City Administrators Report April 15, 2013



The City provided information on the WWTP project at the Vernonia School District April 17, 2013 Town Hall meeting.  Handouts were available on the elements of the project, the project schedule, and the budget and financing plans now under review.


The Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) facility improvements project cost estimate is unchanged, with total project cost established within a $5.25 to $6.0 million range.  Otak provided the State with an engineer’s estimate for the Biosolids removal and Flume Improvement projects of $800,000 and $305,000 respectively.  This is a minor reduction in the estimate that we used to date (- $45,000).  The new construction hyporheic discharge WWTP facility improvements are estimated at $4.5 million.  There are various other construction management, materials testing, and project administration costs that need to be firmed up. 


The PWC did not recommend pursuing refinancing the USDA RUS bonds using Wedbush Securities due to their requirement that the funds would need a 1.25 Debt Coverage Ratio and that would require a significant short-term increase in rates to achieve.  The City Administrator is now looking at three options for financing the wastewater treatment plant facility improvements: (1) continue to use the existing DEQ loan and expand it by amendment in an amount as needed – term 20 years at 2.93% interest; (2) close the existing DEQ loan after using about $1.2 million to complete biosolids and flume improvements, and pursue a new DEQ loan for the WWTP new construction project, both loans would be 20 year term, the respective interest rates would be 2.93% and <2.0%; and (3) close the existing DEQ loan after using about $1.2 million to complete biosolids and flume improvements, and secure a new USDA loan to fund at least the WWTP new construction and refinance the old USDA debt, 40 year term at <2.75%.  We will also assess whether the DEQ debt created to date can be refinanced.  Options #1 and #2 are the most likely outcomes of our pursuit of additional capital to complete the WWTP project.


City staff completed the Biosolids Sampling protocol on April 3, 2013; and the samples were delivered to a testing lab in Tigard.  The testing process requires about 45 days to conduct a review process, and then an additional week to develop a report.  Otak is in the process of calculating the volume of biosolids to be removed. Otak is developing a scope of work to use in hiring a firm to dredge and dewater the biosolids.




FCS Group is working on a preliminary sewer rate study document to share with the Public Works Committee.  FCS Group will attend a joint PWC meeting with Council on 4-23-13.


PBS Engineering and Environmental consultants Heidi Yantz and Jerry Orlando met with PBS on Saturday April 13, 2013 to develop eligibility criteria and to begin the process of site priorities.




A Park Host transferred from Vernonia Lake to Airport Park.  The Park Host at Anderson Park is doing well as park use ramps up.




The City contacted a local real estate broker to provide a comparison evaluation to establish a market price for the facility.  The real estate professional shared that land has lost significant value since the 2008 economic slide.  His whole house assessment was that the house had value to a potential seller as a rental or a fixer upper.  In our discussion he felt that the property could be sold as is and leave to the investor how that may want to modify the parcel for future development.  The City Administrator walked the property and inspected the house and outbuilding – there are significant repairs needed.  The City will seek a home inspector to conduct a physical system inventory and establish a repair schedule.  The Building Department will not be able to conduct the analysis of the house.


The City was able to contact the asset manager that represents the owner of the Park Drive vacant house.  They sent a contractor out to board up a broken window, but declined to board up the house.  We are contacting them again to assess their ability to demolish the deck in the front of the house that is dry rotted and a potential hazard to park users.  After discussing condemnation options with our legal team it is clear that this tool is not well suited for our goal at this site.


IFA Project Coordinator Melanie Olson conducted an onsite project monitoring April 11, 2013.  She met with the City Finance Administrator, and the CDBG Grant Administrator, Community Action Team.  This is a typical part of the pre-closeout grant functions of the CDBG program.




The City Recorder coordinated with Kim Gorman, Director of Children, Youth, & Family Ministries.  Christ United Methodist Church to organize a mixed denomination youth groups community services project on April 6-7-8, 2013.  You may have seen a few dozen young adults and their leaders working at the Shay Park flower beds, open space lots along Bear Creek, at the Vernonia Historical Museum, and at the city limits.  Weeding, trash collection, some pruning and the planting of bulbs.  The group stayed at the Vernonia School District campus. The group provided everything.  We are very thankful for their support.


The City contacted CCCTAC to get information on their scope of work to make an informational presentation to City Council in the future.


Staff was unable to attend the CCSWAC on Tuesday April 9, 2013.  The committee reviewed the following project areas:

•  Transfer Station Management Options Review The County obtained an appraisal of the Transfer Station – $1,850,000.  Staff looked at various options for management of the facility in advance of the expiration of the current management contract with Waste Management. These options included possible sale or long term lease of the facility and going back to regulation of transfer and disposal by franchise.  However, since this appraisal came in so much lower than the outstanding principal balance on our loan (currently over $3 million) and due to limitations on the public loan which would have required that we privately refinance the facility before sale or lease, the sale or lease options appear not to be feasible. We had previously looked at operating the facility with County employees vs using a contract operator and the findings were that it would not be to the County’s economic advantage to do so. So, this leaves the option of rebidding the operations contract. Since the previous Waste Management contract expired in March of this year, the Board exercised a one year extension option, extending the contract to March 2014. This will give us time to complete our review of options with the Board and complete the bidding process should that be the selected option.

•  HHW Program Due to budget limitations, the County has had to reduce the number of HHW events from fourteen (12 at St Helens and 2 remote events in Clatskanie and Vernonia) to about four per year(two in St Helens and the two remote events). This means higher volumes of cars and materials at the events we are holding. We have been working with Waste Management and other to come up with ways to reduce the volume of cars and materials. For example we are looking to handle medical sharps Monday thru Saturday to eliminate the large numbers of cars bringing only these to the events. Also, we are trying to educate the public that latex and acrylic paints are not HHW and can be brought to the Transfer Station Monday thru Saturday. Likewise, bulk oils can be taken in Monday thru Saturday. Our March event had a whopping 191 cars in four hours. Our next event is in Vernonia on April 13th and the next event at the Transfer Station will be on July 27th.


Members of the Columbia County Unmet Needs Committee conducted their (potentially) last meeting on April 4, 2013.  The following items were discussed: financial statements, project status, program closeout, removal of FEMA trailers, relocation of staff, reduced staff hours and final disbursement of all discretionary funds through Columbia County.


Scott Edwards Architects and Community Action Team in partnership with the Vernonia Area Senior Center, Vernonia Cares Food bank, and Vernonia Health Center Board plan to meet with City Council on May 6, 2013.  The City Administrator participated at the NW Health Foundation kick off capital campaign for the Vernonia Health Center component of the project – we made a presentation to the Meyer Memorial Trust and The Ford Family Foundation.  The City Administrator met with Larry McKinley, ODOT Area 1 Regional Manager to discuss traffic planning and coordination with ODOT.


The City awaits the outcome of the OPRD bikeway advisory meeting as a part of the commission hearing on May 8, 2013.  A copy of the draft plan is found at the following URL  City staff discussed trail way signage with the Washington County Visitors Association.