WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Lincoln City City Council: Parks, sewer and water rates and plastic shopping bags

Lincoln City getting a full time Parks Director


Lincoln City getting a full time Parks Director

While firming up next fiscal year’s Lincoln City annual budget, city councilors added a new position, Parks Director to the mix. They moved the budget numbers a bit to make room for it, so the overall budget estimate for next year didn’t change.

City Councilor Diana Hinton made the request saying that Lincoln City’s parks administration has actually been part of the duties of a combination of other department heads including the public works director and even the city manager. Hinton said “It’s time that the city have a parks director – we are, after all, a tourist town.”

City Councilor Dick Anderson opposed the idea saying “It’s something that would be nice to have but we’re getting the job done with parceling the responsibilities to other city officials.” But Hinton responded, “The job is too important and requires more than piece-meal part time attention from otherwise very busy people. The job requires a full time director like any other vital city service.”

The vote was 5 to 2, with Councilor Anderson and Mayor Don Williams voting no. So Lincoln City will have a full time parks director in the upcoming fiscal year.

Big sewer ponds in upper half of photo are being phased out – drying beds to replace them.

Sewer and Water Rates going up

As part of the city’s budget plan for next fiscal year, the city council raised utility rates by 6% for sewer and 4% for water. Long-time city critic Jerry Werner decried the rate increases reminding the city council that many Lincoln City residents live on fixed incomes and that the upward creep on utility costs are creating a lot of pain for them.

The city’s finance director and City Manger Richard Chandler said rates should level off for a bit but also pointed out that the city has incurred big bills from the city having to change the way that sewer plant sludge is handled and properly disposed of. But there seemed to be an interest among some of the councilors to examine water and sewer rate tiers that would put less of a burden on low volume residents and a slightly bigger burden on medium to high volume users – those who are far better financially equipped to handle higher rates for utilities.

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Commons photo

Chapter Two: Plastic Shopping Bags

At a recent city council meeting, a group of school kids urged the city council to consider a ban on plastic shopping bags in that major stretches of the Earth’s oceans are full of plastic, especially the kind that has broken down into small pieces or particles. The kids showed pictures of dead or dying sea life and asked the council to stop the use of plastic bags in Lincoln City.

At the time the council thanked the students for their concern. The students left the room no doubt thinking they’d made an impression on the council. But as it turned out, some of the council poo-poo’d the idea of a bag ban saying it would raise the costs for local businesses and that one or two of the students were using faulty information. The mayor even cited a website saying that the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said there are no swirling pools of deadly plastic bags in the ocean.

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But at Monday night’s meeting, City Councilor Kip Ward brought up the subject again. He pulled up information where NOAA indeed called for action to stop polluting the oceans with a wide variety of plastics, from bags to bottles – that it is an increasing threat to sea life and sea ecology. Mayor Williams began reading aloud Ward’s information from the website and after a sentence or two said, “And it goes on ‘blah-blah-blah’…to which Ward shot back, “It’s not blah-blah-blah – it’s important information.”

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At that juncture the council, getting a fresh look at the issue, agreed that city staff should examine the school children’s request to ban plastic bags and to report his findings to the city council for their review and possible action.

Eugene, Portland and Corvallis ban plastic bags. The Newport City Council banned the bags for a while back in 2013 until the voters got a hold of it and voted no on the ban, thereby preserving plastic bags in their city.

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