When I arrived in Newport in 2004, the focus of the City Council was on fishing, tourism and a weak/ineffectual effort to attract job building businesses.
Granted, multiple councils and city management past kicked the can down the road with respect to infrastructure development and maintenance. This approach not surprisingly resulted in decades of deferred maintenance and inappropriate infrastructure development. Some of this is understandable in a community where every dollar counts to a preponderance of citizens on low or fixed incomes. One needs to be liked but, unfortunately not effective, to be reelected. That is unfortunate for those bearing the lions share of the financial burden now evident.
The go-go years of mid-1990s to 2008 are gone. So too is the growth that allowed Newport’s leadership to ignore the realities surrounding these crucial issues of balancing maintenance and development fees with those of sustained growth.
No city can make up six or seven decades of deferred maintenance by burdening one decade of people with the costs and still expect to grow and sustain itself. Today, before the first nail is driven to build a new home, the builder has spent $22,000 in SDC’s. These fees do not include architectural fees, geophysical analysis and engineering required for more properties thanks to revised DOGAMI maps for the Oregon Coast or grading or felling of trees etc. You get the picture.
The owners of the Coffee House on the Bay Front improved their ability to serve more customers (aka tourists) better. Thereby enhancing the tourist experience to our fare/fair (?) city. One does not get wealthy running a coffee shop. Where is the $9000 to come from for the city? Obviously, one of their options is to close. What does that do for us? Nothing!
The current city manager deployed the same approaches in Ketchikan, Alaska and was asked to find another job. The Mayor and City Council at the time did not due their due diligence. The citizens review task force of which I was a member rated the current manager 5 of 5 candidates. Our city’s Development Director (formerly Director of Planning) down from Tillamook while following the city managers directions obviously is taxed with revenue development rather than planning and city development.
Some members of the city council recognize this conundrum. Indeed they bungled an attempt to change management recently. So, where does that leave the rest of us? Do we just continue to shed more wool, so the farmer won’t slaughter us? Or do we demand a more balanced, well thought out plan that balance infrastructure improvement with population growth? Obviously talking to city hall does not work.
Those who go along to get along eventually are ruled by those who just want to rule (see international history). I will not go along to get along and hope that you who read this don’t either. Newport is a potentially big winner in the future if the balance issue can be properly designed.
(Editor’s note: The preceding does not necessarily reflect the views of NewsLincolnCounty.com. They belong strictly to the writer.)