WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Newport City Council – Full Plate – Housing to a New Dam

Newport City Council
Monday evening
Courtesy photo

From the top…the Newport City Council passed their new fiscal year budget levying a property tax rate of $5.59/thousand of assessed valuation. Same rate as the current year. About $700 a year for a home assessed at $125,000, $1,120 a year for a home assessed at $200,000 – $1,677 for a home assessed at $300,000.

That’s just Newport’s line in your tax bill. If you live within a county-wide district like the school district, it’ll be more. If you live in road district, it’ll be more. Parks and Recreation District, or a Port district, it’ll be more.

And speaking of taxes, the city council seemed interested in keeping a long running tax line on the ballot this November – money to go toward the construction of a highly earthquake-resistant water reservoir dam that just about everyone wants built at the headwaters of Big Creek, on the northeast corner of Newport. City Councilors learned that there’s a levy that’s been on tax rolls for a long time dealing with city utilities which is expiring. City voters may be asked by the City Council to put a new tax on the ballot to take its place to help Newport fund the proposed new dam to replace two old ones on Big Creek that won’t withstand the shaking of a 9 Richter Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake.

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As for the new dam, city officials say it will cost a lot more than Newport taxpayers can afford. So officials are already knocking on the doors of the state legislature for some help. Newport’s water system serves Newport and areas just outside it’s city limits.

City Public Works Director Tim Gross told the council that it’s still not clear whether a cement or a fortified earthen dam would be the best design. He says his department and hired consultants are crunching the numbers and safety elements to eventually determine a design that will the job.

City Councilors urged Newport area residents to do some dining out and general shopping for gifts in the Nye Beach area because the stores down there are having a rough summer, and there’s no sign of a let up. City Public Works Director Tim Gross says they’ve got the parking lot area on the turn-around pretty well torn up. Gross and his workers are replacing a storm water outfall that drains a big part of the western side of town, eventually emptying out onto the beach. Gross told the council that he knows the businesses are suffering but he and his crews can only work on such a project during the summer when it doesn’t rain so much. He said they’ll do their best to get the new facility in the ground and humming by the end of the summer.

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The Council decided to continue to be in concert with Lincoln City and Lincoln County Commissioners in coordinating the construction of affordable housing. Portland affordable housing advocacy group Proud Ground is trying to prepare a number of affordable housing applicants. But Newport wants Proud Ground to get on the stick and get some applicants in homes which isn’t as easy as it sounds – even with all the demand for lower cost housing. Many low income families have to clean up their credit, show good job stability and prove they can pay even a low cost mortgage. But Newport apparently wants to see some quick results – get families into homes – and within six months.

Meanwhile, Lincoln City City Councilors want to give Proud Ground 12 months to show results, taking into account the “prepping” of applicant families. No word yet on what kind of time line the county commissioners are on. The fact that they’re not all tied together on a time line doesn’t threaten the program but it might slow it down in terms of coordination. We’ll just have to see how it turns out.

Many cities and counties around the country are opting for three and four story modular town homes or apartments that cost a fraction, per unit, of what conventionally built homes usually run. As usual, to be continued.

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And the Newport Fire Department got the green light from the City Council to take steps to get the city a firefighting tug-boat type water craft. An earlier attempt failed due to some complicated application issues.

Chief Rob Murphy told the council Monday night that the goal is to get a big federal grant so the city can buy a bayfront fire boat and have it “out on the fire beat” within a year or two. Most of the money would come from federal and state sources. The city says it’ll launch a community donation drive to help the city come up with it’s portion of the purchase. Total price: Just under a million dollars. The city’s share is a quarter of that. So fundraising will be an issue as the firemen’s donation hats are passed around the community. They’ll hit up businesses, including seafood processing companies and tourist related buildings that are on the wet side of Bay Boulevard. Chief Murphy says he’d like to see the new sea-going fire boat plying the waters of Yaquina Bay within a couple of years.

The council made it clear it’s looking forward to having the new fire tug protecting Newport’s waterfronts, but they also don’t want it to be a drag on the city’s budget.

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