Engineer’s report may deplete water research fund in Shady Cove

The Sept. 15 Shady Cove City Council meeting was in part an English lesson and in part a lesson on following expert advice.

The first issue of semantics arose during the FEMA report. The question; how will FEMA define “progress”? For now FEMA seems satisfied with the city’s efforts to encourage voluntary compliance. However, the letter sent earlier this month, though generating lots of questions has generated only one application so fa,r although four folks have taken applications home for possible submittal.

Planner Lois DeBenedetti advised that with the media attention on the new maps being challenged, folks may be waiting for a resolution before stepping up to comply. However as she noted previously the challenge may be denied or it could take years to settle one way or the other and FEMA expects progress to continue. So really the question is “How long will FEMA accept research and effort vs. issued certificates of compliance as progress?” The city’s concern is the answer may be “Not for much longer.” After much discussion it was agreed that if voluntary compliance doesn’t concretely progress in the next 30 days council will hold a vote to bring random inspections back.

Under the topic of listening to experts fell the issue of whether or not to charge owners of undeveloped properties 50% of the Public Safety surcharge. This was previously discussed during the July 21 meeting (Independent article on that meeting available online) and though council leaned toward keeping the verbiage it was left open for decision pending the attorney’s final edits to the ordinance. The draft presented cut the wording regarding the 50% charge as the attorney feels it could be considered a tax and not legal. Councilors have two weeks to review the draft and submit any suggestions before the final vote.

The next experts to weigh in will be Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, the newly hired engineers who will write a fact finding report based on new information in the matter of whether to pursue the purchase of Shady Cove Water Works or to build a system from scratch. The key issue is that this report will tap out the remainder of the 10,000 budgeted for water system research in the current budget. Councilors Leith Hayes and Gary Hughes were disappointed by this as they feel monies will need to be spent on community education and outreach before the next fiscal year. Councilor Jim Ulrich feels similarly, but noted he sees feels the new report is necessary as HGE recommended the build from scratch option and it seems KJ is heading the same direction. Ulrich feels the combined reports will go a long way to soothing folks who felt buying SCWW was the way to go (all this assuming the city goes either way – that decision is still up in the air).

In a final discussion, was the issue of Ulrich’s continued participation on the council.  A little background: Ulrich was appointed to replace former Councilor Margaret Bradburn. There appears to be a lack of clarity with regard to the city charter and how an appointee should or could run for election.  In the past, the city interpreted the charter to a candidate could or would run in a primary or general election as it would cost $1000 to the taxpayers to have an appointee run in a special election. Councilor Hughes advised when he was appointed he did not run until the November general election.

If Ulrich runs in the next available election he will run in the May 2012 primary; he will then need to run again in the November 2012 general election. Though Hughes said  that he had run in the general – this double running is likely the reason the city opted for the general election  in his case. Apparently an unnamed citizen has brought the issue to the attention of Ulrich  and the citizen noted he will ask Ulrich to step down if he does not run in the spring.  City attorney Steve Rich advises Ulrich run in May. Ulrich wishes to stay on council as, “I feel this is why I am here at this moment in time.” and feels council should follow counsel’s advice. A motion to accept the attorney’s findings passed 3/0 (Ulrich abstained, Mayor Ron Holthusen was absent).

Between campaigns, FEMA inspections and engineering reports council will be quite busy in the upcoming months, to keep abreast of it all, attend their next meeting on Oct. 6, 6:30 pm in the council chamber.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent


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