City Department Updates: October 17- 31

ADMINISTRATION / UTILITY BILLING 

• 102 shut off notices were mailed out. Shut offs were scheduled for Wednesday the 22nd. Out of the 102 accounts still on the shut off list on Monday, 96 made payments, 12 called to say they would pay on Friday. Only six customers were shut off.

• As of 10/23/2014 the outstanding balances were as follows:

30 days past due: $ 8,382.64

60 days past due: $ 2,791.33

90 days past due: $ 1,452.06

• 896 utility bills were mailed  for a total of $124,104.78 billed.

• While reviewing multi-unit dwelling accounts, staff noticed some inconsistencies in some accounts. These inconsistencies occurred when the new billing software was implemented. Staff is in the process of verifying the correct billing for these accounts. Findings will be presented to Council for information with the intent to have corrections made in time for the next billing cycle.

• City Hall has been receiving many calls about burn permits: For information please call the Vernonia Fire Department 503-429-8252.

• As a reminder to our citizens: Waste Management Transfer Station is open the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month: 8am -2pm except Holidays. The location is off California Avenue.

 

POLICE DEPARTMENT – VPD 

• October 10th, 2014 – October 16, 2014 – The Vernonia Police Department responded to (45) calls for service.

• October 17th, 2014 – October 24, 2014 – The Vernonia Police Department responded to (61) calls for service.

• VPD will have high school student ride along/s over the next few weeks. One is an exchange student that is doing a report about government and the other is doing the ride along for a Senior Project. The student doing the Senior Project will need a minimum of 20 hours ride time.

• One resident in the 400 block of A St. has failed to correct Nuisance Violations and has been issued a citation. The property will be rechecked as we get closer to the court date. As of 10/24/2014 the resident that had not corrected the problem/s has made some progress, but all violations have not yet been corrected.

• VPD has received a few other nuisance complaints that are occurring in the same area. The complaints are primarily about vehicle parking, e.g. vehicles parked the wrong way, vehicles left for long periods, and congestion. We are working on correcting the issues.

• VPD policy updates are still in progress.

• Reserve Police Officer Update: Last week I reported that we had only two applicants for Police Reserve Positions. However, after I had turned in my report, I received two more was scheduled for October 27th, 2014.

• The Vernonia Police Department’s webpage was up and running well but it appears that someone was able to gain access to the admin page and created some problems and deleted some data. We believe the “hacking” has been corrected. We are working on repairing the data that was tampered with.

• The first of the two new/used patrol vehicles is ready to be put in service and you will start to see it on the road. We are still working on the second one. In an effort to maintain low miles on the new vehicles, they will not generally be used for take home/on call duties unless needed for adverse weather. The vehicles may still be seen outside the city when necessary for the officers to transport people to jail, training, and court.

 

FINANCE 

• Finance Administrator continued work on the funding process for the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) project. It has been determined that DEQ will be the most cost effective source of interim funding. The application process has been started, but is not due until late November.

• A meeting was held to update the City on the current status of the bid documents for the WWTP last Friday. City Administrator, Finance Administrator, and City Engineer were present. The bid documents are ready and the advertisement for bids has been prepared. As soon as we receive approval of the RFP from USDA we will advertise.

• Of the nine applications that were received for the Librarian position, four applicants were chosen for interviews, which were held on  October 28th. The interview panel  consisted of the City Administrator, HR/Finance Administrator, Grant Williams-a member of the Library Board and the Librarian from the City of Clatskanie.  We hope to make an offer before October 31st.

• As a follow-up to the annual audit a couple of weeks ago our auditors (Grove, Muelle & Swank) requested some extra documents in order to complete the audit. Finance Administrator was able to produce all information requested and we should be receiving a draft of the audit soon.

• Finance Administrator requested information from Ricoh, whom the City leases its copiers from, regarding a printer for the Library. Their current printer is extremely old and no longer has a service contract which means all maintenance and supplies have to come out of their budget. We are hopeful that Ricoh will be able to provide us with a new printer/copier for them. The monthly cost covers all maintenance and toner. The Library charges patrons for printing and for making copies. These charges would cover the majority of the cost of the lease. Based on our current lease the cost will be minimal for the size of machine they will need.

• ISOutsource (the City’s IT provider) informed the Finance Administrator of the need to upgrade the City’s server operating system. The operating system is six years old and will need to be upgraded in order to continue to receive support from Windows and receive software updates that keep our information safe from hackers as well as loss in the event of a computer failure. A quote for the upgrade and subsequent labor associated with it has been provided and was presented to Council at the City Council meeting on November 3.

