$3 million water system project planned

By Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer November 14, 2012 04:16 pm

The Island City City Council set the wheels in motion Monday night for a nearly $3 million reconstruction of the city’s water system.

During its regular session, the council heard a report from Brad Baird, a consulting engineer from Anderson Perry & Associates. Baird detailed a proposed project that includes a new supply well, a new 500,000 gallon reservoir, a new booster pump station and other improvements. 

He said the $3 million estimated cost could move up or down, depending on inflation and whether the city decides to go ahead with the full project or eliminate some improvements.

“This is a conservative estimate, and we have attempted to include everything that could impact the budget,” Baird said.

Island City may apply for a $3 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development fund, and may also qualify for some grant funding. Baird said the USDA requires the city to have bonding authority.

He said the city could proceed with a general obligation bond, which would give the city authority to put a portion or all of the debt on taxes. A vote is required for a general obligation bond. Another option is a revenue bond with an election, allowing the debt service to be paid by water rates. 

A third funding option, Baird said, is a revenue bond with a remonstrance period. In that approach, the city would pass a resolution and publish it in the local newspaper. There would then be a 60-day remonstrance period, with bonding authority achieved if less than 5 percent of the city’s registered voters object. If more than 5 percent object, the issue would go to a vote.

Following Baird’s talk, the council approved a motion giving Mayor Dale DeLong authority to submit an application to USDA. Baird said applying does not put the city under an obligation to take a loan.

According to a tentative schedule outlined by Baird, the project could begin in the summer of 2013, and be complete by the fall of 2014.

In other business Monday, the council heard a report from Union County Deputy Sheriff Nick Pallis, who said the Sheriff’s Office has increased hours spent in Island City due to a recent rash of property and other crimes. Pallis said that during October, hours were increased from the regular 80, to 140.

“We’ve been noticing an upward swing in criminal activity. We’re actively trying to find out who the people are in the area that are causing the problems.” Pallis said. He said an uptick in crime isn’t uncommon for this time of year, and that other Union County communities are seeing the same thing.

Also Monday, the council heard from Island City resident Debra Stevens, who read a statement asking the council to set a hearing date for John Fregulia’s application for a conditional use permit for the trucking company he operates on Buchanan Lane. Debra Stevens and her husband, Scott, have long objected to the company operating next to their residence. Debra Stevens said the city should either set a hearing date or deny Fregulia the permit.

“Last week we met with our attorney who is prepared to file suit against the city. That includes everyone on this panel,” she told the council. The council listened without comment.

In still more business, the council heard a presentation by Lisa Dawson of the Northeast Oregon Economic Development Corporation. Dawson said her agency had received a $400,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program to do assessments on environmentally contaminated properties that have potential for returning to productive use. She said her purpose at the meeting was to make the council aware of the program.

Also during the meeting, Mike Moeller of the accounting firm of Seydel, Lewis, Poe, Moeller, and Gunderson gave the annual audit report.

At the outset of Monday’s meeting, the council observed a moment of silence for Harry Thomas, the councilor who died last month at the age of 91 in Tillamook.

Councilor Robb Rea presided over the ceremony, prefacing it with remarks on Thomas’s life and 20 years service to Island City.

“Harry spent his whole life in service to others,” Rea said. “His caring concern for each of the city staff members will be missed.”

Kevin Bradshaw was elected to Thomas’s seat Nov. 6. He takes office in January.