WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

 

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Coast Tree

Sema Roofing

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“Trashing” Hunger in Lincoln County


“Trashing Hunger”

During the week of September 19-23, Thompson’s Sanitary Service, Dahl Disposal and North Lincoln Sanitary will be picking up food donations from the curb, benefiting Food Share of Lincoln Co. On your regular pick-up day, simply put out non-perishable food items next to your service cart and they will deliver it to Food Share.

Newport City Councilors give themselves breathing room on Business License overhaul.

Newport City Hall

Re-edited Tuesday, 8:46am

Saying that there is just too much work to do to make a proposed Newport Business License ordinance comply with proper intent, not to mention compliance with state law, the Newport City Council said they’ll give the Business License Task Force until January to work with city staff, local property management firms, and two city councilors to produce a possible solution.

City Attorney Christy Monson told the city council that the city’s current business license law is badly flawed and that it might be better if they started over from scratch. City staff had demanded three local property management firms pay thousands of dollars for their business licenses as opposed to the standard $75/year plus additional fees for each rental property they own themselves and property they manage for others for a fee.

Although Dolphin, Mishey and Yaquina Bay Properties paid $75 each for their business licenses earlier in the year, they had refused to pay an extra tax based on the total number of units they managed. While this face off was going on, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that no city or county can levy what amounts to an income tax…an income tax derived from the concept that the more units a real estate firm manages, the more money they make and therefore should pay more for a business license. Dolphin, Mishey and Yaquina Bay protested the added tax.

After meeting with the firms and their attorney Dennis Bartoldous, City Manager Jim Voetberg said he had withdrawn earlier demands for payment of the original billing, but then offered to let the properties pay just the extra $8/year per unit on property their company’s own rather than on all units they manage. Whether even that reduced amount would conform to the court of appeals seeming prohibition against “income taxing” remains to be seen.

The issue is expected to continue swirling as the council, city staff and the firms continue to arm wrestle as the city’s new business license ordinance is ultimately crafted. City Attorney Christy Monson told the council that any city ordinance should be clear in its intent, function and enforcement and that’s hopefully what the council is offered this January when a final draft of a city business license ordinance is presented to the council for review and possible adoption.

Newport City Councilors push for better council communications with city attorney

Although they expressed themselves very politely during Monday’s workshop meeting, a number of Newport City Councilors made it clear that they are not happy with their level of access to, or communications with contract City Attorney Christy Monson. Monson, part of a Eugene law firm, found herself in the awkward position of trying to likewize politely referee the debate between councilors David Allen, Dean Sawyer, Dick Beemer, Sandra Roumagoux on one side, and Mayor Mark McConnell and Lon Brusselback on the other. Brussleback said he was satisfied with the situation adding “I help make policy; it’s not my job to be involved with the day to day business of the city.” McConnell has also supported the current communications arrangement which is designed to keep the city’s billable hours with the city attorney to a minimum while the council sticks to making policy rather than being active in daily city operations.

However, councilors Allen, Sawyer, Beemer and Roumagoux all said, in effect, they feel left in the dark when certain legal recommendations are offered or decisions are made, with Monson’s assent, by City Manager Jim Voetberg, and the council isn’t informed. One example was Voetberg recently reversing the council’s decision to award a police car maintenance contract to a local tire and repair shop. Councilor Beemer said he took his own car to be worked on at the garage in question and told the owner, “Hey, glad you got the contract.” Beemer said “Imagine my embarrassment when he said, ‘the contract was pulled. We didn’t get it.'” Voetberg chimed in saying that the contract was pulled because another garage that filed a competing bid claimed prejudice in the way their bid was evaluated, “so we pulled it,” Voetberg said.

City Councilor David Allen strongly suggested that the council should have at least been sent an email, notifying them of the reversal. City Attorney Christy Monson disagreed. “That decision is rightly left to the discretion of the city manager. I can’t order him to tell you. That’s an issue of judgement that traditionally lies with city staff.” Allen then suggested that when she is forwarding an opinion or critical observation on a substantive issue, to tell Voetberg to forward the information to city councilors. Monson replied that she prefers to stick with her firm’s policies on attorney-city communications, leaving it up to the chief of staff, in this case, Jim Voetberg to make that call. She said “it’s never a good idea to have sensitive legal emails ‘floating around out there’ hoping they don’t fall into the wrong hands or that a councilor inadvertently talks about it. Allen replied that nothing in connection with the police car maintenance award or reversal was confidential.

