Water, Sewer, Storm Drain Rates Going Up
Newport City Councilors Monday evening scheduled a big public hearing to get citizen opinion on proposed rate hikes for water, sewer and storm water services for homes and businesses within the Newport City limits. Those rates are forecasted to rise through 2022
As has been long pointed out, Newport’s water, sewer and storm drain systems are very old and breaks are fairly common. Proposed rate hikes in all three categories will be discussed at an open public hearing before the City Council on October 15th.
There are considerations for rate reductions for low income individuals and families. Eligibility would depend on individual or family income. The review process might be farmed out to a non-profit organization that already examines such rate changes in other Oregon towns including Toledo.
Proposed rate hikes could be implemented over a period of three years or five years. Rates would be raised by a small amount for residential customers but a fairly large amount for major commercial businesses like supermarkets and big discount stores like Walmart. Again, the big public hearing on all this is set for 6pm, October 15th and Newport City Hall.
Citizens urge Council to adopt policies to help reverse Climate Change
Two local residents urged the City Council to begin bringing Newport into alignment with other cities and states that are taking substantive steps to reverse the effects of climate change. Bill Kucha and Martin Desmond, members of two local organizations in favor of reducing Newport’s carbon footprint, said the Earth is heating quickly with all kinds of repercussions for our climate and every living thing that relies on it. Climate change, in the meantime, poses a threat to tourism and the fishing industry. Kucha and Desmond said they would like the council to support an aggressive program to halt the emission of green house gases in Newport.
The council, minus two members, suggested that any program to address Climate Change should be reviewed by the city’s recently created Greater Newport Vision 2040 Committee. There was some debate whether that was the best approach since the 2040 Committee is tackling a lot of issues – not just the effects of Climate Change. Kucha and Desmond says many Oregon cities have citizen committees aimed at fighting Climate Change. But the Council seemed more interested in first getting the 2040 Committee’s take on the issue. It was also noted by Councilor David Allen that the council also passed a motion, “to support the creation of a public/private Climate Change Partnership in Lincoln County to meet and discuss upcoming carbon reduction strategies and legislation that will be before the 2019 Oregon state legislative session, and direct City Administration to participate on the work of the partnership as described in the Vision 2040 statement.”
Slowing Things Down on Highway 101 at SW 62nd
Several citizens spoke up about what they called dangerous driving conditions on Highway 101 – namely the number of motorists who are speeding in that area south of South Beach. The citizens urged the Council, and will urge the Lincoln County Commission, to convince ODOT to conduct a speed survey along that stretch of 101. The council voted to do just that.
Panhandling – it’s still with us, often posing safety hazards
And finally the City Council took up the issue of transients panhandling along major city streets – especially Highway 101. Police Chief Jason Malloy said it isn’t illegal to panhandle on a sidewalk. But it is illegal to panhandle, step off the sidewalk and into the street to get a hand-out from drivers and passengers in cars – like those stopped at stop lights or stop signs. Chief Malloy says his department, like most others, realize that panhandling is perfectly legal – but you can’t do it in the street. A donor must pull off the road and into a parking lot or a side street, and offer what money or property might be useful to the panhandler. Chief Malloy says it’s mostly just educating the panhandlers and the motoring public that if there is to be any exchange of money or other items, it must be on a side street or parking lot. Otherwise you’re breaking the law.