By SUE RYAN
News staff writer
June 14, 2006
People who showed up Monday night to speak at the Hood River City Council on the public hearing on the proposed business license found they would have to come back another time.
“We’re going to remove the ordinance from tonight’s agenda,” said Mayor Linda Streich.
City manager Bob Francis said that due to public comment the ordinance was being revised and would be reposted with a hearing set for the council’s July 10 meeting. He did not go into detail about the changes. Streich mentioned that the city would be removing the section on inspections.
The original proposal was to levy a first-time charge of $50, followed by a $20 annual renewal fee. The ordinance would have added a discretionary inspection by the city for security, structural or safety concerns.
The council held two other public hearings including one on the city’s annual budget for $3.7 million, and one on probable uses of state revenue sharing. No one spoke at either of the hearings. The council voted to use the $45,000 in state revenue funds for deficit reduction.
The vote to approve a deficit reduction plan included accepting the state auditor’s review of the city’s budget. As part of that review, the auditor Philip Hopkins noted there were overextended appropriations by the city in violation of local budget law.
“It relates to the 1997 principles (already in place) that we need to have followed,” said Steve Everroad, the city’s finance director. “I’m to monitor very closely and if there are any overruns to bring it to the attention of the city manager immediately.”
The city council discussed putting out a request for proposals for construction at the waterfront park site known as Lot 6. The funding for it would come from the remaining $25,000 the city had left in a fund for the park’s development. City councilor Laurent Picard questioned the RFP’s timing.
“Why are we doing this now? PDC (Park Development Committee) hasn’t presented their plan to council yet,” he said.
Francis said he understood the committee wanted to keep the ball rolling. He referenced a joint meeting coming up between the city, port, and parks and recreation department meeting Aug. 2. He did caution that the amount of money was limited.
“We have $15,000 to $16,000 for advertising the RFP and selection process,” he said. “When that’s done, if there are no dollars to move forward at that time, then council will have to say no to all the RFPs until such a time as there is money to do the project.”
In the end, the council approved the RFP in the interests of having cost estimates by the joint meeting date.
While the council had planned to approve the adoption of a monthly fee for maintenance of stormwater drains, they postponed the decision until further discussion could take place. The action followed protests from two city residents and one council member’s reservations about the plan.
“I was not here for the earlier discussion and I have some issues with it,” said Councilor Paul Cummings. “I put stormwater in the same category as street sweeping, snow removal and leaf pick-up. People pay taxes to have that done.”
Resident Bob Palmer asked the council study the service fee further before adopting it. He disagreed with the mandatory engineering report to have an exemption from the stormwater fee.
“To have to get an engineering report, it would cost between $1,000-5,000,” he said. “It seems like here in this city we’ve been dinging people for a number of years.”
Resident Tad Johnston said the current stormwater system was ineffective and at both his house and rental house he experienced large amounts of runoff through his property.
“It affects my property every year; the water never goes to the drain so where is the money going to?” he said.
The fee would have an initial cost of one one-hundredth (.001) of a cent per square foot of property. It was set by the city’s 2001 capital facilities plan.