Newport City Council: Employee pay scales, PCH construction, Coast Guard City, new city Fire Boat?, and new Aquatic Center ready to open!
Employee pay step increases
Newport City Councilors learned Monday evening that a salary survey among cities the size of Newport in Oregon pay their public works employees more than Newport. And the survey revealed that it takes Newport public works employees more time than their compatriots in other cities to get step increases in pay.
City Manager Spencer Nebel said his recommendation to the council would include shrinking the time for step increases, approve a 2% pay raise for public works workers and finish the rest of the salary studies as they relate to other city workers. Nebel said the increased salary costs to the city will be minimal because normal employee attrition should help fill most of the gap.
Getting close to construction for new PCH
Administrators from Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital said they’re finishing up the design phase for their new $50 million hospital that they’re building on the same site as the current one. They say they’ll construct the new main building first, then tear down the old buildings to make way for parking areas. They say the new hospital should be ready for its ribbon cutting by Fall of 2019. They add that the construction activity will not diminish the range and depth of medical services of the current hospital.
Coast Guard City means guardsmen, and their failies, get free access to city recreation programs
Newport’s designation as an official Coast Guard City USA means Coast Guardsmen and women in uniform get free access to Newport’s Recreation and Aquatic Centers including their family members. The council said that the Coast Guard is a vital life-and-death service to the community and that the city should grant that expanded recreation use for Coast Guard family members. One councilor mentioned that the lower ranked guardsmen are not that well paid and their families could use with some accessible recreation opportunities. The vote was unanimous to approve the extension of free use to LOCAL Coast Guard families.
Is there a fireboat in Newport’s fire fighting future?
Newport Fire Chief Rob Murphy convinced the city council Monday night to give their blessing for the fire department to apply for a grant to buy the town a fireboat – a floating fire truck that could fight fires from the waterside of the Bayfront in areas inaccessible by land-based firefighters. Chief Murphy said there is a lot of valuable fish processing machinery and tourist facilities that stick out from shore and sit on wooden pilings, exposing their undersides to more than just wind and blowing rain. One disastrous fire, he claimed, could wipe out millions of dollars in fish processing facilities, cause huge employee layoffs, sending a financial slug to the gut of the entire community. He said Warrenton learned that lesson the hard way with their recent Pacific Seafoods fire that caused a $32 million loss and a lot of unemployed workers.
Chief Murphy added that the fireboat would protect not only the Bayfront, but also the entire Newport fishing fleet, the NOAA facilities, International Terminal and properties upriver within a thousand feet of shore. And it might help lower home and business owners fire insurance premiums as well.
Chief Murphy said the cost of a fireboat can be 75% funded by the federal government, leaving a 25% portion to be picked up by the city – about $150,000. But he quickly added, that getting the federal government to cover the full cost of the fireboat happens frequently enough that he’ll ask for the same consideration for Newport. He also indicated that the fishing fleet itself may be willing to chip in some funds.
The council gave Chief Murphy the go-ahead to apply for the federal grant along with estimates on operations and maintenance costs for the vessel – roughly $1,500/year for maintenance and about the same amount per year for fuel.
The big day draws near for the new Newport Aquatic Center!
And can you believe it? It’s nearly SPLASH-DOWN for Newport’s new Aquatic Center! Yes it’s a little past last Christmas Eve which was the initial estimated time of completion. But hey! We’ll take it this Saturday afternoon at 3pm! City Manager Spencer Nebel told the council he’s 100% sure that the ribbon cutting will occur on time, but he’s not completely sure that everyone will then be able to dive in for an inaugural swim. He says he’s 75% sure, but if the pool isn’t completely ready for its first “aquatic baptismals,” it will be ready sometime next week.
Adding up the recent storm damage
And City Manager Spencer Nebel informed the council that there’s been some substantial storm damage around town including Nye Beach and some homes and businesses in that area. Also a number of mudslides including one next to the Pacific Maritime and Heritage Center. Also very high water may have caused some damage to Big Creek Road that connects the town’s two upstream reservoirs.damage – also to the Big Creek Trail that runs to Agate Beach.
Certain levels of destruction must meet minimum criteria for FEMA to grant disaster relief. Nebel said they’re working to see if there is enough damage to trigger a grant.