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EID fails by remonstrance
The La Grande City Council voted to not move forward with the ordinance to create an Economic Improvement District downtown last night.
City Manager Robert Strope said at the meeting that the city had received letters of remonstrance totaling 41.9 percent of the proposed EID assessment amount. Property owners who objected to the district needed only 33 percent to prohibit the creation of the district.
Because the ordinance was scheduled for a final reading in July, councilors had the option to wait on making a decision until then or ending the effort at its meeting.
Councilor Gary Lillard noted that the opportunity for property owners to withdraw or submit letters until July 17 only existed due to an omission in the original ordinance. Councilor John Lackey said that if the percentage were lower and closer to 33 percent, then perhaps it would make more sense for the council to wait.
In what became a heated public hearing, local attorney Steve Joseph was called out for his active participation in gathering letters of remonstrance.
"By golly, when somebody comes and asks me why we don't have those events anymore, Steve Joseph, I'm giving them your phone number and you can certainly explain it to them," Councilor John Bozarth said.
"I'd be happy to," Joseph said. "That's a personal attack that I vehemently object to. Let's talk about …ag-timber parade. What caused that to be moved from La Grande to Island City? This council."
Bozarth said Joseph spear-headed the effort to end the EID effort, so that's who he would direct his comments to.
Mayor Pro Tem Mary Ann Miesner then said the council should move to close the hearing and vote to stop the ordinance effort, but mentioned the importance of downtown.
"I don't want to hear about about business owners not caring about downtown," said Jerry Grant, owner of Mt. Emily Ale House. "I care a lot, I've invested a lot in this town. But you guys didn't do things right."
Strope then recommended that the council close the hearing before things got more heated.
"I don't know that there's any value in continuing to belabor the point," he said.