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Oakridge City Council regular meeting 8/3/2023

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City of Oakridge Oregon

By JOY KINGSBURY/for Thee Herald  —  Present personally was Mayor Cutchen, Councilors Tarman, Hollett and Kinyon. Councilors Bjarnson and Coker chose to participate on Zoom as is usual.

Police Chief, Kevin Martin, was appointed Administrator Pro Tem during the absence of James Cleavenger, from 8/4 to 8/7.

Trudy Hammond, Oakridge resident, commented: “Community means so much to me as an animal lover.” Trudy is asking Council for support to protect animals by enforcing current ordinances on the books. Councilor Hollett asked that this issue be placed on the next council agenda.

Mayors comment: Mayor Cutchen encouraged participation in First Friday Art Walk and Farmers Market. The Keg and Cask Festival will take place this coming Saturday, the 12th, and can use volunteers for many tasks.

State legislature representative addresses Council

Charlie Conrad, State Representative for district which includes the Oakridge area, was in the audience.

Conrad commented that health care is broken in Oregon and that he is making a serious commitment to finding and correcting agency inefficiencies. His goal is to find ways to solve these problems. He stated that wildfires are a major concern at the State level. Health care for veterans is another of the major issues of concern. Representative Conrad is helping with the transportation issues on Highway 58. Conrad has had discussions about public safety issues, including emergency services. He stressed that he is accessible and available to those councilors attending by zoom whom he didn’t meet in person, and, that they may contact him with their questions.

He expressed disappointment that the repair to Oakridge airport he supported was not funded.

Also, Representative Conrad was able to get legislation passed to remedy some errors in property ownership. There is a bill allowing 50% of the gas stations in Oregon to be self-serve. This is mainly in the Portland Metro Area. Lou Pokorney, a private citizen, commented that he does not understand the enormous sums of money being spent at State levels that doesn’t seem to accomplish a lot. Representative Conrad explained that it helps to understand the flow of money. So many different sources of funding and so many complications. Neither Councilors Bjarnson nor Coker, both on Zoom, had any questions for Representative Conrad during his presentation.

City audit report

Mayor Cutchin reported the 2021-22 Audit is complete and finalized. Issues to point out were to do supplemental budgets and notice deadlines. Auditors have begun the 22/23 Audit. The City is happy with the new auditors who are doing a thorough job. The auditors ongoing concern is that historically reserves have been low. Having reserves would help make that issue go away.

During the past two years, Oakridge beginning balances reflected the inclusion of restricted funds. In this case, the new balance is basically zero. Mayor Cutchen voiced concern that the budget passed would need revision for that reason.

Committee appointments

Jeff Reed was appointed to the WAC Subcommittee. Jeff told Council he has time to devote to this Committee. Mr. Reed has a background in construction which is a good fit for the committee.

Councilor Hollett was appointed as Council Representative to the WAC Advisory Subcommittee and the Special Fire District Sub-Committee. At the Mayor’s suggestion, Council will postpone appointment to the Library Board and WAC subcommittee until after the new councilor is appointed to the vacancy created with the resignation of  Councilor Jan Hooker.

Councilor Hooker tendered her resignation for family reasons. Council will begin the process to fill the vacancy.

A “pump track” proposed for the OIP

The Parks Committee presented a proposal for an asphalt pump track at the Oakridge Industrial Park.* Council heard a request to pay $9,000 for a feasibility study for an asphalt pump track to be built on the currently dedicated park land portion of the industrial park. Rick Zylstra, city planner, expressed gratitude for the work the parks committee have done to date toward this project. It is a great opportunity to have something nice to do and a great step forward. Rick heartily supports this proposal.

* Pump tracks are similar to an obstacle course/roller coaster that allows bike riders to hone their skills before going out onto the mountain trails. The course is expected to draw significant use by riders at all skill levels.

Apparently, the contract calls for an additional 3% of the cost of the pump track project be added at the end. Councilor Kinyon was concerned that the proposal is not for a feasibility study, but a job. “Maybe the committee should go back to the drawing board and get some things worked out” she said.

The total cost to build the track is estimated to be $800,000. The committee has a fund-raising plan for the cost of the project. Mayor Cutchen noted that on the estimate additional items that city does not have will be billed. Councilor Hollett made a motion for the city to research a feasibility study for the pump track, and that the City supports the project. The motion was approved.

Plans for a cooling station have been revised. It would operate for two hours per day when temperatures reach 90 degrees or above. Additionally, it would run for four hours per day if 100 degrees or above measured at City Hall parking lot. Council approved.

Council rule changes after work session

Council will revise rules of procedure as agreed on July 13th in a council work session. Councilor Kinyon noted two sections: reappointment of city staff in section one be worded “may vs. shall.” In section two. The word “may”, is changed to “shall.” The mayor would direct the City Administrator to make the verbiage comply with the City Charter. Council approved the adoption of the new rules.

Never coming to council meetings is still OK

Mayor Cutchin amended the original motion to include, “The Mayor and City Councilors will make every effort to attend the city council meetings personally unless issues of travel, medical or extenuating circumstances make virtual attendance necessary.” Cutchen stressed that he is passionate about this issue.

Mayor Cutchen’s amended motion failed, Councilor’s Bjarnson, Coker, Hollett, and Kinyon, voted nay. Mayor Cutchen and Councilor Tarman Aye.

Council went into Executive session to conduct property negotiations. Back in regular session, council directed the City Administrator to continue negotiations for lot 21 in the OIP with the prospective buyer.

 

Bedrock Fire information is on-line. The fire is growing to the Northeast. There are containment lines and it looks good for Oakridge except for the smoke. Oakridge Air still has replacement filters in limited supply and air cleaners themselves for those who do not have them from earlier disbursements last summer.

Councilor feels biased by City Recorder in minutes

Councilor Kinyon objected to certain minutes. She stated that in these minutes her original motion was worded wrong and her second motion, which passed, was also omitted as well as other discussions not included. She requested that the general conversation be added and she feels the decision by the City Recorder to word the minutes as she did, was biased against her. Mayor Cutchen reminded the Council that the minutes were approved by the City Administrator and submitted by him, and not the City Recorder. Hollett claimed that the City Council supervises the City Recorder. The mayor explained that the City Administrator supervises all staff. Mayor reminded Council that they are dealing with staff.

Councilor Bjarnson, stated that in her opinion the council is responsible to review the minutes and approve the City Recorder’s minutes. Council may ask that minutes be changed. Kinyon acknowledged that legally, the minutes need only contain motions and results of those motions. Kinyon feels that these minutes are biased against her.

Mayor Cutchen made a motion to strip all discussion from the minutes and that outcomes only be recorded. Motion was approved and passed.

Staff and Committee reports followed. Please refer to the minutes or the audio on-line for that information.

 

City Council meetings take place on the first and third Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m.. All meetings are open to the public. A Zoom option is available on City website. A public comment sign up sheet is available at each meeting.

Joy Kingsbury is an Oakridge resident and regular contributor to The Herald. Joy Kingsbury photo

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