Minutes of the Veneta City Council

September 27, 2004




Present: Mayor Tim Brooker, Darrell Carman, Thomas Cotter, Marion Esty, and Fred Miller


Lane County

Commissioners: Bobby Green, Don Hampton, and Peter Sorenson


Excused: Commissioners Anna Morrison and Bill Dwyer


Others: Ric Ingham, City Administrator; Sheryl Hackett, City Recorder; Joan Mariner; Mona Linstromberg; Sheriff Jan Clemens; Larry Larson; Marty Byers; and Jeneca Jones, West Lane News


Mayor Brooker called the Veneta City Council to order at 6:30 p.m. and welcomed Lane County Commissioners' Bobby Green, Don Hampton, and Peter Sorenson.




Joan Mariner; 25712 Cochran Court; Veneta, OR

Ms. Mariner said she lives east of the city limits and her property is being impacted by development that is happening inside the City. She said she wants to know who is watching out for the interests of the county residents.


Mona Linstromberg; 87140 Territorial Road; Veneta, OR

Ms. Linstromberg said she read about the proposal for a fee reduction for City residents based on hardship. She said she feels the City should adopt stormwater drainage fees similar to what Eugene has. adopted. Rather than a flat fee, the fee is based on the amount of impervious surface. She feels the Eugene formula is more progressive and encourages people to design homes that have less impact on surface drainage.


For clarification, Ric said the proposed fee reduction is for the City's wastewater fee, not the storm drainage fee.




MOTION: Fred Miller made a motion to approve the consent agenda as presented. Thomas Cotter seconded the motion. 


On voting:  Marion Esty, aye; Thomas Cotter, aye; Mayor Brooker, aye; Darrell Carman, aye; and Fred Miller, aye.


The consent agenda as approved included approval of the minutes for September 13, 2004, bills paid and payable for August/September 2004, Civic Calendar for October 2004, Liquor License for Change of Ownership of Bliss Sports Bar & Grill, and acceptance of warranty deed dedicating City owned property to City right-of-way for Pine Street.






(1) Joint meeting between the Lane County Board of Commissioners and the Veneta City Council to discuss issues of common concern.


a. Call to order Lane County Commissioners.


Chairman Bobby Green called the Lane County Commissioners to order at 6:37 p.m. He said the two issues they would like to discuss with the Council are the formation of a public safety district and secure rural schools.


Commissioner Green said for 2005 they plan to go to Washington DC to lobby for the national forest receipts.  In the past, Lane County has received the greatest portion of those funds which have helped support the Sheriff’s projects in the federal forest. 80% of the Forest Work Camp is funded with federal dollars. Without the funds, much of Lane County activity will cease because of the adverse impact it will have on the  general fund.


Public Safety District: Commissioner Green said a task force had been formed to determine whether or not to propose a Public Safety District to the  voters.  The purpose of a Public Safety District would be to stabilize services in Lane County.


Commissioner Green said they will come back to the Council when they have more information from the task force.  If a district is proposed, it needs to be workable and they need to know the consequences. He said formation of the district will require a minor amendment to the metro plan.  The district will be geared toward retaining current services, not growth.  He said the County cannot continue to go in the direction they have been going, they need to find a way to balance the budget.  The only way to reduce expenses is to decrease or eliminate services.  He said doing nothing is not an option; however, they will need to find out what the public will support.  If the district is not approved, they will have to continue to reduce the level of service.


Sheriff Jan Clemens said if they decide to ask the voters to approve a public service district, it will be on the November 2006 ballot.  He said they need to work out any potential conflicts with the metro plan. The elected officials of all jurisdictions need to understand that they will be adversely impacted by the lack of adequate services provided by the Lane County Jail, the District Attorney's office, and the juvenile department.


Sheriff Clemens said he appreciates the relationship they have with Veneta and are concerned about how the contracts will be impacted. Prior to presenting a public safety district to the voters, they need to do a political, financial, and legal analysis.  He said the contract for Veneta can be looked at as an insurance policy for an enhanced level of service; but, the best situation would be one where there are no boundaries for criminals from unincorporated areas to prey on cities. As part of the public safety district, they may propose a second tier tax with residents of the unincorporated areas paying a higher rate because city residents already pay for additional patrols.


Commissioner Sorenson said they appointed the task force to study the overall problems of Lane County government, in particular the costs relative to revenue. They asked the task force to find out what the community wants, increased revenue or decreased services. He said the demands point to asking for more money; however, the public record on voting has been an unwillingness to support it. In addition to assigning a task force, the Board voted to begin the staff work of putting together the concept plan for a public safety district. They need to determine what the tax rate would be and how they can protect other county services as well.


Commissioner Green asked for ideas from the Veneta City Council and citizens. He said their ideas will be taken under advisement.


Mayor Brooker said he believes the voters will never approve an increase in taxes until the County gets their house in order. He said he appreciates the efforts of the Board and said the Council will entertain any ideas the Commissioners have for help. He said public safety is a very important issue for Veneta and they appreciate having the contract with the Sheriff's Office. He said they are concerned with the reduction in services, especially the elimination of the drug team. If the Commissioners find a public safety district is the answer, Veneta will be supportive if they know what services will be included. He said the City wants to continue contracting with the Sheriffs Department.


