Newport City Councilors worked hours on end Monday afternoon and evening trying to tackle projects big and small. They shuffled out of the council chambers well past 10pm. But they got a lot done.
Reversing Global Climate Change
Councilors were pitched again by Oregon 350 Central Coast for a small amount of money to launch a locally-grounded advocacy group that is pushing for a greater awareness of the deadly slide of the coast and elsewhere, into global warming.
Group leader Bill Kucha reminded the council that the city’s money would be teamed up with funds from other areas of Oregon as the world’s people embraces a strategy to stop a possible extended period of weather not seen on the earth for millions of years – rising seas and widespread devastation instead of the Earth we’ve known.
The council eventually pledged to award 350 Central Coast $10,000 to begin their local campaign that will link up with other campaigns around Oregon, the country and the World as a deadly heat-wave begins to do what some fear is the “cooking of the planet,” leaving the human race and much of the planet’s vegetation and animal life that depends on it, to an unimaginable fate. Common talk among scientists is that we’ve got maybe 15 years to turn things around. Otherwise the future is one big heat-seeking question mark.
The city council approved their Newport City budget for next fiscal year with all the appropriate numbers that will take to the streets on July first. Total budget for the city of Newport weighed in at $90.55 million dollars, subject to a continued decent coast economy.
The council stuck by its guns on eliminating (as much as possible) plastic shopping bags and a few other forms of it, from grocery stores. The trend is nationwide. The Oregon Legislature passed a similar bill which will stop the use of plastic shopping bags for a big part of the shopping public. When the new state law kicks in on January 1st, communities like Newport will have to comply with the new bag-ban and comply with the state law. The long term goal is to eradicate plastic shopping bags forever. However there’s been some talk about a public rebellion coupled with an effort to derail the bag-ban before the new legislative law is enacted.
Budget, Budget…who’s got the Budget?
The city council learned that although tax revenues have risen very substantially over the past year, the city’s buildings, roads, sewer and water systems, among others, have been neglected for a long, long time. City Manager Spencer Nebel told the council that with the rising cost of thousands of state workers getting ready to retire, the state’s cost to fork out all those monthly retirement checks to awaiting retirees are going to clobber state and local budgets over the next five to ten years. City Councilors were told that with a boxed-in and limited tax code the state will have a big problem on its hands in the near future. There were murmurs that a long-dreaded sales tax may be looming on the horizon. City Manager Spencer Nebel more than hinted that it’s going to take some very smart budgeting for the city to be able to meet the infrastructure needs – some of which have been long-neglected – to make sure there’s enough water, sewer capacity and storm water capacity to keep Newport liveable.
Vacation Rental Dwellings – How many is too many?
Talk then turned toward a city resource that has been a revenue plumb for a very long time – Vacation Rentals. Without all the construction controls they’d like to have, city staff says there are a lot of vacation rentals that have popped up all over during the past ten to twenty years. And many permanent Newport residents are complaining about loud late night parties – taking all the parking on the street – leaving small mountains of trash on the street while trash day is several days away – etc, etc, etc.
City Supervisors said better law enforcement should emerge fairly soon because new rules have been created to curb these and other vacation rental transgressions against the valued neighborhood peace and quiet. A soon-to-be-launched “Three Strikes and Your Out” program will soon be debuted to get the attention of out-of-towners who descend on the city, have a ball, leave piles of trash then bid it all good-bye while viewing it in their rear-view mirror as they head back for Portland or Eugene. The new enforcement program will be launched July 1st.
Lowering the boom on a particular now former VRD-provider on the Bayfront
Newport City Councilors learned that City Hall got wind of a particular vacation rental operation on the Bayfront which had allegedly been operating three illegal vacation rental units for over a decade. The city launched an investigation and wound up seeking a $50,000 fine against The Rogue Ales Public House Restaurant. Word has it that Rogue Ales didn’t know that what they were doing was unauthorized without a license. A Newport city councilor announced that when Rogue Ales was notified that such use was unauthorized without a license they shut the rental area down. One city councilor revealed that they’re still negotiating a resolution to the issue.