Lengthy discussion by Shady Cove council on applying for COPS grant

The Shady Cove City Council meeting began on a light note, as all stood – they thought – to say the Pledge of Allegiance, but were pleasantly surprised to instead be asked by Mayor Ron Holthusen to sing "Happy Birthday" to Councilor Margaret Bradburn.

 

Bradburn passed around some very flattering photos of Councilor Leith
Hayes in his Shady Chick costume. Those gathered thought Councilor
Chick – rather Hayes’ – daffodil adorned hat was indeed his crowning
glory. Hayes accepted the compliments with great humor.
   
A
problem with folks walking their dogs on the middle school athletic
field and not picking up after them, was brought up by Bradburn. The
Council will look into city codes regarding picking up after pooches,
and receptacles have been placed around the field for same. However, it
would be appreciated if folks didn’t walk their dogs on the field, and
barring that it would be deeply appreciated if they could clean up any
messes.
   
The big topics and lengthy discussions of the evening fell under New Business.
   
The
first discussed was Resolution No. 09-08 – a Resolution to establish
fees and charges for floodplain development. The fees proposed in the
Resolution are $75 for Floodplain Development Review for small projects
not requiring onsite inspections and $350 for all other Development
Permits.
   
There were many ideas discussed and several
questions posed by all council members. Some thoughts included a
smaller fee – perhaps $25 – or no fee, for those who had existing
property and wished to bring it up to code. It was also noted that
frequently in the past fees had been lowered or waived for these
situations. The discussion ended with City Administrator, Elise
Smurzynski clarifying that previously the $350 charge had been applied
to all permits and the $75 was a new proposal to lower the cost of
smaller projects.
   
If passed, it was agreed the subject can
always be brought back again. In the end the existing Resolution was
passed 3/2 with Gary Hughes and Bill Kyle voting no.    
The
second item of new business which sparked lengthy discussion was
Resolution 09-09 – A Resolution to apply for a grant which would allow
the city to hire one new police officer. The grant would pay for the
new officer for three years and the city would pay for the 4th and
subsequent years.   
Both pluses and minuses of passing the
Resolution were discussed in depth. It was universally agreed that
having another officer would be a great benefit. Councilor Hughes had
researched the staffing of several area police departments and
concluded that adding another officer to Shady Cove would put them on
par for populace/police force with other area cities.
   
All
present felt they would like more time to make this decision, however
the city wasn’t notified of the grant until mid March and it has a mid
April submission deadline. It was a decision that had to be made at the
meeting.   
However, it was also agreed that though having a grant
to cover the first three years was a good thing, it was the 4th and
subsequent years that would pose a problem.    
   
Several
calculators were brought out and lots of math was done. The upshot of
said math is that it would cost the City between 80 and 100K for the
4th and following years for this one officer. Overtime pay was also
taken into account and it was calculated that approximately 30K would
be saved in the 3 "free" years, but would that be enough of a savings?
With the current financial state of city and county and no certainty of
future city growth, all this math was carefully considered.

Other
details considered were: if the Resolution were passed and the Grant
given, could the City then decline the grant? It was unknown if this
were a possibility. Would the gamble of paying the 4th year be made
less risky if liability issues were taken into account – i.e. which
would be more costly a Lawsuit involving the Police Department, or the
80K to pay the 4th year. Calculators came out again and it was decided
that if it became necessary to raise the Public Safety Fee to pay for a
4th year, it would be a $7.00 raise. However, it was also noted that in
unstable financial time it might need to be raised regardless of this
Resolution. Lastly the question was posed of "What happens if we hire
an Officer and they leave before the 4th year? Would the grant need to
be repaid?" The answer to that question was not known.   
In the end the Resolution failed 2/3. With Hughes, Bradburn and Hayes voting no.
   
The
meeting ended with a brief discussion regarding general spending
authorization criteria. What limits are appropriate will  be discussed
at the next council meeting. Bradburn surveyed area cities and most
have a current limit of $5000.
   
The meeting was adjourned at
8:35 PM and all present were invited to share in Councilor Bradburn’s
birthday dessert – home made chocolate covered cherries. Now there is a
reason to attend a City Council meeting.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent

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