The Shady Cove city council delayed most action until larger issues have been resolved. The September 5 meeting was largely discussion with council members choosing to delay action due to the fractured nature of the council.
The meeting began with several public comments. Members of the business community filled City Hall asking the City to work with them by improving the city’s image, working on compromise with SDC fees, and appointing a new Councilor with “Strong hands-on experience” in the business world. John Burgess, in a written statement asked Mayor Ron Holthusen to step down immediately. Burgess reasoned that with the Mayor’s current lame duck status he “No longer has a dog in this race” and if he won’t step down, he should at least recuse himself from all voting.
Councilor Gary Hughes spoke to this during the comment period, stating, “I know I’m going to make some enemies on this,” by continuing to “take exception” to Burgess’ comments. Hughes stated he’d worked with several Mayors during his Shady Cove political career and felt firmly Holthusen is one with “no personal agenda” and one who has always led in an unbiased manner. Both Councilors Leith Hayes and Jim Ulrich firmly agreed. Mayor Holthusen advised he expects to step down on October 1.
New Business began with discussions on whether or not to elect a new Council President following the Mayor’s resignation. Consensus was to delay action on this issue. Each councilor will temporarily fill the seat to see if any are interested in running for that office. The issue was tabled for the moment. The Councilors also delayed action on appointing the seat held by former Councilor Bill Kyle. Mayor Holthusen feels it is not responsible governance to leave the seat empty until May 2014 elections. Councilor Leith Hayes especially, but all councilors to a degree, feel there is no need to fill the seat until then. The charter allows the city to run with the two vacant seats until filled by election. Three members of the public have expressed interest in filling the seat, but the Council wants to wait on the application process at least until some other, more important, issues are settled. The empty seat topic will be added to the 9/19 agenda for further discussion.
Lastely, was the issue of the System Development Charges (SDC’s) applied to the School District for the new modular music room. The result is Band Kids won’t be getting their new room for a bit.
There was a great deal of discussion on the topic, and spread sheets from experts on both sides were bandied about and heels were dug in. Here are the highlights:
The $54,000 SDC’s were lowered to $43,000; with $38,000 of those as Transportation charges for the anticipated traffic increases.The School District, represented by Consultant David McKay and Director of Special Services and former Principal Tiffiany Lambert, feel no transportation SDC’s should be paid as the music room will not increase the number of students attending the school.
City Administrator Danise Brakeman advised that SDC’s can be charged annually, regardless of construction, but have not been to this point. The $43,000 is based on enrollment increase from 2011 to 2013. Lambert said there has been an overall decrease in enrollment not only from 2012 – 2013, but from 2006 – 2013 and wonders why the 2011 – 2012 period was chosen. Brakeman advised City Consultant FCS Group chose the time period. FCS also performed the study on the City’s SDC fees.
The Council, largely driven by Jim Ulrich, offered a few options for compromise, including dropping the SDC’s by 30% for one calendar year (retroactive and applicable to all) and deferring payment so the music room construction could move forward. However, neither McKay nor Lambert had authority to guarantee the District would pay any amount for the Transportation portion of the SDC’s. Without some guarantee, the Council would not make an offer.
So the Music Room will sit on its trailer while FCS Group (possibly) reviews McKay’s data. FCS may not wish to review the data, and the city will pay a maximum of $1000 if FCS does review; and a review may not change a thing. This issue too was then tabled until September 19.
By Christy Pitto
For The Independent