The Newport City Council had a huge mound of issues on their plates Monday afternoon and evening. Early in the day the council got a sobering assessment of the city’s budget going into the next fiscal year which begins July 1st. The Covid-19 bombshell has made the future look a bit tentative but with adjusting employee work schedules (partial hour cutbacks among others) City Manager Spencer Nebel seemed comfortable with very tentative budget projections. In short, the city’s not broke.
The city council agreed on a property tax rate for July 1st going forward – about $5.60/thousand dollars of assessed real estate values.
The recent eruption of problems at the city’s drinking water plant has been rather unsettling. For reasons not yet clearly understood, the city’s water plant has a big problem providing adequate supplies of fresh drinking water as well as water for the fish processing plants. The problem is that the water filtration system is on the fritz due to causes not yet completely understood. Public Works Director Tim Gross says the city’s getting really squeezed since they’re in the middle of a big fish processing season and it’s forced the city to turn to Toledo and Seal Rock water systems to fill the gaps. The last word is that there will be enough water, but just barely. The city’s water consulting firm is also pitching in trying to fix things. Gross and others seem confident that they’ll get to the bottom of what’s going on and then make repairs or change processing protocols to get the water plant back up to normal.
The council also tackled the problem of how Newport can ensure that when visitors move out of their hotel rooms and return home, that there isn’t a long ‘wait-time” for the next family to occupy the room(s). It’s all about being afraid of any lingering threat of a Covid-19 exposure should the previous customers be carrying the virus and not being aware of it. A temporary solution was “sort of” proposed and seemingly approved by the city council – instead of creating a 24 hour gap before hotel/motel housekeepers could prepare the room(s) for the new guests that the gap be limited to three hours. It gave some councilors a bit of heartburn, but a 4 to 3 vote in favor of the three hour time gap before a room could be properly prepared for the next family was adopted. But any 4 to 3 vote in favor of anything means more investigating is definitely in the cards. Fact: Long waiting times between room occupancies are not popular. In fact they’re not at all common. The 24 hour gap seems to be unique to Lincoln County, but again, fairly rare. Obviously “To be continued.”