City Administrator Report



The wastewater treatment plant cost estimate is still rough, but is in the range of $5.25 to $6.0 million.  It is composed of three main cost components: (1) Flume Improvements – $300,000 to $350,000, (2) Biosolids Removal, $600,000 to $800,000, and (3) WWTP Construction and overall Project/Construction Management, $4,500,000.  In addition there are other costs that are associated with the work: Otak, Shannon and Wilson, Tetra Teach and City of Vernonia will have direct costs for project management, testing, compliance, and project administration.


The financing plan for the WWTP improvements is evolving.  The open DEQ Loan R93642 will be closed following the completion of the Flume Improvement Project.  The total expense of that loan will be approximately $4.7 million.  The City will pursue a second DEQ CWSRF loan for the balance of the construction project.  The new Point Source loan application will be approximately $6.0 million.  The terms of repayment will be twenty years from the date of construction completion for both loans – we are expecting that that date will be December 2015 assuming construction is completed by December 2014.  The current loan carries a coupon rate of 2.93%; the estimated interest rate on the new debt will be 1.96%.  The reduced interest rate is the primary reason to close out the current loan and pursue a new loan.  The City will also look at pursuing a line of credit to facilitate the construction process through a conventional financial institution.    In addition, the City may refinance existing debt to provide some positive relief to our rate payers.   The City invited a representative from Wedbush Securities to the Public Works Committee 3-26-13 who will describe the preferred financing option for the City.


The City of Vernonia along with development team members from Otak, Tetra Tech, Pacific Habitat and Shannon and Wilson, met on 3-13-13 with NOAA National Marine Fisheries Services to lay out areas of agreement and concern as it relates to completing an environmental assessment.  The meeting will also be attended by staff from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.  DEQ staff serves as the financing agent, the regulator and the compliance arm of WEPA, from which they get their funding. We are  asking,  as a result of the hyporheic discharge infiltration process will there be an impact to fish habitat?  What we are assessing and trying to reach agreement on is the model that is used by NOAA NMFS and Shannon & Wilson//Tetra Tech.


Otak developed a Biosolids Sampling Plan which is approved by DEQ.   Otak will meet with City staff this week to establish our plan for implementing the sampling plan.  Otak is also working on a comprehensive Biosolids Plan.  Otak identified a firm (Alexin Analytical Laboratories) to complete the testing.  The cost estimate for 21 samples is $5,750.


The Otak plans for Flume Improvement  are approved by DEQ.  There is a proposal for Shannon and Wilson to provide geotechnical engineering support to this project on the 3-18-13 agenda.  The City will work with Otak to develop an Invitation to Bid process to fast track the selection of a general contractor for this project.




Both the Parks Committee and the Public Works Committee have provided comments to Dan Heffernan and Tom Wood and Brad Curtis to allow the Master Capital Plan to be completed and brought forward to City Council.  The draft document will be brought forward to Council in April 2013.  Both Parks Committee and Public Works committee have reviewed and with a few changes forwarded the document to City Council.


The Public Works Committee was informed that the City Administrator is developing a scope of work to bring forward to the PWC in April or May to secure the services of Dan Heffernan Company et al to complete the SDC fee schedule update.  This update grows out of the Master Capital Plan project.


As promised last year, Oregon Association of Water Utilities is reviewing our revenue and expenses for the first two quarters of the fiscal year to provide guidance to the City Council on how to manage adjustments to the water utility rate in the future.  I hope to have that information to City Council soon.  To modify the impact of any increase, City intends to temper the increase by refinancing one USDA water bond this year.


FCS Group is working on a preliminary sewer rate study document to share with the Public Works Committee.  They may be invited to the 3-26-13 PWC for a discussion.  I have provided the basic assumptions for them to use in developing their model and options.  The Committee can comment on how we step into the new rate that allows for a payment of the new principle and interest and the establishment of higher loan reserves in calendar year 2015 as an increase in the sewer rates over the next twenty-one months.  Again the City intends to temper the increase by refinancing two USDA sewer bonds this year.


