SC water cost study to save city $30,000

Shady Cove City Council tackled numerous agenda items during their Feb. 16 study session and meeting. Yet for the variety of topics there were two pervading themes; money and efficiency.

The first mark of efficiency: most topics discussed during the study session were subsequently voted on during the evening meeting. One topic concluded during the afternoon was a discussion on the Welcome signs at either end of town. As previously mentioned the signs are getting a much needed face lift and the city thought to complete the makeover with new sign holders. However research into this idea revealed that neither sign is compliant with ODOT regulation. Per ODOT,  if new holders are created they will need to be moved to compliant locations. With each sign currently so near a hillside,  relocation would involve additional monies and tricky engineering. so for now the city will simply re-paint the current holders.

A proposed rate increase was introduced by Southern Oregon Sanitation. This is their first increase in two years, but it carries a bit of ‘sticker shock’ for businesses. Per SOS they have traditionally done a “Cost of Business” increase which doesn’t account for a significant rise in disposal costs. With that factored in, the proposal sees businesses getting up to a 27% increase (more trash, more disposal, more increase). Mayor Ron Holthusen asked that this increase be implemented in two phases giving businesses time to prepare and giving SOS time to meet with business owners to discuss other ways of possibly lower costs. A new proposal was presented in the evening with the increase split 50/50, one increase in June, the second in September. The proposal will be written into a resolution and voted on in a future meeting.

Next up during the study session was a contract proposal from Ed Mayer and Associates, LLC. The city received a grant to re-work their Emergency Management Procedures. With his background Mayer seemed the perfect fit to tackle this task in total. However, after speaking with the city’s insurance company Administrator Danise Brakeman advised they should break the re-work into two phases. The ‘hands on’ phase would require Mayer to complete several online courses and to purchase additional liability insurance each at Mayer’s own expense.

Brakeman suggested the city begin by contracting Mayer to re-work the paper portion of the plan, which is a 400 plus page document, making it more streamlined and more appropriate to Shady Cove. The current version is a “boiler plate” version and many of its specifics are aimed at cities with far greater resources than Shady Cove. The new streamlined contract for Phase 1 was presented in the evening and Mayor was hired via motion (4/0 – Councilor Gary Hughes was absent) to begin the editing process.

Purely in the vein of efficiency was the next topic. Brakeman refined the definition of a citywide event as an event that requires an event planner to submit an application. She shared the definition with the Shady Cove Chamber of Commerce which gave it a thumbs up. The new definition should still protect the city for events which may cause liability issues, and will make event planning much easier for citizens. Citywide events are now those which will use city resources and/or may affect ordinances such as  noise, curfew etc. The resolution to replace the old definition with the new passed 4/0.

Two money saving issues completed the evening’s agenda. First was a resolution to adopt a 5 year capital improvement plan for the wastewater and collection system. With the contracting of RVSS for all things sewer, the city is saving significantly on salary and benefits. This resolution proposes that those savings be put toward capital improvements. The resolution passed 4/0. 

Saving money in a major way was the approval of a rate study on the proposed citywide water system. A study needs to be done so voters can have a fair idea of what such a system would cost them, and how that cost would be put into effect (taxes/monthly fees). It was initially thought a study would cost upwards of $30,000. However Brakeman, working with the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, a non-profit company,  presented a proposal which will cost exactly $0.00 for the rate study. Not surprisingly, the motion to approved passed 4/0.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent

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