State of the City, 2014
Lincoln City Cultural Center
February 25, 2014
Chamber of Commerce Luncheon
Thank you for attending. This is a nice looking crowd. I wish to thank the Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring this forum and to the Cultural Center for allowing us to fill this fine facility. By the way, welcome to our new citizens from Roads End.
This is my fourth State of the City speech and I actually look forward to it. It is seldom that I get the opportunity to draw a crowd of this size. Unless of course it is a gathering concerning VRDs. The “Coffee’s with the Mayor” have gone over very well. One per week, with generally 2-3 people. I believe the max attendance was twelve. But, times any headcount number, even 1 times 52 weeks in a year and I am addressing more people than attended Senator Merkley’s town hall meeting last month in this same facility. And only a dozen of those folks got their question even asked.
I would like to recognize your City Councilor’s, Noreikis, Sprague, Ryan, Quandt, Eggleton and Ellingson. These gentlemen serve at your pleasure in volunteer positions. They put in numerous hours, do more reading, discussing, debating, taking criticism and making decisions that affect us all. Thank you, gentlemen. There are other volunteer committees and commissions that serve you, the citizens of Lincoln City. Planning Commission and Committees such as Art, VCC, Sustainability, Budget, TRT, Library Board and Parks. We are fortunate to have a community of involved and caring citizens.
I came across a remark that John F. Kennedy made in one of his State of the Union speeches that I believe has relevance. I have taken the liberty to modify his remarks to fit this occasion. “The City Charter makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress. It is my task to report the State of the City—to improve it, is the task of us all.” A gentle reminder that it takes involvement at all levels to make this City great.
Once again this year I plan to leave time for you to ask questions at the end, perhaps something that I moved quickly over or didn’t touch at all. So be thinking about that. Please feel comfortable in leaving early, if you must.
Your city staff works for you and are every bit a part of this community. We seldom have the opportunity to see the actual work or the level of care that these people perform on our behalf. It is something that I have grown to appreciate.
Before I get into the details of 2013, I want to acknowledge some non City partners, North Lincoln Fire & Rescue, Lincoln County School District, Devils Lake Water Improvement District, our Health District, Foundation and Samaritan Health and Oregon Coast Community College. These are all separate taxing districts that are so very much impactful to the overall health and success of our community. Your City Council and City staff work with them all and we rely and depend on each other to better serve you. The City does not operate in a vacuum. Positive relationships, collaboration and cooperation with others effects Lincoln City’s out comes.
It is no secret that our Country’s infrastructure is aging. Even though Lincoln City is not quite 50 yrs old, ours has been aging as well. Infrastructure is a constant challenge to maintain and replace. Public Works and Urban Renewal have had a huge positive impact on ours. Water is essential for any City. In 2013 our Max Day Demand was on July 5th at 2.3 million gallons, compared to an average day of 1.5 million gallons. Fortunately we have planned ahead some 25 to 30 years and have available water to meet our anticipated needs.
In the last 3 years we have invested approximately $10.2 million in water rights, pump stations, intake systems and water reservoirs. Some of the work performed by the Water Dept in 2013 was, replace 80 water services, installed 2,000 ft of 4” line on Schooner Creek Rd. plus replaced meters, relocate the water main in SE 48th that was threatened by earth movement, continued with the aggressive leak detection with our high tech equipment reducing water loss to below 20%, down from above 30%. Our target is 10%. Your City Council also purchased land in the Water Shed to assist in the protection and improved quality of the water to this municipality.
Waste Water Dept (sewer) is just as meaningful in a municipality like Lincoln City as is water. The treatment plant was fully completed in 2013. We now have virtually a new and modern facility. Many neighboring communities are behind the 8ball in this area and are paying the price. Thank you to the Citizens of Lincoln City who voted for the financing of this enhancement. They saw and supported the need early. Lincoln City is unique because of its landscape and has some 33 pump stations to move the sewage to the plant. As compared to Salem that has 7. These pump stations cost in the million dollar range and need constant attention in maintenance. We continue to be faced with occasional spills due primarily to restricted flow in our pipes.
We invested in TV equipment to locate areas of concern and are taking action to first attempt to grind out these pipes rather than replace. Often the cause is grease and fats that have been put into the system. The influx of surface water doesn’t help the situation. In 2013 the sewer main between N. 50th and S 69th was smoke tested for lateral leaks. We found some instances where rain gutters were hook up to the sewer lines that should not have been, found some missing sewer clean out caps and replaced numerous man hole covers with fewer vent holes.
