Jun 072016
Newport City Council 2016

Newport City Council

Will there be a tax on retail marijuana in Newport?

The Newport City Council voted Monday night to put a measure on the November ballot to ask Newport voters whether they approve the city levying what amounts to a 3% sales tax on recreation (not medical) marijuana and marijuana infused products.  The council has kicked around a lot of ways to funnel some or all of those sales taxes (a total amount not yet clear) to Newport Police to more effectively enforce marijuana laws and toward drug education and rehab.  But there has also been interest among councilors for spending the funds on a kaleidoscope of issues and projects that could use some extra funding.

First things first.  Let’s see if the tax passes in November.

Expanding the Hatfield Marine Sciences Center

Top officials from the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) were on hand to bring the council up to date on a new Marine Studies Initiative going on at Oregon State University. With Climate Change affecting just about everything on the planet, HMSC Director Dr. Bob  Cowen laid out an ambitious plan that is being launched to fully integrate marine studies with other physical, even social sciences, as they describe the changing face of our world.  And expanding HMSC is part of the plan’s grand design.

But where all the new research labs, instructional classrooms and library facilities will be built is still a bit up in the air – no pun intended.  With a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami due anytime, OSU’s President Ed Ray, HMSC Director Bob Cowen and others have set their gaze on sites uphill from the current marine science cluster at South Beach.   The new sites could involve lands atop the ridge that juts north from Oregon Coast Community College which would be well out of the reach of any tsunami.  Dr. Cowen told the council that a decision on a site for the expansion of HMSC could come in the very near future.

Let me dump my dredge mud at the airport and I’ll let you have some of my sand!

The Port of Newport Monday night propositioned Newport City Hall:  “If you’ll take our dredge sludge, we’ll give you some of our sand.”  And the city council said, OK!  As many have learned…when the new NOAA docks were installed at South Beach it was believed that the river currents would behave themselves – that those currents would not bring more sand, mud and other organic material downstream to fill up the dock area again.  But, that’s what those currents have been doing.  So the port has to dredge that area out again and install some underwater barriers to deflect that mud and sand out into the river’s main channel so it can get washed out to sea.  At least that was one plan being tossed about at one point.

But the upshot of all this is that the port will dredge the NOAA docks area again and afterwards will need a place to dump the dredge spoils.  A area immediately north of the Newport Airport has already been receiving NOAA sand and the originally removed dredge spoils for the NOAA docks.  So when all was said and done the council and the port seemed to agree that if the port is allowed to dump more dredge spoils at the airport,  Newport Public Works Director Tim Gross can begin coveting a large portion of the NOAA sand that was dug up to make way for their new MOC-P facility.   Gross says sand has many applications in an array of public works projects.   So, it looks like the Port of and the City of Newport have a deal.

Newport Councilor Ralph Busby to hang up his council name plate.

And anyone who has been watching the Newport City Council for any length of time, it’s become at least somewhat clear that councilor Ralph Busby, who sees himself as a semi-hard nosed conservative, has been finding himself a lone wolf on a number of votes dealing with how the city spends its money.  And the wolf has been outvoted quite often.

So Mr. Busby announced Monday evening that he is not going to run for another term.  He’s a busy guy so he won’t have any trouble filling his calendar with things to do and causes to pursue!   But in a very genuine way, he will be missed.  Despite being articulate, intelligent and with a world of government experience, some councilors still had issues with his political ideology.  But they seldom disagreed with his facts and clear descriptions of priorities and strategies.  They just opted for solutions with softer edges.  We’ll let history sort out who was right.

So in addition to Councilor Busby’s seat coming open, Mayor Roumagoux and Councilors Sawyer and Swanson will be pondering their druthers about running again.

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