The City has been meeting with PBS Engineering and Environmental consultants Heidi Yantz and Jerry Orlando.  They have completed a review of documents and are prepared to have an introductory meeting with the Public Works Committee serving also as the EPA Brownfield Assessment Advisory Committee.  This initial meeting will be at the PWC meeting of 3-26-13.  Members of PBS Engineering + Environmental will be in town to conduct windshield surveys to prepare a presentation for the Public Works Committee and City Council.




The City continues to work with a development team to see improvement for a business park atop the planer shed base.


The development team for the Rose Avenue Project (e.g. Scott Edwards, architects and Community Action Team) are developing a site plan that will lay out the plans to upgrade a section of Weed Avenue and complete improvements on a section of Cougar Street.  A draft site plan will be shared with City Council by April 1, 2013.


The City will work with both teams to assess eligibility for grants and potentially loans for these street improvements.



The City is working with ODOT to determine if we can secure funding to assist the City to coordinate with Columbia County in planning for the eventual completion of the C-Z Trail in the city linking it to Vernonia Lake.  Columbia County envisions that the City will work in collaboration with Columbia County to find a route within the city limits.  We will know soon whether this project can fit the state’s criteria.




The City is now working under No LGP0252-1 Spencer Park Development.  City staff met with OPRD to discuss the contracting process for using the funds for at least two clearly defined purposes: (1) purchase of restroom facility to be erected at a site between the proposed new baseball fields (California Avenue and Bridge Street) and (2) a picnic shelter.  The City is working with Vernonia School District to include design specification for this component of the project in that bid package.  The City has preliminary agreement that using salvaged materials from the Washington Grade School may be used in developing a plan for a picnic shelter to be located west of the covered play area.  My goal is to develop an ad hoc team to work on a concept for the picnic shelter, to assess what forms of professional support we can secure locally and then select a design professional to put forward a plan.


The City is now working under No LGP0252-2 Master Capital Plan.  The project manager with MacKay and Sposito Landscape Architects is working with the City GIS to establish a map of the central park district.  When this is completed he will set up an informational meeting with the community through the Parks Committee.




City staff participated in the HSEMC meeting which focused on discussing to renew the Intergovernmental Agreement between Columbia County and members to fund an Emergency Management coordinator.  We can anticipate seeing the IGA by June 2013.


The City met with OPRD staff in connection with the land transfer that created a land exchange between the City and the State in 2010.  The site planner, Scott Edwards architects, informed the City that access to more of the OPRD controlled land due south of the Umatilla Street platted vacated Right of Way would be of value if the City can expand the land transferred to include that property.  OPRD staff indicated that through any combination of a fee simple expansion of the transfer agreement and/or through easements, permits, or MOUs additional land may be secured.  I plan to work with Sid Scott AIA to develop a precise profile of the land needed before I reengage OPRD staff.

The Vernonia Health Center Board is in the process of raising required capital through fund raising efforts.  They will have a meet and greet work session in April 2013 with a small number of private foundations.  Senator Betsy Johnson will co-convene this meeting with Marie Krahn, VHB chairperson.  City staff will participate in this event.

The City anticipates initiating an entitlement process for the clinic component of the project in April 2013.  Likely the City Engineer and the City Planner will be the initial points of contact to assist the site planning team to develop a package for Planning Commission review.


The City Administrator met with City Council in work sessions to discuss and plan for the development of a wage compensation plan for all city staff.  The initial step is to update all job descriptions.  Under review is to modify and or rearrange job duties among key city classifications.   When this is completed the City will compile a short list of comparable cities to establish as our peers for the purpose of the classification process.  The City Council views this as a multi-year project but it will form the basis of making sure that we are competitive whenever we look to hiring workers for future job opportunities.