Lincoln City water and sewer costs are actually below the average of Oregon Communities. We have operated these entities as separate operations. Meaning that the rates charged are what supports the operation and pays for the capital improvements. Some Cities have chosen to co-mingle funds and as a result have gotten into trouble with systems that have deteriorated or are faced with extreme rate increases to get back on track. I have found this to be an area of extreme discipline in financial integrity. Some would have us steal from one fund to avoid rate increases only to have us pay higher rates later.
In the last 3 years we have invested approximately $1 million in street overlays and sidewalks. This past year we have:
* Painted lines on 8.5 miles of streets
* Painted numerous stop bars, crosswalks and parking lot stripes
* 36 miles of gravel road was graded
* 130 miles of road side was mowed
* 3.3 miles of ditches were cleaned
* Anyone notice the painted curbs along Hwy 101?
* Installed reflectors along West Devils lake Rd.
* Even with the recent tragic accident that happened, let’s give some accolades to the pedestrian activated blinking light crosswalk at N33 and look for more of them.
Our new Chief of Police, Chief Kilian has been with us one year. He is the big guy, in uniform, packing a fire arm and out and about. He and his wife live in Lincoln City and are very much a part of this community. I encourage you to introduce yourself when you see him. He has attended several public coffees with the Mayor as a way to interact with citizens.
We have also added a part time Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. We know it is only a matter of time before “the big one” occurs, that being an earthquake or tsunami. It is our responsibility to be prepared and to have a plan that includes not only our citizens but our guests.
Finance is always a topic of concern and should be. Compared to other cities in Oregon, we are way above the average as to financial strength and stability. Lincoln City has a detailed and transparent budgeting format. Citizens are encouraged to participate as members of the City Budget committee. There are at least two vacant seats at this time. It’s an educational opportunity for some one. The City continues to have successful audits. Audits provide an overall review of our financials with deep dives into depts. or functions on a rotating basis. The city has continued to audit the lodging industry regarding the Transient Room Tax and their compliance with reporting standards and documentation.
The city refinanced the 2005 Sewer Bonds, saving the citizens $1,224,554 in interest with the Bond rate going from 4.55% to 2.44%. Our overall Bond debt has dropped by approximately 10 million from 2011, 36 million to 26 million. The 2008 Library Bonds were paid off, the 1999 Open Space Bonds were paid off, the inter-fund loan for library and Community Center roof was paid off, the 2008 water tank bond and the 1997 water treatment plan expansion were all paid off.
Surplus real estate was sold, that being the old My Sisters Place.
Revenue to the City will increase this coming fiscal year, 2014-15. This new additional revenue is a result of the annexation of Roads End and the revenue being returned to taxing districts from the Urban Renewal Agency. The Roads End residents are still not at the full tax rate because through the annexation process, the property tax increase was phased in over 3 years by the decision of City Council.
The City Council also utilized the general fund and other designated funds to purchase 363 acres of a 17 year old development called The Villages of the Cascades. With this purchase the citizens finally realized the saving of their #1 Open Space target called The Knoll, approximately 40 acres that will remain as Open Space to be enjoyed by all. This purchase also provides land available for “work force” housing. This is housing that is priced at a level where our teachers, police and fire people, our nurses and first responders can afford to buy their homes and live IN the community in which they work. But more importantly, this expenditure of 2.5 million for the purchase of the Villages puts the City in the position to facilitate the construction of homes. The City does not intend to be in the role of the builder of homes. For the past 17 years more than one developer has attempted to take on this massive project, only to fail. They suffered three primary obstacles:
1.) Their land costs were much too high.
2.) Water/sewer infrastructure enhancements were too costly.
3.) The rate of sales was too slow to allow for the payback of loans obtained by the developer for this development. So you ask, why the city?
To begin with, the city purchased the property at a very low cost. Not just raw dirt but dirt that has at least some improvements in place. An approved platt, some streets, curbs, sidewalks, utilities, sewer and water pipes are in the ground. With the utilization of urban renewal funds, enhancements to the sewer and water pumps can be done, now, at a better financing rate and terms than the private developer can obtain. These enhancements provide infrastructure to more than the Villages. Palisades and the entire North End is at a construction stand still without those enhancements.
Let’s also not forget that every home that will be built adds to the taxable assessed value and pays system development charges. As the developer/builder buys the land from the city, payback for the original purchase occurs along with the payback for the sewer/water enhancements. Our local schools benefit from the excise tax charged on each home built. Jobs are created, living wages paid, profits are made and population growth occurs.
This is what economic development is all about. I am confident that our local contractors, subs and suppliers of materials will be thanking this City Council as they begin building houses and cashing pay checks.
I would like to provide some highlights from the departments that I have in previous years referred to as having a Quality of Life impact to us, as citizens.
Foot traffic remains steady about 9,500 visits per month. Circulation also remains steady but there has been a surprise increase in circulation from patrons outside the city limits. The public computers continue to have increasing use as do the meetings rooms. Library volunteers provide a tremendous resource to this facility. Their volunteer hours account for the equivalent of at least 3 full time staff members: thank you volunteers!
In 2013 there were 237 children’s programs held, presenting to over 6,100 – plus 78 special programs for adults with over 3,000 participating.
There is no question that our public library is well used and appreciated by our citizens. In Lincoln City there is no indication that this type of institution is going the way of the dinosaurs any time soon.
The Planning Department remains busy even with what might appear to be slow development.
* 5 site plan reviews
* 24 permanent signs, 10 temporary signs
* Initiated correction of 11 signs violations
* 2 lot line adjustment and two partitions
* 9 tree removal applications
* 2 geologic hazard reports
* 1 natural resource overlay zone development application
* 55 building permit applications for zone compliance
* 25 home occupation agreements
* 170 building permits
* 186 mechanical permits
* 17 demolition permits
* And managed the Open Space demonstration of the tree thinning project
* Refurbished NE 22nd-Kirtsis Ball Field Building
* Upgraded NW 15th Restroom Building-beach access
* Upgraded benches at Mo’s Plaza from wood to trex (recycled plastic)
* Rebuild and retrofitted the swing sets and tire swings at Regatta Park and other children’s play areas.
* Maintaining 34 facilities and 356 acres of trails and open space
Community Center/Recreation Center
* 91,000 people used this facility, 68% were members
* Revenue increased by 17%
* This site gets used for numerous events and functions, such as;
* The Senior Center and its numerous activities
* Annual Operation Christmas Spirit Community Dinner
* The Arthritis Road Show
* “Radio Disney” Beach Party
* Senior Services Connection event
* Meals on Wheels
* AARP tax aide and driver safety classes
* NW Medical Team Dental Van
* And who doesn’t know of the Dog Swim, just after Labor Day? My dog Mr. Lincoln thoroughly enjoys this event.
And it is not just for adults or seniors. In 2013, 617 children learned to swim, utilizing group, private and school programs.
* 138 children enrolled in After School Programs
* 25 in Winter/Spring Break Day Camps
* 72 in the Summer Day Camp
* Youth Sports Programs, ages 4-12 accommodated 443 kids
* Swim Team Competitions
The Center also coordinated: A Dodge Ball League, a variety of running/jogging/walking races, the half marathon with over 300 participants with over 75% from outside the County along with the Sprint Triathlon that also has a similarly high % of participation from outside the County.
The facility itself received a new boiler and all its numerous components were installed. Another self operating lift was installed making one lift per pool and the water temperature has been stabilized.
Marketing efforts and use of Social Media has continued to show benefits to increasing awareness and use of this fine facility.
Visitor and Convention Bureau
This organization continues to keep Lincoln City on the minds of all those who are thinking about visiting the Oregon Coast. Website enhancements, including new pictures, calendars and mobile versions of everything. Website traffic has increased 20% over last year. We have perfected our performance within search engines, which means making sure Lincoln City shows up at the top of the list of any searches.
Face Book activity has increased 36% with the reach now over 1 million. Newsletters are easier to read and have wider distribution, videos and commercials are being produced and shown on TV and You Tube. Storm Watching, Spanish and English language material has been produced for the target markets of Willamette Valley and Idaho. Joint efforts with Oregon Tourism in marketing to China has occurred where there has been a measureable increase in visitors to Oregon.
Urban Renewal has advanced projects that improve the quality of life and economic vitality of Lincoln City. The following projects have either been completed or approved and in the process of completion.
The sewer line extension in Cutler City area that opens up more land to commercial development along hwy 101.
Traffic counters at the North and South end of town so that we can have a better handle on how many cars/people are coming through town and staying in town.
The undergrounding of utility wires and a modern and cleaner looking traffic signal at the D-wayside. Improving the first view of the ocean for our guests coming from the North.
The new parking lot on the South end of the Nelscott Business District to enhance business opportunities. Improvements to the Bus Shelters for our citizens who utilize public transportation. Another electric charging station, making 3 in the City, which we did not have to pay for. The Heritage Signs that you have perhaps seen popping up around town.
And finally, the new and expanded Loan and Grant Funds. Promoting Economic Development, from advancing education, adding employees to an expanding business, improving the exterior of the building, improving the energy efficiency of an existing building. Check in with your Urban Renewal Agency.
You might recall that last year I challenged business to take some initiative and make a difference that would positively impact their own bottom line. I harped on physical appearances and first impressions.
