The Newport City Council really put in some hours this week trying to successfully wade through some high profile issues.
Still trying to tame the VRD situation-
First off, councilors were briefed by city Planning Director Derrick Tokos who shared the progress that’s being made to meet a July 1st deadline for getting on the city’s list for those wanting to hang on to their Vacation Rental Dwellings (VRD’s) – especially in what are called “overlay zones” which are near tourist-related businesses and the beach and which are forecasted to become more “VRD friendly.” Those VRD’s not within an “overlay zone” are expected to be phased out, but the timelines vary wildly. But the bottom line is that new VRD’s (however many there may be) will eventually (and it’ll take some time) be concentrated in areas more fitting for tourists and kept away from “normal,” well defined neighborhoods. This is a micro-slow process that will take years to smooth itself out. But the city seems committed to make the process less problematic than where the city was headed during the last few years.
City Manager Spencer Nebel told the council that these initial efforts at solving Newport’s VRD headaches will be closely monitored and after one full year closely analyzed to see what’s working and what’s not working and then making whatever adjustments in VRD rules and regulations make sense.
Newport asked to “do more” to help properly fund the state’s retirement system.
It’s not news that Oregon state-wide is bogged down with financial obligations to former local and state government workers who are now retired – and those who are retiring or will retire soon. Trouble is, there’s not enough money in the long run to keep the state’s retirement fund healthy.
An Oregon Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) expert gave the council a not so sunny plan on how to solve the problem. It was a very sophisticated pitch with a language all its own but the bottom line seemed to be that local and state government employees are going to have to make up some or all of the shortfall in the PERS bank funds.
In short, they’re going to have to settle for less than the rosy deal state workers received up until about 10 years ago. It means slightly higher payroll taxes on today’s state and local government workers to make things balance between new retirees and old retirees. The slightly increased payroll deductions on current workers will be felt – but, the expert promised, it won’t be catastrophic. The expert pointed out that former state workers who retired back in the early 2000’s, who got a big retirement boost, will soon be off into the “great beyond” at a higher rate with every passing year.
As those older and higher paid retirees “expire,” it will take some of the strain off the current system which by then will begin to pay newer retirees at a slightly lower monthly amount.
Helping to somewhat improve the situation will be Oregon’s rising population which will cause a growing government workforce to help balance the state’s retirement books from then on.
At least that’s what seems to be the plan. It’s currently being analyzed by the state legislature. And we’re getting real close to the end of the current legislative session…so they better step on it…
Now, off to something a little less complicated…
The city council this week was approached by some good folks who want to lend a helping hand to Newport’s local homeless. They, and some other city folks say the growing ranks of the homeless are finding it harder and harder to find bathrooms and so they are using the great outdoors as their communal toilet. Non-homeless people are, understandably complaining that something has to be done to ensure everyone – even those without a roof over their head – have access to a safe place to do what everyone does more than once a day.
So they asked the city council to do something about it. And the council did just that. They decided to team up with the Lincoln County Commission and it looks like they’re going to split the cost of two large portable bathrooms, one of which will accommodate anyone in a wheel-chair. At least that seems to be the plan at the moment.