• The Finance Administrator has been working with Munibilling to provide our utility customers with the ability to pay their bill online. This has been a long time coming and we hope to have it up and running by the next billing cycle in November. Customers will be able to login to their utility account and will have the option of making payments each month or setting up for automatic payments to be withdrawn each month. Customers will also have the option of paperless billing – the option to receive their bill via email.

• Finance Administrator met with Drew Davis of USDA Rural Development to go over the funding requirements. There is an extensive checklist of documents that need to be sent to USDA over the course of the project in order to receive the funds. Drew has been very helpful throughout the process.

• Finance Administrator worked with Public Works Foreman to assess the staffing needs of the Public Works Department and the ability of the City to fill those needs. This is a work in progress, but we hope to have a positive outcome soon.

 

PUBLIC WORKS 

• Public Works staff repaired a water leak on “G” Street. The leak turned out to be a very difficult one to locate and when it was finally located it turned out to be an old 1 inch black poly line that tees off to serve two homes. Public Works will be replacing this with two separate service lines, one for each meter. These service lines are about 250 feet long.

• PW crew was presented with a problem with the street sweeper. The issue was found to be an electrical problem that took most of an afternoon to locate and repair. The sweeper is now repaired and it will be out very often over the next few weeks sweeping leaves. Given the limitations of limited staff and ever present emergencies, the sweeper will not be out on a set schedule, but it will be out at least once on every street in town and some streets will be cleaned more than once, depending on the amount of trees and leaves on the ground.

• We would like to remind our citizens that putting extra leaves from yards in the street or open ditches is not recommended. Extra leaves create clogging of the sweeper and create problems that require PW crew time for repair and afford less time for actual sweeping/cleaning of streets. In addition this time of the year leaves usually create problems by plugging up the water intakes at the water plant and causing raw water turbidity to increase, and other problems.

• The maintenance staff is cleaning the roof gutters of City buildings.

• PW Staff has been requesting bids for a security fence for Sewer Pump Station No. 1. Once all bids are in, a proposal will be presented to Council for review and approval. We anticipate installation of the fence within the next month.

• Replacement lumber has been ordered for the repair of Anderson Park Play Ground Structure, and has been picked up. The repair work is a Volunteer Project with the Park Department supplying the material. This is a long overdue project. The play structure at Anderson Park was originally installed in 2001. Where did time go?

• All three of the sewer’s pump station generators were serviced. This is a yearly preventative maintenance procedure that is contracted out. The generators must be in perfect working condition in case of a power outage.

• Public Works staff continued to work on the water meter ground truthing project this week. It is a very time consuming project, but we hope to have it completed by the end of the month.

• Water plant daily operations have been requiring a staff person to remain on-site full time. The first rainfall has affected the raw water considerably. The changes in raw water quality require constant minor adjustments of plant flow and coagulants. With the leaves falling, there are also times when the intake screen gets plugged up with debris, mostly leaves, requiring staff to physically rake the debris from the screen. There is an alarm that calls staff when the intake station runs low because the screen gets blocked.

• Public Works will be changing the master water meter at Riverside Meadows. This compound meter is currently not reading the high water flow. A compound meter is really two meters in one as it has a small meter to read small amounts of water flow up to 30 GPM (gallons per minute) and a 4 inch meter to read the higher flows of over 30 GPM. The replacement cost of this meter is $2100. Time to replace this meter will take 2 or 3 staff the better part of a day to complete, not counting prep time. This meter change will also require turning off the water to approximately 30 customers while work is being done. Parts have not yet been ordered.

• Public Works staff spent time exercising water valves around town.

• The Water Plant was dumped  for quarterly cleaning and maintenance. This task takes an entire day to complete.

• Public Works staff replaced a water service on Stoney Point Rd.

• Public Works staff has also been changing all of the sewer pump station computer settings to match the higher winter flows. This involves resetting the level at which the pumps turn on and off, and the level at which the second or lag pump starts.

 

PLANNING / BUILDING 

• The Building and Electrical Inspectors continue to keep up with the ongoing projects that are developing around town.

• The new homes that are being built on 4th Avenue and at Nickerson Ridge will be ready for new owners very soon.

• City Planner, Carole Connell attended the October 20, 2014 City Council Public Hearing to report on the Planning Commission recommendation for a Plan/Zone Map amendment to change the designation of the Lincoln School Parcel on Bridge Street from a Residential R zone to a General Commercial GC Zone.

• Vernonia Health Center had their Grand Opening on Saturday, October 25th under a huge tent to a standing room only audience. It was attended by Senator Betsy Johnson, Representative Brad Witt, Commissioner Tony Hyde, Mayor Josette Mitchell, the Keasey family, Five Star Builders Project Managers, and many others that supported the project and by those that will be part of the staff.

 

LIBRARY 

• On October 31, and November 1, “The Friends of the Library” had a Book Sale at the library.

