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City Council Regular Session Aug 4th, 2022

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Oakridge City Hall Herald Photo

By RICK ZYLSTRA/for The Herald  — The meeting started shortly after 6pm following a few feedback, Zoom, and related technical issues.

After the customary pledge of allegiance, roll call was held. Mayor Hollett, councilors Spliethof and Whitney were present at city hall. Councilors Coker, Bjarnson, Hooker, and Kinyon joining via Zoom.

After Mayor Hollett indicated that there were no corrections or adjustments to the agenda the meeting moved to public comment.

1st Public Comment

The only public comment at this time was provided via the mayor reading a third letter from Bryan Cutchen regarding the fiscal year 2023 budget process. Mr. Cutchen’s letter indicated that the errors he had originally brought up on 6/29/22 had not been addressed as of 7/19/22, after the council had assured that they were corrected. According to Mr. Cutchen’s comments he believes one of two things had taken place. The first possibility is that:

“The city council was aware of the errors and knowingly adopted an out of balance, flawed budget. Even on the very first page of the adopted budget, resources don’t equal requirements”.

Or secondly,

“In their rush to get a budget adopted by the looming deadline two days away, the city council adopted a budget not knowing it contained errors”.

Mr. Cutchen ended by indicating that the second option is preferred and if it is the correct option, the council needs to acknowledge and correct these mistakes. But if the first option is truly what happened, then it is of great concern to the public as well as the statements councilors had made to explain away the errors. By correcting these mistakes and fully accounting for the ARPA funds, it will give citizens a clearer picture of the city’s financial condition.

Mayor Comments

Mayor Hollett had a list of things she wanted to provide updates on meetings she had recently attended:

  • Fire briefing for the Potter and Wendigo fires, saying they are a significant distance from Oakridge and there are a lot of resources on them. Fire management are trying to get more aircraft resources on the other fires. They are also sending some of the most highly qualified teams to those fires.
  • RAIN and Lane Workforce want to assist new entrepreneurial businesses that need help starting new businesses.
  • Chambers Partners meeting with Banner Bank is working on a new informational kiosk for the recently updated Banner Park.
  • WAC Funding Committee meeting where the discussion was around the roles of the two different WAC committees and where the funding will be going and prioritizing the funds.
  • LRAPA is moving their Sampling Air Toxin Pollutants testing unit into Oakridge to get a better idea of the composition of the wildfire and home heating woodstove smoke.

Councilor Comments

Councilor Whitney requested of the mayor an update on the special fire district she had been working on. Mayor Hollett indicated that there is no update due to a restructuring of the special fire district committee members since the Westfir mayor had resigned.

Business from City Council

9.1 Committee Vacancies and Recruitments (33 open seats)

City Administrator Cleavenger updated that there are currently thirty-three open seats on the various committees and commissions within the city. Some do not have enough members to have a quorum needed to hold meetings. Starting Monday there will be a large push to recruit new people.

9.2 Event Signage TRT Request

This TRT request for event signage was originally brought to the council by Mayor Hollett at the July 21st meeting. The discussion had been tabled allowing for Mr. Cleavenger to research the city’s Land Use Ordinance regarding the sandwich board style signs being proposed. Mr. Cleavenger explained his research had found that Ordinance 874, Article 22 – Signs, Section 22.06 (4) states that the City Administrator may grant permissions for temporary signs for advertising civic or special events that may have an interest to the public, thus allowing for the signs in question.

Councilor Kinyon had mentioned how she requested more quotes before wanting to vote on the subject. Both the mayor and City Administrator then stated that even though they did not read the city’s purchasing handbook, they believed the price for the signs presented in the request was well under the cost outlined by city procedures.  Councilor Kinyon again requested more quotes, supported by both councilor Coker and Spliethof. The TRT request was again tabled.

9.3 Shari Kendall Addiction Recovery Program Fee Waiver Request and Presentation

Shari Kendall gave a power point presentation for her request of a fee waiver for the Greenwaters Community Building to hold weekly meetings for six months. Mrs. Kendal desires to start up a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) addiction recovery group. She highlighted the needs and shortfall of NA meetings and resources available here in Oakridge. According to the presentation given, the greatest success for sustained sobriety was groups and recovery communities such as this. Mrs. Kendall stated how she took the effort to find other locations such as local churches for a space for a recovery community, but to no avail.

Councilor Whitney gave her support for the fee waiver and her support for the recovery community. She stated how financially supporting programs such as this could potentially benefit and repay the community in different ways that all have positive outcomes.

Councilor Kinyon shared that she researched the subject at hand and that there are three Alcoholic Anonymous meetings per week at local churches here in town. While she did not speak to the churches specifically, she stated she did speak with a member that confirmed the meetings.

Mrs. Kendall requested to address the difference between NA and AA and how most AA meetings will not even allow for addicts to speak about narcotics addictions, leading to an unwelcoming environment for narcotic addicts.

The council unanimously approved the fee waiver of $1,920 for the NA meetings. The council also requested an update on the group’s progress in six months. Assistance was offered by the council to Mrs. Kendall in any way possible to help spread the word.

9.4 Budget Process Posting Error

The Finance Director Colleen Shirley read aloud a letter she had written to the council stating how the budget had not been properly posted for the minimum five days as required by Oregon law. Mrs. Shirley had sought out and received advice from the State of Oregon on how to best move forward in making this error public, transparent and available for public comment. Moving forward, Mrs. Shirley has put procedures in place for the next budget season. This will include a checklist and calendar to ensure the error is avoided.

