, Philbrook said. The chamber would cover the cost of the annual membership. The council approved the sister city proposal by consensus.
In other city council news, City Manger Nick Green read highlights from his five-page budget message for the next fiscal year. The city’s net position has increased by more than $2.8 million, he said. External funding, such as grants, accounted for $2.6 million. The city had to contribute matching funds of $67,500 for the grants, but for every dollar of taxpayer’s money spent on the matches, the city raised $40 in external funding, he said.
“We made more money in external investment last year than from all local revenue sources combined,” Green said.
In addition to external funds, the city saved about $350,000 by consolidating a number of loans through Washington Federal, which saved interest and origination fees. The city also expects save $20,000 to $30,000 per year by transitioning the 911 dispatch center to another jurisdictional authority.
A public hearing for the proposed budget will be held at the council’s May 22 meeting.