City News

At the October 20, 2014 City Council Meeting: 

Council Approves Zone Change-Council approved an application from Bud and Sharla Dow to change the zone designation for the Lincoln School property from Residential R to General Commercial GC.  (See full story on front page)

Topics From the Floor – Council heard an update on activities at Vernonia Schools from Summer Snow and Alexis Baska representing the Vernonia High School Leadership Class.

Council Approves Marijuana Tax – Council held a public hearing to consider adoption of Ordinance 896 establishing a tax on the sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products in the City of Vernonia.  Measure 91, which was voted on in Oregon on November 4 would legalize marijuana in the state.  Council’s legal advisor Ruban Cleaveland advised Council that there is no current law that prohibits local governments from taxing marijuana, but the passage of Measure 91 could restrict local governments from instituting taxes.  Cleaveland advised Council that many cities in Oregon are considering establishing taxes ahead of the possible passage of Measure 91.  Council approved the first reading of Ordinance 896 which taxes up to 20%, of  the gross receipts of sales of marijuana, medical marijuana and marijuana infused products.

Council Receives Quarterly Financial Report – City Finance Director Angie Handegard provided Council with a quarterly financial report.  Handegard reported that the city looks to be on track financially with several funds doing better than expected.

Council Amends Water Ordinance – Council adopted Ordinance 897, which amends Ordinance 895 to clarify the rules and regulations for the conduct and management of the Water Department.  City staff had requested this amendment because some the language and changes of policy in Ordinance 895 were not clear.  The amendment to Section 4  adds subsections 4.1 and 4.2  and explains how accounts considered “inactive”  or “Temporary Vacancy/Stand By” should be charged.  

Council Accepts Resignation From PW Committee- Council accepted the resignation of Jacob Lee from the Public Works Committee.

Police Chief Provides Data – At the request of Council Vernonia Police Chief Mike Conner provided a report detailing the costs associated with officer’s on-call shifts and driving police vehicles home.  Council took no action.

At the November 3, 2014 City Council Meeting:

Council Hears Presentation on “Walk Your Wheels” - Council heard a presentation by Paula Hansen about a project she is working on called “Walk Your Wheels.”  Hansen has addressed Council in the past concerning the danger of  bikes, skateboards and other wheeled vehicles on sidewalks in downtown Vernonia.  Hansen told Council she has done a survey of downtown business owners and almost everyone signed a petition she presented to Council saying their business had been negatively affected by riding on sidewalks and would like the City to post signage concerning local laws.  Hansen presented Council with an idea for a sign, gave them an estimate of $51.84 per sign and said eight signs were needed.  She said she would be attending a Lions Club meeting to see if they would be interested in supporting the project.  Council said they were in support of the project and suggested a meeting of downtown business owners to discuss placement of the signs as well as what to do about other issues, namely the trees in the downtown corridor.  Council asked staff to arrange a meeting and asked Hansen to come back after she had met with the Lions Club.

Council approves two Eagle Scout Projects – Council heard a presentation from John Fitch of Boy Scout Troop 201, representing Brad Ely who is working on an Eagle Scout project to repair and replace interpretive signs at Vernonia Lake and along the Linear Trail.   Ely has raised most of the funds and secured materials he needs for the project, but asked Council for $560 to buy the acrylic plexiglass for the display signs.  Council approved the funds from the Parks budget.

Council also heard a presentation from Jacob Eyrrick who is also working on an Eagle Scout project.  Eyrrick proposed creating a brochure which would highlight local services for hikers and bikers visiting Vernonia on the State Trail and asked permission to place brochure holders at Anderson Park and Vernonia Lake.  Council approved his request.

Topics From the Floor – Sally Harrison told Council that the Vernonia Ridge Riders equestrian group has asked her to be their spokesperson in dealing with the City about the dispute over their lease for the horse arena.  Harrison stated that a judge has overturned the decision that previously negated the lease so the lease is still enforceable.  Harrison said the judge gave a ninety day period before a pre-trial hearing would be held and encouraged the parties to resolve the  disagreement without going to trial.  Harrison asked that the City meet with the Ridge Riders to discuss the problems with the lease and that the Ridge Riders would really like to get the issue resolved.  Council made no response to Harrison’s request.

Council Approves Second Reading of Ordinance – Council approved the second reading of Ordinance 896, establishing a tax on the sale of marijuana in the City of Vernonia.  The ordinance becomes effective immediately.

Council Approves Computer Server Upgrade - Council approved a proposal from ISOutsource, their IT support service, for an infrastructure upgrade to maintain the integrity and security of the City’s information.  The cost estimate is $8600 for new software and labor.  This upgrade was not in the budget but  became a priority when the  City computer system was recently attacked by a computer virus.  Council approved the upgrade and moved money from contingency to pay for it.

Council Instructs Staff to Move Forward with Tree Removal – Council was informed there are two “dangerous” trees on City property that need to be removed, one in the parking area at the new Spencer Park and one at Ora Bolmeir Park.  Council instructed staff to get bids to remove the trees.

Council Forms Subcommittee – Council agreed to form a subcommittee  to resolve ongoing issues concerning water and sewer rates.  The subcommittee would include members of the City Council, the Public Works Committee and City staff  and would bring suggested actions back to the Public Works Committee and City Council.

Council Receives Request for Book Storage – Council received a request from the Friends of the Library group to continue using an office in the  VCLC  building to store donated books for future book sales.  Because the City is considering leasing the building to the Vernonia Senior Center for their resale shop, the Friends of the Library expressed concern that they may not have a dry, climate controlled and vermin free space to store books they accumulate throughout the year.  The Friends of the Library have supported the Vernonia Library with over $4900 in books, materials, equipment and programs during the last two years.  Council instructed staff to include the request while negotiating any lease by the Senior Center for use of the VCLC.