Council acknowledged and showed their appreciation for Colleen’s efforts in transparency along with her efforts to fix the error.

9.5 WAC Update

The mayor explained how she, and councilors Whitney and Hooker, had just attended a WAC Funding Committee meeting. Councilor Whitney explained how the architect provided a PowerPoint presentation with a lot of great information.  She explained that the WAC Funding Committee wanted to move forward with looking for additional funding opportunities with the intention of not disbanding until everything was fully funded at the WAC. Additionally, she spoke about how the two different committees, the City’s WAC Committee and the WAC Funding Committee needed to meet together, discussing how to improve transparency and to better make information flow between the two. The discussion also centered around how to make the building insurable and start bringing tenants back.

The mayor asked if the 1.5 million from the legislature for the WAC had arrived at the city, with the Finance Director saying that she thought that it hadn’t yet made it to the city.

Councilor Kinyon had questions about the architect, looking for clarification on who paid for the feasibility study. Mayor Hollett explained that the Southern Willamette Forest Collaborative applied for and received a $20,000 grant that paid for the architectural feasibility study. Kinyon expressed her concern that the city had not put out a Request for Proposals needed to select the architect and feasibility study. Councilor Kinyon also expressed how the council is the final authority on the WAC.

Mr. Cleavinger explained that a grant application has recently been submitted by the city to the USDA for 2.5 million but expects to receive much less if the grant is awarded.

Councilor Kinyon expressed her concern on how neither the WAC Funding Committee, nor the engineer, had not yet updated the council on their activities and that she was not comfortable with the council doing anything until they receive a full update. Kinyon proceeded to discuss how the budget committee had voted to sell the WAC. She was also not comfortable doing anything until that was addressed and rescinded by the council. She also requested that either the City Administrator or herself look up the information to be brought back to council for rescinding. Councilor Kinyon further went on to request copies of the documents regarding the 1.5 million from the legislature.

Councilor Whitney shared her concerns about losing forward momentum on the WAC and that we need to respect the movement that is occurring.

City Administrator Cleavenger assured councilor Kinyon that the information being asked for would be brought to council. He further explained how the 1.5 million is not a grant but rather a state legislative line item in thanks, largely, to Senator Floyd Prozanski.

Councilor Spliethof initiated discussion amongst the council regarding ADA compliance, insurance, electrical and the roof. Councilor Spliethof was looking for clarification on what was needed for insuring and how to get there as quickly as possible.

Business from the City Administrator

City Administrator Cleavenger discussed the current Housing Needs Analysis grant. He is looking for public input in assessing the needs for affordable housing. He discussed a future grant for assessing the city zoning and how the current zoning regulations are prohibitive in building multi-family housing within the city.

Mr. Cleavenger invited the public to the Oakridge/Westfir Chamber of Commerce after-hours event on Tuesday August 23rd 6:30pm at the new Banner Park. The event will be a fundraiser for a new information kiosk in the park.

Cleavenger mentioned that the Parks and Community Services Committee is looking for suggestions for renaming Banner Park. Their next meeting is Monday at 5:30pm and anyone looking to suggest a new name for the park should attend

Staff Reports

Fire and EMS

Fire Chief Hollett updated the council that he had sat in on the Cedar Creek Fire Briefing. A type-1 team has arrived and daily briefings will be starting soon. Due to the hot weather and steep terrain, this fire is expected to last for a while.

Chief Hollett hopes to soon update on the hiring process and introduce the new hire.

Police

Mr. Cleavinger updated that the police have hired two new police officers that are expected to start around the 15th of the month.

Councilor Spliethof thanked the Coburg Police for the assistance they have provided during their short staffing.

Mr. Cleavenger expressed his opinion that shout-outs and kudos are also in order for both Police Chief Martin and Officer Miller during this staffing shortage. They have both been working around the clock and/or been on call overnight, every night for the last few weeks.

Finance

Finance Director Colleen Shirley wanted to address Mr. Cutchen’s comments saying that transfers from ARPA, Water Loan, EMS and Wastewater Funds are being cleared up and there will be an updated report in the council packet that will show the transfers are being made.

Mayor Hollett is asking for feedback regarding the new starting time of 6:00pm, she understands that some people that work outside of town might have a hard time making the new start time.

2nd Public Comment

Rustie Ackland had mentioned that the meeting was hard to hear on zoom and requested that the rock with the name Banner Park be returned to Banner Bank rather than being destroyed or thrown away.

Dan Barkley commended the mayor on reading the public comment while the author was in attendance. He stated that is not how he would have done things. He then continued with admonishing how the staff members did not stand for the pledge of allegiance and was disrespectful during the meeting. He also recommended lessening the number of committee members in order to reach the quorum needed.

Louis Pokorny mentioned how he has noticed a few things are in need to be done such as the Welcome to Oakridge sign needs to be cleaned up and how he would be willing to help where he can, including assisting with the needs of the WAC.

Meeting adjourned at 7:53pm.

Rick Zylstra grew up in Oakridge. He attended the University of Oregon where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Geography, and a master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning. He most recently worked for the City of Oakridge in both the Planning and Public Works Dept. Sunny Zylstra photo

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