Voetberg offered an olive branch by re-characterizing the issue as within the discretion of his office in that such maintenance contracts are routinely authorized by staff without council involvement, much like buying supplies or contracting for important services. He said that next time he will pre-approve the apparent lowest bid, wait until after the legally required seven day appeal period has passed, and if no appeal is filed, then he will forward the contract to the council for their concurrence.

Allen made it plain that he’s not asking for the council to be informed of every conversation between Monson and Voetberg, but that communications that the council has a duty to know about in order to make proper decisions, must be improved. Allen said later Monday night during the council’s regular meeting that when Monson was hired “provisionally,” the council agreed that Mayor McConnell and City Manager Voetberg should be the primary contacts for the city attorney. Allen said the somewhat restricted arrangement was to help keep the councilors off the phone with the city attorney so they didn’t run up the city’s legal bill. However, in light of what Allen called several communications problems, and the fact that Monson is no longer “provisional,” Allen said it may be time to re-examine the rules about council’s access to her. Mayor McConnell replied that the issue will be placed on the city council’s next meeting agenda.

Cutting costs and upping service levels for fire departments in Lincoln County

Newport Fire Dept.

A number of Lincoln County fire departments chiefs have been talking a lot lately about how to reduce their costs while enhancing the level of fire prevention and protection county-wide. Although some folks might think it will lead to fire department consolidations, the various chiefs in the middle of the discussions say “no, far from it.”

During presentations to various city councils and fire protection district boards, all that’s been on the table is a proposed study to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each department. They say the study would help individual departments improve while revealing areas of inter-department cooperation, not only on regular mutual-aid responses but on shared training, equipment and supplies purchases, and volunteer recruitment.

Monday night the Newport City Council joined five other Lincoln County fire departments in funding the study that will assess the departments and recommend methods of enhanced cooperation between the departments of Newport, Depoe Bay, North Lincoln, Siletz, Central Coast (Waldport) and Yachats. Seal Rock and Toledo fire departments declined to participate.

The study is expected to take a number of months.

Pursuit of stolen car ends on 101 south of Seal Rock

Joseph Vinson, 26

A man in the Bayfront area of Newport, who watched a stranger drive off with his car this morning, got on the phone to 9-1-1 and reported his car’s description and direction of travel as it sped off. About 15 minutes later an alert OSP trooper spotted the Honda CRV headed south on Highway 101 near Ona Beach. The trooper whipped his car around and took off after it.

The trooper activated his overhead lights and siren, but the thief increased his speed and, according to the OSP, drove very aggressively and passed other vehicles in no passing zones. Several miles ahead of the pursuit Lincoln County Deputy Sheriff Barry Brewster deployed spike strips. When the CRV roared by and over the spikes, three of the car’s tires immediately went flat. A mile later the car was stopped, and an OSP trooper and a sheriff’s deputy arrested the driver.

He was identified as Joseph Vinson, 26, from Newport. He was immediately returned to Newport and booked into the Lincoln County Jail on charges of auto theft, attempting to elude officers and reckless driving. He was also cited for driving on a suspended license and on a felony warrant for violation of probation.

The vehicle was returned immediately to its owner. As part of his sentencing, Vinson will be ordered to repay the victim the cost of new tires.

Small fire on SW Elizabeth, Newport, Sunday evening

Provided by Assn’t Fire Chief Rob Murphy

At around 8:23 pm today Newport Fire Department responded to a report of a dryer fire located on SW Elizabeth St. Our first arriving unit reported smoke coming from a single family residence on the 200 block of SW 10th Street. Firefighters found a small fire burning in the dryer and extinguished it. There was one adult and two children at home at the time of the fire. They had evacuated the residence prior to calling 911. None of them were injured.

Fire damage was contained the dryer and only the laundry room suffered smoke damage. After the fire was extinguished, the residence was ventilated of smoke and returned to the occupants.

Newport Fire Department responded with 2 fire engines, 1 command vehicle and 11 firefighters. Newport Police Department assisted with traffic control. Pacific West Ambulance and Central Lincoln PUD also assisted.

The fire was caused by a malfunction inside the dryer which ignited the clothes inside. Newport Fire Department urges everyone clean your dryer’s lint trap after every load of laundry, and have a working smoke detector. Any questions may be directed to the Public Information Officer.

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