Shady Cove hears 2nd option for water system

Four folks comprised the audience at the Feb. 3rd Shady Cove council meeting. It was the polar opposite of the standing room only afternoon study session. Among the four evening attendees was newly elected Jackson County Commissioner Don Skundrick who attended as part of his quest to attend all county city councils once per quarter. Had Skundrick been able to attend the afternoon session he would have been treated to a much better view of the issue currently affecting the city – oh yes – water. The evening meeting was so brief; Skundrick was pretty much the highlight.

The afternoon brought a presentation by representatives of Shady Cove Water Works advising council as to why purchasing SCWW was the better of the two options presented in the HGE water master plan. The spokesperson was Mark Illsley CPM Real Estate Services, Inc. who holds the listing for SCWW on behalf of Premier West. In his presentation – the reading of a 13+ page written document – Illsley argued against several portions of HGE’s report. He also chastised the city and citizens stating they’d had multiple studies over 20 years “to get to this point.” By way of making the city an offer they couldn’t refuse, Illsley advised CPM had been sitting on the property since July ’10 waiting for the city to make a decision, but “Shady Cove Water Works will sell the assets to someone in 2011 and if that “someone” weren’t the city; well then the city would find itself competing against whomever they did sell it to.

In his formal proposal, Illsley advised CPM would give the city until 9/30/11 to accept their offer to buy SCWW at the discounted price of $2.6 million (current list price is 3.5 million). As for upfront money; that would be $100,000 to be held in escrow until 9/30/12 to allow the city time to acquire finances. How to get the upfront money? Illsley advised, “I’m sure the city understands they don’t have to go to the public to get approval to pass a revenue bond.”

Also speaking for SCWW was Joe Strahl, of Public Works Management, who spoke for just a few minutes addressing additional points of disagreement with the HGE study/report. By Illsley and Strahl’s estimates the SCWW option would be $300,000 less than the “start from scratch” option – still right around the $20 million mark, but flipping which option is costlier by cutting $1 million from the list price. With either option those most in need of water could get it first; with SCWW proposing a “first ask, first served” option and HGE noting their proposal could be altered to prioritize whichever neighborhoods the city decides need prioritizing.

Bill Pavlich from HGE asked for time to review all that was said as “HGE was mentioned in nearly every other sentence” of Illsley’s statement. Pavlich will return to council in a few weeks with detailed responses to SCWW’s questions/comments/accusations to HGE’s original report.

Mayor Ron Holthusen followed by advising the city can’t go any further with either option until the city can “nail down” what funding is available. The March 3 study session will center on the formation of a citizen task force to determine if folks will even buy in to a water system at all. Recall that one of the city’s 1 – 2 year goals is to assess the willingness of citizens to get a water system. Further in the Jan. 31budget meeting/review of the mid-year status, the committee discussed allotting $10,000 for a study on that willingness. The mayor advised he believes the issue will eventually require a vote and ended by stating the city and citizens need to “make sure we really understand what’s at stake. It’s a lot of money.”

Yep, Commissioner Skundrick certainly missed out on the more dramatic meeting of the day, but no doubt water will still be a hot topic of discussion when he returns next quarter.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent


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