The sun finally made an appearance in Shady Cove on June 2nd, but it didn’t feel particularly sunny inside as city council spent four hours in painful discussions, debates and decisions. Their first quandary: what to do with the treatment plant on the heels of George Bostic’s retirement? It’s universally decided Bostic with his years of knowledge and experience is irreplaceable. So – try to hire one person to fill his shoes or parcel out his duties to subcontractors and hire someone to do the balance?
In a step toward resolution council met with Carl Tappert of Rogue Valley Sewer Services during their study session. Tappert offered a few options: RVSS could just take care of waste removal, they could just take over maintenance and operation of the plant or all matters sewer could be turned over to them. Option 3 would include RVSS hiring two of the cities plant employees and then the turning over of all sewer/plant related assets (the assets would be returned if either party terminated the contract). As with all big decisions there are pros and cons to the various options. No decision was made as the financial math needs to be done on each option and discussed with the Budget Committee (special meeting will be held June 9th).
Hanging in the sewer and financial vein, there was also a request from the Edgewater Inn/Rogue River RV Park to reduce their winter sewer fee. It was a two part request: 1) they would like to move the date fees are due from the beginning to the end of the month 2) they would like a break on winter months fees as they pay per room & per RV space and they shut down several of each for winter due to lack of occupancy.
Tie into this, the council was also to vote on a $1 sewer fee increase during the evening meeting and literal agonizing debate ensued. First dilemma; some on council thought the $1 increase was for fiscal year 2012/13 & 2013/14, some thought 2011/12 & 2012/13. Which interpretation was of import as some wanted to give not only the Edgewater but the other hotels a bit of a financial break and some felt they just couldn’t fairly do so. Some arguments each way: if the overall sewer is going up – how can a break for hotels be justified? Further if you give a break to hotels, won’t rafting companies and snowbirds want a break too? However, Shady Cove lives on tourism and hotels bring tourists, so if anyone gets a break, it should be them, thought some. Moreover the owners of the Edgewater/RV Park are pillars of the community and are asking for a small amount of relief in the big picture. Couldn’t a different option be considered? Possibly lower fees for a year or two due to the recession? Really, literally, agonizing.
In the end the budget committee was phoned and polled and majority agreed the $1 was for fiscal 11/12 & 12/13. It was then clarified that the council was only to vote on the actual requests made by Edgewater – other options and potential breaks for other hotels didn’t factor in to that evening’s vote. It was moved to deny the due date change (the ordinance would have to be amended and all other businesses would have to be contacted to see which date they favored) and denial passed 4/0. The matter of winter fee breaks was a tougher one, the motion nearly died as there was group reluctance to even second it. Again the mayor clarified the motion was only to deny the exact request for Edgewater/RV only as it was submitted and the overall matter of winter fees could rise again at a future meeting. The reluctant 2nd came, but the motion still went lifeless after a 2/2 vote. Resolutions changing fees fared better (the aforementioned sewer fee and planning fees being most significant changes) passing 4/0.Requiring less discussion was the public hearing on the budget, two folks spoke up during public comment; Ed Mayer asking more monies go to the emergency preparedness fund and Bud Rees asking more go toward city planning.
Discussion took off again when Kate Crowston made a request to put up a temporary sign for Tie Days on the highway. Apparently the ordinance states such signage cannot exceed 5 sq. feet, but no one has been enforcing it in recent memory. With a new city planner and new administrator reading the rules before granting permission the glitch was caught. It was agreed the ordinance needs to be reviewed and revised in general and for the time being there’s an allowance for special event signs only to exceed the 5 sq. ft. rule.
With many issues partially resolved it looks like the summer council and planning schedules will be full of more interesting discussions and decisions; if you want to have your public comment say, mark Thursday evenings on your calendar for the next few months.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent