At the January 5, 2015 City Council Meeting:
Mayor and New Councilors Sworn In- Mayor Josette Mitchell and new City Councilors Jill Hult and Mike Seager took the oath of office following their election in November 2014. Mitchell returns as Mayor for her third term; this is the first term for Seager and Hult.
Council Names President and Committee Liaisons-City Councilor Randy Parrow was elected City Council President by the rest of the Council. New Councilor Jill Hult will act as Council liaison to the Airport Committee, Mike Seager will act as liaison to the Public Works Committee. Councilor Parrow, who is already liaison to the Parks Committee, will also serve as liaison to the Library Board. Mayor Josette Mitchell will continue to serve as liaison to the Cemetery Committee and Councilor Kim Tierney will continue to serve as liaison to the Emergency Preparedness Committee.
Mayor Appoints Roberts to Parks Committee- Mayor Josette Mitchell, with approval from Council, appointed Brittanie Roberts to the Parks Committee.
Topics From the Floor- Paula Hanson told Council that the signs for the “Walk Your Wheels” Campaign are being installed at downtown businesses and thanked Council for their support and how easily the project came together. The “Walk Your Wheels” safety project was initiated by Hanson to encourage users of bicycles, skateboards and scooters to follow local ordinance 764, which prohibits riding on sidewalks in downtown, and to encourage local law enforcement to enforce the ordinance. Council later gave permission for a “Walk Your Wheels” sign to be installed on the Vernonia Community Learning Center by City staff.
Scott Laird told Council that he has been researching the “Walk Your Wheels” project and noted that he had learned after speaking with Vernonia Police Chief Mike Conner, that the area covered in the ordinance that prohibits riding on sidewalks extends from Weed Avenue all the way to California Avenue. Laird suggested that Council consider reviewing the ordinance and shorten the zone.
Sally Harrison spoke on behalf of the Ridge Riders equestrian club and told Council that the Ridge Riders are in the process of withdrawing their litigation against the City and Harrison encouraged the City to schedule and meet with the Ridge Riders to resolve their differences concerning the lease agreement for the use of the Anderson Park Horse Arena.
Brett Costley told Council that, since the State of Oregon has approved the legalization of marijuana, he encouraged Council to not waste City resources in any attempt to create any special ordinance to zone out any retail establishment.
Victoria McAdams discussed with Council a water billing issue. McAdams told Council she discovered in September that she had an unusually large water usage at the rental where she lives. The City replaced her water meter. Her high usage continued and in November McAdams was facing a shut off by the City. It was then discovered that the meter was not the problem, but that there was a leak. McAdams said she has paid a portion of her bill but still has an outstanding balance of $500. She asked Council to forgive some of the bill because she was led to believe by the City that the meter was the problem. Council later authorized the City Administrator to negotiate with McAdams to settle her outstanding balance and forgive the extra usage. Council also instructed the City Administrator to send copies of billing accounts that are behind to landlords.
Council Approves Airport Supplemental Budget- Council approved an Airport Fund Supplemental Budget which included increased revenues of over $2100. Since the adoption of the 2014-15 budget the Airport has rented two vacant hangers and the RV site. The available cash on hand was also over $1,000 more than was budgeted. Council added the additional revenue to the Airport budget for maintenance.
Council Discusses LSN Easement Agreement- City Administrator Gian Paolo Mammone informed City Council that he has some questions about an agreement prepared by Light Speed Network (LSN) to install and provide broadband/network services to the Health Clinic building. The City is the land owner of the property where the building is located. Mammone told Council he is having the City attorney review the agreement and expects to bring the issue back to Council in the near future.
Council Discusses Damage at Cemetery- Council reviewed photographs of damage to grassy areas adjacent to the road in the Vernonia Cemetery. It was suggested that Council should consider closing the cemetery gate during winter months to restrict access and limit driving in the site. Council said they did not want to restrict access, but to instead instruct the City Administrator to put up barriers at the damaged areas. Council also discussed the need for parking areas in the cemetery.
Council Enters Executive Session-Council entered into Executive Session under ORS 196.660 (2) (b) Discipline of Public Officers and Employees. When Council returned to open session they took no action and made no comments concerning the discussion in Executive Session.
Council Discusses Ridge Riders- City Administrator Gian Paolo Mammone told Council he had discussed the Ridge Riders situation with city attorney Rubin Cleaveland. According to Mammone, Cleaveland told him the Ridge Riders had filed a motion for the entire case between the two parties to be dismissed and that Cleaveland had concerns about the legality of that procedure. Cleaveland also said that the Ridge Riders have refused to provide information requested through the discovery process. Council asked that the City Administrator and the City Attorney be available to talk about the issue with the City Council at their next meeting.