Irony can be defined as something which is: both coincidental and contradictory in humorous or poignant and extremely improbable way. It is safe to say that it is horribly ironic that one of the major concerns for Shady Cove – a city in a near perpetual state of hand wringing over lack of water – is Flood Plain Management.
Council held a special work session on Tuesday January 26th to discuss this issue, and it was a work session of epic proportion and duration. The main purpose of the meeting was to make recommendations to staff on whether or not to proceed with a new contract proposal from Public Works Management, Inc. However the main topic of the meeting became money. Staying off of FEMA probation and on their good side is an expensive task, both for the city and its citizens.
The contract at hand calls for the city to pay a minimum of approximately $3,000 per month to PWM by way of a retainer for certain set services. Any additional work would be paid by the city on an hourly basis. With nearly 200 homes left to inspect, it seemed to all present that the full process could get very expensive.
Options were considered – nothing has been decided as this was only a work session. Staff may solicit bids from other public works companies and some of the overall cost may be passed on to homeowners (above the $75 or $350 inspection fees currently charged). Joe Strahl and Becca Croft of PWM felt confident the new retainer system was giving the city the “best bang for its buck” and that time will prove the work will remain within the city’s budget for same.
Community concerns also centered largely on the financial, some homeowners looking at paying out up to $50,000 to bring their homes up to code. Other concerns voiced surrounded documentation of various types. Folks would like easy access to documentation on what violations are being worked on currently. Also they would like more concrete documentation to be on file once their property has been inspected and especially once it has been deemed compliant. A third type of documentation inquired about was past ordinances which would apply to older homes. A home which has had no major improvements must only be up to the standards set in the year it was built: i.e. a home built in 1970 need only meet 1970 codes – those are a bit hard for owners and contractors to get their hands on.
Lastly Council, PWM and Citizens alike all agreed that current ordinances need to be cleaned up with errors and inconsistencies removed.
A final issue of council concern was that the quarterly report had been sent to FEMA without the council having seen it. The report states the city will have all homes inspected within 3 years. Council felt this was not a realistic goal. Croft advised she was confident FEMA wouldn’t hold fast to the 3 year deadline; that their main concern was to see continuous progress being made. Still, future reports will come to Council before going to FEMA.
With so many houses to tackle at such expense to all, council heartily encourages folks to step up and get voluntary inspections/corrections. It is also hoped that
Croft will be able to have some set office hours within Shady Cove making her more accessible to folks in need.
It was decided that the contract with PWM will have some clarifications added and will
come before council for potential signing in February.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent