WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Toledo gets Christmas decorations complaint – Utility bill collection problems raised.

Toledo City Hall

Toledo City Hall

At their last work session, the Toledo City Council received a complaint by a citizen about Christmas decorations affixed to city street lights around town. The complainant pointed to the U.S. Constitutional prohibition of governments appearing to endorse any particular religion as violating the separation of church and state. The complainant said Christmas decorations endorse Christianity by hanging decorations along public rights of way in the town.

City Manager Jay Baughman asked the council if they thought the decorations were somehow inappropriate. Mayor Billie Jo Smith said she didn’t have a problem with them since “The only decorations around town are secular and therefore should not be a problem.”

In other work sessions action City Manager Baughman told the council that the city’s utility bill collection policies need to be revised so that if a rental tenant doesn’t pay their utility bill, especially over long periods of time, it doesn’t fall back on the landlord. Baughman said city staff is going to analyze city policies on the matter and propose revisions by April.

The council also heard a report on plans to FINALLY establish a disc golf course in an area near the Toledo Swimming Pool. The council went over various details on signing up a licensed group to be in charge of it, the Central Coast Disc Golf Club – scheduling events and doing maintenance on the course. City Councilor Alma Baxter, who is involved with the group, said they’re ready to begin construction on it as soon as an agreement between them and the city is finalized.

City Attorney Michael Adams said the agreement must clearly state that as long as disc golf activities are on city property, they must not charge a fee for its use so as to avoid civil liability for any injuries any participant may suffer while engaging in the sport. And it must also be clear that the activities associated with the disc golf facility are strictly recreational. Adams also stated that a sign must be placed in a prominent location that the city is not liable for any injuries incurred by participants while playing disc golf.

Adams also emphasized that if disc golf ever ceases to be a use on the property, it’s up to the Central Coast Disc Golf Club to remove the baskets, poles and the concrete that they’re set in.

Adams agreed to return to the council January 12th with a finalized version of the disc golf agreement with the Central Coast Disc Golf Club.

City Manager Baughman reported to the council that Belinda Goody of the Toledo Chamber of Commerce and CJ Drake of Georgia Pacific met with him to discuss various strategies to enhance Toledo’s local economy and to promote local businesses. They also suggested that a bigger presence on the internet for promotional purposes should be explored.

Baughman also told the council that all the news about the state’s PERS crisis does not necessarily mean that Toledo will be harmed. Baughman said although higher city contributions to the PERS system will no doubt be forthcoming, the city will not be budgetarily disrupted because the city has a PERS stabilization fund. He said it has long been maintained that should such increases in city contributions to PERS come about, the city will be in a better position to cover the added burden than many other cities.

And Baughman finished off his report that he and Georgia Pacific are in negotiations on a renewal contract so GP can continue to buy water from the city. He said he’s also negotiating with the mill on the use of Todd Gray Park for use as a dog park. Baughman added that a review is coming on water rates to be paid by the Seal Rock Water District, which gets all their water from Toledo.

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