• Circulation statistics: 400 pieces of material were checked out during the week of October 9th.

• Circulation statistics: 446 pieces of material were checked out at the library during the week of October 22 through October 29

• During the month of October, 13 new patrons applied for library cards. “Welcome new members!” Our staff is looking forward to helping you in the future.

• Library staff would like to thank the City of Vernonia for all their hard work on the behalf of the library, to help restore our public computers to working condition. Thank you.

• The Book Discussion Group met to review and discuss the book “A Tale For The Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki.

• On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, the Library Board held their monthly meeting at 10:00am. Thank you to the Library Board for all the support and volunteer time you give every month.

• Tuesday, November 4, 2014, was “Movie Night.” Please call the library at 503-429- 1818 for upcoming events.

• The “Stamp Club” meets at 4:30pm on Thursdays. All ages are welcome.

 

CITY CLERK 

• City Recorder has been looking at the retention schedule and cleaning out some much needed space. A retention schedule is a document listing all the titles of the records series, length of time each document or record will be retained as an active record, the reason for its retention (administrative, legal, fiscal, and historical) and disposition agreed by the user. A clearly defined plan for a record retention and disposal is a vital component of a records program.

• City Council has been holding General Work Sessions which  are informal meetings  to review upcoming issues, receive special reports, conduct goal setting or hold special training sessions. No vote or final action is taken while in a work session and no audience participation is allowed unless permitted by the consent of a majority of the council present.

• Thanks to Iwa Leininger (Police Department Records/Assistant) and her family and Angie Handegard (Finance Administrator) and her family, for all of the Halloween decorations. Fantastic job everyone. Thanks Chamber of Commerce for bringing this fun display back to the businesses.

CITY ADMINISTRATOR 

• As a follow-up to the City Administrator draft of the Ordinance, the Legal Department (City Attorneys Ruben Cleaveland and Alexandra Susnkowski) completed the review of Ordinance 896 pertaining to the establishment of a tax on the sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products. The Ordinance was approved at the City Council meeting on Monday, October 20th.

• The City Administrator attended the “Meet the Candidates” forum that introduced candidates for Vernonia’s Mayor and City Council, for Columbia County Commissioner and Circuit Court Judge.

• Department Heads Staff Meetings are held every week. This is an opportunity for the different departments to share information, and to become aware of potential common issues that demand a comprehensive and collective strategy. As a result information is shared more freely within the organization, so that appropriate measures can be taken to preempt potential crisis and so that the organization does not operate constantly on an “emergency response mode.” This also offers the opportunity to be a more transparent organization, to receive public feedback and therefore articulate more comprehensive and successful recommendations/solutions for our Council.

• The demolition of the old Health Center is mostly complete. After consulting with Oregon Emergency Management on the timeline we were able to extend the contract into November. This pertains to clean-up and site-restoration. Dan Brown (Community Action Team Flood Recovery Manager) is directing the cooperation of the different agencies involved, and assisting the City.

• City Administrator and PW Foreman inspected the compound water meter (2 meters combined) at Nehalem RV Park. The second meter (currently a 6”) is not working. This second meter (the larger of the two meters) is only triggered by a high flow/volume of water. Records show that given the amount of water used by the development the limited amount of water would have not triggered the start of the larger meter.

• City Administrator met with Scott Laird (Park Committee’s Chair) to discuss Parks Committee focus, vision, goals and upcoming projects. This was a very effective way of comprehensively briefing the City Administrator about how the Committee had historically focused on its tasks and responsibilities, and to review the different plans and personnel needs to make the department and organization successful.

• City staff has been researching information about a potential replacement fence at the Pump Station off California Ave/Lagoon Drive. The pump station lies in the floodplain and so its construction needs to meet specific FEMA requirements. The City Administrator has contacted Scott VanHoff (FEMA Floodplain Management Specialist) for some guidance and suggestion. Some funds are still available from CIS to potentially purchase the fence. Once all the necessary information is collected, (FEMA compliance, construction costs, budget resources, and design) the item will be presented to City Council for review and deliberation.

• City Administrator met with Mayor Mitchell to review “Handbook of Council Projects Priorities.”

• City Administrator, Finance Administrator and Utilities Billing Clerk met with Dale Webb (Public Works Committee) to review, and clarify current data, and present situation about specific water meters. City Staff, PW Committee and City Council have been working on reviewing, clarifying and correcting old data. It is anticipated that work will proceed through joint work sessions, and committee/subcommittee meetings.

• City Administrator, City Clerk and Mayor Mitchell met to review the Council Meeting Agenda Format. The agenda format was streamlined, and brought into compliance with ORS requirements and standards. Staff is constantly and periodically reviewing all relevant documents, policies and protocols for potential needed updates (and for legal compliance).