Marion Esty said Veneta is growing and the citizens are very concerned with the quality of life. She said she feels they will support the district.


Secure Rural Schools Coalition: Mayor Brooker said he feels it is important to solve the education crisis. He said Veneta will not continue to attract new residents if the rural schools continue to suffer. He said he would appreciate anything the Commissioners can do to help the School District.


Commissioner Green said they will be sending a delegation to Washington DC with a list of Lane County priorities, one of which is schools. He said they would appreciate getting a resolution from Veneta in support of rural schools.


Commissioner Sorenson said the Secure Rural Schools law provides money for counties in the US that have federal forest lands. Of the 50 states, Oregon, and Lane County in particular, get the largest portion of those funds; therefore, he said the Commissioners have gone on the United Front visits.  He said half the total money goes to Oregon; however, Oregon only has 1% of the votes in Congress. He said conditions have changed since the money was first authorized in October 2000, now there is a federal deficit and there is no guarantee of getting the funds.


Veneta Economic Development Strategic Plan: Mayor Brooker asked the Commissioners to read the City's Economic Strategic Plan and Implementation Plan. He said the City is looking for ways to add family wage jobs to the community by going through a visioning process. The City is looking for ways to help both new and existing businesses. He said the City is working with the Governor's office to get some sites certified as shovel ready. The City is also working with private developers and state agencies to fund an access from Hwy 126 to open up development in the Northeast Employment Center and would like to partner with Lane County. He said the City would appreciate any ideas the Commissioners have to help with the implementation of Veneta's Economic Development Plan.


Transportation activities: Veneta Community Services Director Margaret Boutell said with the assistance of LCOG, the City is involved in planning activities that focus on transportation and natural resources. The City received a $20,000 grant from DLCD to help resolve some of the conflicts the City has between the wetland protection goals and transportation connectivity. The main goal of the grant is to determine the best places to cross wetlands and which wetlands should be protected. The City is currently seeking a TGM grant from ODOT to address city-wide transportation connectivity which includes collector streets, bike paths, and pedestrian connections. A goal of that project will be to update the City's TSP.


Commissioner Green said it is very ambitious of the City to try to determine the best wetlands to preserve. He said he agrees that north/south street connectivity is a big issue for Veneta and it forces a lot of traffic onto Territorial Road.


Ric Ingham added that the City is currently doing a street assessment which may result in a local gas tax and transportation SDCs.


Mayor Brooker said Hwy. 126 is a high priority for the City. He said two of the highest accident mile posts are within the city limits. He said the growth in Veneta will have a big impact on Hwy. 126.


Stormwater Drainage issues: The City is in the process of developing a stormwater management plan. The first phase of the project will be development of a Capital Improvement Plan and SDCs. There are a number of areas in the City with major drainageways where development is happening. Veneta has an open drainage system and in some areas the drainage leaves the City, goes through the County, and then re-enters the City. The City would like some assistance from the County to help solve some problems in those areas where some of the ditches have not been maintained or culverts are undersized. It will not do a lot of good if the City solves its drainage problems but the water backs up in the County.


Commissioner Green said he will find out who the appropriate staff person is at the County and have them follow up.


In response to a question from Commissioner Green about the level of public involvement for transportation fees and a gas tax, Ric said the Council has been discussing the issue since June. He said the street assessment should be presented to the Council in December. Once the assessment has been completed the public process will begin.


b. Adjourn Lane County Commissioners


Commissioner Green thanked the Council and said they would like to come back when they have more information about the formation of a Public Safety District. He adjourned the Commissioners at 7:32 p.m.


(2) Performing Arts - Larry Larson

Mr. Larson and members interested in forming a Performing Arts group appeared before the Council to ask for support. Mr. Larson said the group feels the vacant building & accessory buildings located on the southeast corner of W. Broadway and Fifth Street has a lot of potential to be converted to a Performing Arts Center. The group is interested in providing opportunities for West Lane citizens of all ages. They envision providing conference rooms that could be used by other agencies and groups, a theater, scene shop, musical rehearsal area, and dance area. Deacon and Hillary Mathews recently purchased the building and they are very supportive of the project.


Marty Byers said for many years area citizens have been interested in such a group; however, this time she feels there is a strong core group that can make it happen. She said people moving to the area are used to having cultural amenities available. She said having a Performing Arts Center on W. Broadway would act as an anchor for the downtown area.


Deacon Mathews said he owns the building and is in full support of the group and will do whatever he can to make it happen. He asked the Council to support the group. He also asked the Council to re-establish the driveway access for the vacant part of his lot that was eliminated when the W. Broadway sidewalk improvements were made. He said the driveway will be needed to provide access to a parking lot.


