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American inventor, Ken Hakuta said, “Lack of money is no obstacle. Lack of an idea is an obstacle.” This quote is particularly applicable to Thursday’s Shady Cove City Council study session and meeting where monetary matters dominated the discussions. Hakuta would be proud – for it seems the tighter the purse strings become; the more creative and out of the box becomes the council’s thinking.    Five different topics scattered throughout the study session and meeting required the council to search for ideas in lieu of cash. First up was a discussion regarding a county owned house in the park. The county – also short of funds – no longer wants the responsibility of renting out or even maintaining the property. They’ve given the city the option to take over the rental duties. Of course there’s the small matter of the circa $20,000 price tag to make the building fit for human use.

The council decided to pass on the County’s offer, but is considering a counter proposal – that the county “rent” the city the house long term – for say $1.00 a year – thus giving the city time to repair the building one bit at a time.

New signage for city hall and the community center was also discussed. Council received a new design and price for the sign, and though everyone loved the idea, the $10,000 estimate was yet again far more than the budget can bear. Thinking caps back on; the council agreed to go with the community center’s proposal to re-paint the current sign and will ask them to choose a color compatible with the street side buildings.

Moving into the evening the council had the first reading of an ordinance adjusting the spending limit for administration from $10,000 down to $5,000K– when you can’t enlarge the budget you can at least keep a closer eye on it. In the budget vein the council also added two preliminary budget meetings to the 2010 calendar – these will proceed the “big annual” regularly scheduled April budget meeting. Their goal is twofold: one of the pre-meetings will be in the form of a town hall meeting wherein citizens can weigh in on budgetary matters. Additionally they hope having more meetings will better prepare the budget committee and stream line the “big” April meeting, hopefully shaving off some of the 6+ hours the meeting took last year.

Additionally, budget committee member Olin Shanrock’s term will expire in March. Following the precedent they set with appointments to the planning commission, the city will be taking applications for this opening beginning in January.    Lastly in the vein of money was Councilor Margaret Bradburn’s report on local business. She advised that local hotels/motels and laundromats are being hard hit by sewage and waste water fees. In each case, the fees are charged whether the facilities are used or not. One laundromat will close altogether due to this particular hardship.

With the city budget being what it is, there simply is nothing the city can do to help these businesses. The mayor noted that this financial state isn’t going away any time soon and that all businesses feeling the strain need to help themselves – a la the “lack of ideas is an obstacle” theory. Councilor Hayes noted that for the most part the same few business owners attended local meetings. All felt the first step business owners could take to help themselves would be to join with their peers and attend the Shady Cove Business Association meetings. The mayor commenting that in troubled times there is “strength in numbers”.

Two key non-financial matters were also covered in the evening meeting.

At the meeting’s start the mayor presented the Student of the Month awards for December. Recipients were Austin Harris (elementary) and Cameron Anderson (middle school). Both boys’ praises were sung by their respective teachers and each excels academically and athletically. The awards were a welcome breath of fresh air amidst meetings full of financial gloom. The immediate future may bring more economic strain – but with students like these two on their way to adulthood the long term future outlook is bright indeed.

The last item scheduled on the agenda was a consideration of a resolution regarding the LNG pipeline. When the item was reached the Mayor stated, “I think we’re going to postpone this item.” However, before Councilor Bradburn had a full blown panic attack, the joke was out, serious faces broke into smiles and the discussion begun.Bradburn’s fear at the thought of postponement was justified as the pipeline has been approved. Digging is to start in Trail in July. Per Bradburn it is thought the matter will go to court and the construction will be at worst delayed at best halted.

The Resolution states the city’s firm opposition to the pipeline in no uncertain terms. Reasons include: potential damage to homes and the environment and the facts that Oregon will receive little if any of the natural gas and that the gas will not come from the U.S., but from foreign countries with “unstable” governments.

The resolution passed 5/0 and will be signed and faxed to the Governor and all elected officials immediately. On a final note: if courts and resolutions cannot stop the pipeline – Councilor Bradburn would like to see a “mass protest” when the first equipment arrives at the construction site.

If the “lack of an idea” truly is an obstacle, the immediate path before city council seems pretty clear of debris.

By Christy Pitto

Of the Independent

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