SC debates speed and sewer issues

“It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.” Joseph Joubert

Taking this quote to heart, Shady Cove City Council debated nearly everything during their May 3 meeting, settled most issues and left some for another day. The single issue no one had need to debate was an update from Dan Durrell of ODOT on the city’s request to have the 35 MPH speed limit at the north end of town extended to the city limit. Durrell advised a request has been sent to Salem for the change and though it’s not yet approved, he’s very optimistic that it will be and the new signs may be up within a month.

Some sewer related topics included the first reading of an ordinance change which would set a new procedure for collecting delinquent sewer usage fees.  Presently delinquent accounts are referred to a collection agency which takes quite a bit of staff time, per Administrator Danise Brakeman. Additionally, the collections process adds to the amount owed by folks and takes a long time. The proposed change to the ordinance would allow the city to add the delinquent fees to folks’ property tax bills as a special assessment. This is allowable for sewer fees onl./ The county would return the delinquency fee portion of taxes paid back to the city. The whole process would save time and money for everyone. This issue warranted only a few clarification questions and quick discussion before the initial reading.

The next sewer issue, an Operations Increase request from Rogue Valley Sewer Services, took a bit more time, though it had been previously discussed in the April 20 meeting. RVSS is requesting to raise their annual “not to exceed” percentage rate from 3 to 8%. Council decided on Apr.20 to consider a one year increase and during the May 3 meeting re-thought even that. Council said RVSS performed some services not listed in the original contract while there were some unexpected staff changes that really did cause unexpected expenses. In the interest of continuing their good relationship, council voted for the one year increase, but asked that Brakeman advise RVSS they really want them to work on staying within the contract terms in the future.

Another topic back for another round of discussion was the Task Order for Kennedy/Jenks. This topic first popped up during the April 27 Special Meeting. The same concerns arose in May as in April; the task order is for further engineering studies on the proposed water system and will be paid for by a potentially forgivable $15,000 loan. If citizens vote no on the water system bond issue, the loan must be repaid; so the debate – is the reward of more information worth the risk? In the end the motion for the order passed as there really can’t be a vote without a more detailed engineering study (catch 22 anyone?). In order to inform citizens of the cost of a water system there needs to be a rate study; in order to have a rate study there must be further engineering studies.

The last topic of debate reached a conclusion, but the actual vote was deferred. For some weeks council has discussed asking ODOT to designate the highway pullout on the south end of town a no parking area. The concern is that too many cars, trucks, trailers, etc. parked there for too long may give the city entrance more of a used car lot look than a quaint tourist town look. However councilors also want to help truckers who depend on that parking area for their business. Councilor Bill Kyle proposed a compromise to a 48 hour parking limit. While the majority finally landed on changing the proposed resolution from none to 48, .too many re-writes to the resolution would be necessary for a May 3 vote. The new version will be on the next council agenda..

There are openings on the Planning Commission and the about to be formed Radio Citizens Advisory Board. Applications for each are available at City Hall.
By Christy Pitto
Of The Independent

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