Aesop’s Fable The Tortoise and the Hare was meant to teach us that slow and steady wins the race. However, Shady Cove city council is finding that slow and steady is really just lost meandering in the backfield while speedy crosses the finish line and gets things done. Several issues were tackled during their June 16 study session and meeting. On the speedy side were inter-governmental contracts and a budget face lift. With George Bostic’s retirement not even a month in the past, council has moved forward looking into potential sub-contracts for street repair with Jackson County and sewer services with Rogue Valley Sewer Services. A special budget meeting was held on June 13 to adjust the budget toward the sub-contracting direction.
During the study session folks from county roads, lead by Carl Rhoten, reviewed a long term road maintenance/repair schedule with council. With the city’s limited budget (even the re-worked version) the county’s proposal emphasizes “keeping good streets good” and includes making all streets safe and passable.After the road presentation council reviewed the budget and had some lengthy discussion as to whether it was better to approve the new version or the old. The issue, they likely will sub-contract for roads and sewers – thus not replacing Bostic – but no contracts have been drawn up yet – let alone approved. However, if they approve the older proposed budget then move forward with sub-contracting they’ll have to do a supplemental budget. In the end they decided it would be the newer budget they would put up for approval during the evening meeting as it reflected the direction the city was most likely to go; and that’s really the intent of a budget. The votes came during the evening meeting via 3 motions: 1) Directing Administrator Danise Brakeman to work with the county on a road contract 2) Directing Brakeman to work with RVSS on a sewer contract 3) approval of the version of the budget which reflects these contracts. Each passed 5/0. Thus in those matters; speed reigned supreme.
Meanwhile, two tortoise like issues plagued council and made for hours and hours of both study session and meeting discussion. The first issue came up during Planner Lois DeBenedetti’s FEMA update. There are still 2 unresolved issues from the original FEMA report, Brakeman and DeBenedetti plead for a little more time to resolve the issues with the homeowners and FEMA as in each case the homes were thought to be in compliance until new issues were found. Council at large felt both cases had gone on far too long and it was time to send “drop dead” deadline letters and possibly move toward litigation. How much leeway can be given to any one homeowner while still being fair to the other 200+ folks who need to meet compliance? In the end Brakeman and DeBenedetti were given two weeks to tie up loose ends with homeowners and FEMA or next steps will be taken.
The last tortoise-like issue was the setting of goals for the planning commission. During their last meeting on June 9, the commission chose the goals of 1) creating a riparian ordinance 2) updating the land use section of city ordinances. When Brakeman presented council with these goals and their 12 month timeline, council was less than impressed.
The ordinance goal was originally discussed in the January 20 council/commission joint meeting. The riparian ordinance goal was subsequently set during the January 27 joint meeting. With no progress made in the ensuing 6 months council was hesitant to approve an additional 12 months. Brakeman advised she felt progress would be made on both goals and that she would hold the commission to deadlines.
Council agreed to approve the goals for the time being, but will formulate a letter to the commissioners advising they’d like concrete progress and noting other goals they’d like added to the list in timely fashion.
One solid request made was that the signage portion of the ordinance be reviewed first as council passed a resolution putting a stay on special event sign regulations (current law gives 5 sq. ft limit to event signage) until the ordinance is reviewed/fixed. The resolution also allows Brakeman to have any signage removed as she deems necessary (so don’t look for any ridiculously large signs to stay up). Though council felt the resolution was necessary, they would like the actual ordinance resolved before the end of the calendar year.
Though sometimes haste makes waste, haste can also make great leaps in progress and once in a while you just need to light a wee fire behind the tortoise’s tail to remind him he’s still in the race at all.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent