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Oakridge City Council meeting 4/6: A divided Council on several issues

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By PAUL SCOTT/for The Herald  —  The Oakridge City Council took on an ambitious agenda for the  April 6th city council meeting with a small audience in attendance.  Some paring of agenda items had to be made, but several were picked up as time allowed.

Yard Waste Program still open

The introduction included a public reminder of the availability of Oakridge’s Spring yard waste collection program.  Contact Oakridge Air, at [email protected] or 541-782-3422.

Proposed expansion and regulating of zoning and code review presented

A presentation by Darci Rudzinski from MIG Inc, on the subject of the TGM grant (Transportation and Growth Management) that the city was awarded proved to be the highlight of the evening. TGM is a joint program of the Department of Land Conservation and Oregon Department of Transportation. Moreover, the company has access to all building codes in the Oregon system. MIG is experienced in creating positive urban codes allowing regulated growth of housing and business. This is something that has plagued the Oakridge community in the past.

MIG has the advantage of a full view of many Oregon communities who have gone through periods of growth.  Starting off, Rudzinski did credit  past and present Oakridge representatives for recognizing the advantages of learning from other Oregon communities experiencing similar futures as that of Oakridge.   Also, the program presentation was focused primary on urban growth needs. In particular, they look at opening more options for housing in both the downtown area as well as other city codes.

An open pocket book for RTMP/TRT funds was questioned

There were several request for funds from the Rural Tourism Marketing Program (RTMP) and Transient Room Tax (TRT).  While there was support shown for all the local programs, the point was made that the City doesn’t have unlimited funds for all projects. And, in some cases, the City loses income that could be received. There’s disagreement among the council as to the level of subsidy that the city can or should be providing.

Viability of RAIN cost in question

The council was asked to decide whether to renew or cancel the contract with RAIN (Regional Accelerator Innovation Network). The program was designed to educate and work with local entrepreneurs to improve their business performance.  The staff recommendation, prepared by the CA, was to not renew the contract. The City Finance Director, Colleen Shirley, stated that the City doesn’t have the funds to justify the contract. Last year’s contract of $7,500 would increase in cost by 33% to $10,000, should it be renewed. Councilor Kinyon questioned Ms. Shirley’s financial statement and her recommendation to not renew. Kinyon rationalized that that since we were able to afford the program in previous years that the City should continue the program at the higher cost.

Council rejects City staff’s RAIN nonrenewal recommendation

During the vote for extending the RAIN contract, a comment was voice  by a City staff member that was clearly out of order. Though the Mayor is tasked with running council meetings, Councilor Hollett who was also out of order, immediately took offense and became very vocal toward the member of the City staff. Mayor Cutchen quickly brought Council back in line and referred the incident to the City Administrator for action. RAIN’s contract was approved for payment and renewal.

When RAIN first approached Oakridge, their CEO, Caroline Cummings, specifically touted “angel investors” who could be made available to fund projects. The City currently has no data available on the effectiveness in accelerating startups in Oakridge by RAIN (1).

Disc Golf Tourney should prove to be an economic boon to area

Oakridge has a major sports event on the way – The U.S. Disc Golf  Championship to be held in May 25-28th at the Circle Bar Golf Course.  This event will require significant volunteer assistance.  Oakridge has a chance to shine during this event but the city will need a community-wide effort. Persons interested in volunteering for the event should contact Jason Nehmer at  [email protected].

Appointments to committees and boards

Several Oakridge citizens have stepped up to help in voluntary city committee’s. Most recently:

Meagan Metcalf was approved to the RTMP/TRT committee

Cyma Lovell-Beers was appointed to the Admin and Budget Committees.

Fishes in the streets

During staff reports, Oakridge City Planner Rick Zylstra gave a short slide presentation. He presented the upcoming artwork that will adorn several  of the city sidewalks and around storm drains. Council approved the staff to move forward with the project. The project will have a minimum impact on the city maintenance department’s budget.

Council refuses to appoint OEDAC rep

Mayor Cutchen has nominated Councilor Dirk Tarman, an engineer, to represent Oakridge on OEDAC (Oakridge Economic Development Advisory Committee). The remaining Council members have refused to second the mayor’s motion. Mayor Cutchen, however, is adamant that unless council can give reason why Councilor Tarman is not qualified to serve on OEDAC, that his nomination  for appointment stands.

(1) The Herald’s editor was among those in attendance at the first presentation by Ms. Cummings.

 

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