Well as I drive around this community I keep notes regarding changes that I see and I am sure our guests, tourists, and future residents also observe. A sampling:
* Chamber Building, new shingle siding, what a positive impact
* The recent Safeway Store remodel
* The Nazarene Church added a child care facility
* The Old Herb Store in Wecoma, was purchased, painted, remodeled and utilized for expanding business by Meredith Hospitality.
* Dutch Brother’s Coffee just can’t seem to get it together, but the retaining walls are correct, now
* The Historic Anchor Inn’s new front entry Plaza
* Sambo’s, expanded their gift shop
* The new paint along Hwy 101 and the cross walks through the city
& Puerta Vallarta, was totally rebuilt after its devastating fire and is thriving
* Mazatlan expanded its parking lot and added curbing
* Super Oscars’, exterior painting, painted its sign and added a nice mural
* uality Inn, new exterior paint and trim
* All American Putt & Bat, exterior paint and interior upgrades adding an 18th hole
* Barnacle Bills, exterior paint, trim and signs
* Day’s Catch, relocated to a more convenient location and the building was newly sided and painted
* D-Sands Motel, a continuation of upgrades
What about new businesses and businesses with new owners to the City? These are owners risking their own assets.
* Dr. Bob’s Medical Clinic – Wecoma
* Paul Davis Emergency service- N. End
* Light House Donuts- N. End
* Beach Bum Thrift- Taft
* Flavor of India- Taft
* Lincoln City Antiques & Music- Ocean Lake
* Coral Reef- at SE 19th
* The Signal, music and technology- at SE 19th
* Leppe Appliances- at SE 19th
* Game Over –Wecoma
* Mini Pet Mark – Ocean Lake
* Grandma’s Kitchen- D River
* Eagle Home Mortgage – Wecoma
* A brand new, 2story, shingle sided Office Building on NE 22, by Jon Oksenholt
* Econo Lodge Motel came back “on line” after a year of repairs.
Now this is not an official list. I know I left businesses off, not intentionally. But I do this so that when some one wants to tell me how bad things are in Lincoln City I have a rebuttal. 2013 was a break through year for the economy in Lincoln City and these owners are making a difference. Thank you to all our Lincoln City businesses for all they bring and add to our community.
So, What about 2014?
Vacation Rental Dwellings remain on the work list and will be put to bed in 2014. We will find “The Balance” for a livable community.
Finally we will see the Construction on Hwy 101, as disruptive as it will be, we need the improvements.
American Disability Act; assessments of the City’s buildings and right of ways have been done. A data base with these findings has been created. We are currently developing the transition plans using the assessment data to identify and prioritize corrective action to improve compliance. We should credit Jim Hoover for being persistent with this issue.
And the necessary water/sewer improvements that I mentioned earlier to the North End of town that will make our infrastructure capable of handling increased development.
Advancing the sewer around the lake and/or an aggressive septic system inspection program
2015 is Lincoln City’s 50th Birthday year. I would hope that a group comes forward to organize appropriate birthday celebrations.
Since this is my last State of the City, let me share with you some of my memories from earlier years:
* The passing of Councilor Ed Kuntz
* Shooting of Officer Dodds
* Schooner Cr Road sliding and the threat to the City’s only water main
* The Tsunami
* Having to tell the Cultural Center board to get their act together
* Remodeling the library
* Finding a way to get a different ODOT to the table to fix Hwy 101
* Getting the high tech equipment to find water leaks
* VRD Consensus Group
* Purchase of the Villages and carving out The Knoll as Open Space
* Putting in an alternate water line on Drift Creek Rd to safe guard the city
* Completion of the Waste Water Treatment Plant with all its enhancements
* Creation of the Event funds and moving the fireworks expense to the VCB
* Trimming the Tree Ordinance
* Annexation of Roads End
* Enhanced City Website and having meetings streamed on the internet.
* Recognition that ADA compliance is a must and our advancing progress toward compliance
I have enjoyed my term as your Mayor and appreciate the privilege of serving you. I am just as pleased that you have had the opportunity to get to know my wife, Sue. We are definitely a partnership that works well together.
Besides replacing the Mayor, each of our 3 Wards has a position up for election this year. Perhaps this is the year we could see some diversity on the Council? How about some women and younger citizens stepping to the plate? The main reason for serving in one of these positions is to do your best for our community. There will always be differences in opinions as to how to accomplish each task or whether the task is prioritized correctly. But those critical of the people volunteering should also spend time thanking them for the hours they spend in trying to get it right. The manner and frequency in which we criticize our elected officials has a way of deterring others from stepping forward.
Lincoln City can not afford to be stagnant, we must grow or die!
Lincoln City is a wonderful community. Fortunately, people step up to the challenge time after time. So, we have until early August to recruit candidates.