Mayor Brooker said he feels a Performing Arts Center and theater would be a good way to improve quality of life and bring people together for activities, arts, and culture. He said this particular project lends itself well to giving the community the one thing it lacks which is an identity. He said the City desperately needs an area for teen activities. He said the Council is also in favor of beautifying the historic downtown area of W. Broadway; however, it has taken a back burner because of budget issues.


Mayor Brooker said he would like to direct staff to look at in-kind ways the City could support the groups efforts such as providing legal advise, photocopying, or other services. He said another possibility might be using some of the City's discretionary funds.


Fred Miller said he thought a Performing, Arts Center would be a good urban renewal project. In response, Ric said using the City's Urban Renewal funds would require modifying the plan.


Mayor Brooker asked the group to contact the City again when they have a better idea of what their financial need is and what time frame they have.


MOTION: Fred Miller made a motion to provide in-kind support for the Performing Arts Center. Darrell Carman seconded the motion.


Discussion: Darrell Carman asked if the City could rectify the loss of an access. In response, Mayor Brooker said he would like to defer to staff to find out why the access was eliminated and what it would take to put it back in. If there is any cost involved, he would like it brought back to the Council.


Voting: The motion passed with a unanimous vote of 5-0. COLA


(3) COLA Adjustment for City Administrator's Salary


Mayor Brooker said the City re-instituted the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) as part of the new pay structure for the employees. Mayor Brooker said because the City Administrator is under contract, the Council needs to vote on a COLA for the City Administrator.


MOTION: Fred Miller made a motion to include a COLA adjustment for the City Administrator for the 2004/05 fiscal year. Marion Esty seconded the motion.


Discussion: In response to a question from Thomas Cotter, Mayor Brooker said the employees have not been given COLA's for a number of years He said the percentage of the COLA will vary from year-to-year and will be determined by the budget committee based on the consumer price' index for the region and the City's budget. The salary of every staff person will be increased by the same percent, with the exception of the City Administrator who is under separate contract. Darrell Carman said it is unusual to give a COLA when a one year contract has already been negotiated.


VOTE: The motion passed with a unanimous vote of 5-0.




Marion Esty said Region 2050 will meet Wednesday, the Hwy 126 Safety committee will meet at City Hall on Tuesday, and the LCOG board will meet in Florence on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Ric said he would attend the LCOG board meeting on behalf of the Council. Darrell Carman said he may possibly be able to attend.


Marion (Peer Court) - a resident of Veneta was hired as bookkeeper, Coordinator Susan Schwartz accepted a new job in Bend, and Greg will be taking over the coordinator position.


Ric said a tentative meeting with the Neighbors 4 Responsible Growth will be postponed.






(1) Financial Status of Projects

Shauna explained the new format for project reports. She said the project sheets will track the total costs regardless of the fiscal year (column 1), the original amount of the contract (column 2), and remaining balance of contract (column 3). Budget information for the current fiscal year is tracked on the right hand side of the sheet. In response to a question from Mayor Brooker, Ric said the final punch list for the water expansion project has been issued and should be completed by the end of October or first of November.


(2) Proposed Employee Handbook Updates

Shauna presented several significant parts of the overall employee handbook update. The first document is a proposed new performance evaluation form which has been designed to make it more user friendly for supervisors and more meaningful for the employees. In addition to the rating sections which have been revised, comment spaces for both the evaluator and the employee have been added. The form has been designed to encourage communication between supervisors and employees and have documentation. Spaces have been added for setting goals and for quarterly reviews. The second document is a proposed compensation plan which the City has not had for several years. The base salary for each position was set based on cities of comparable size in the LGPI survey which is published annually. The 2% COLA was taken into consideration and there is a 4% increase between the steps for each position. Salary. adjustments were made for several employees who fell under the base salary for their position. The compensation plan will be used as a tool for new hires and merit increase adjustments. Step increases are not tied to time of service and new hires will begin at a step commensurate with their experience. Step increases are based solely on merit and not guaranteed.


In response to a question from Darrell, Shauna explained that an employee moving to a new position would not begin at the first step if it means a reduction in pay.


Ric pointed out that although many of the City employees are a little below the average for cities of comparable size, Veneta provides higher compensation for health insurance than most cities.


Shauna said the proposed on-call policy for public works staff has been increased from $25/day to $50/day.


Mayor Brooker said some of the issues raised during the meetings of the compensation committee were raises and reviews. He said the proposed evaluation form which calls for more frequent evaluations will be included as a part of the new handbook.


Shauna said the proposed evaluation form and compensation plan has been presented to the employees for review and she has not received any recommended changes. After the Council has had an opportunity to comment, she will prepare a resolution to be adopted by the Council.


In response to a question from Darrell, Shauna said in the future the salary for each step will be bumped up by the percentage of the COLA.


The proposed wage adjustment plan has two components, the first is a COLA to be determined each year in the budget process using the Consumer Price Index (CPI), local market conditions, and budget constraints. If a COLA adjustment is made, it would affect all the positions and take effect July 1st of the budget year. The second component is the merit increase. All employees would be eligible based on their performance evaluations. A merit increase would only be awarded for above-average work.


The Council was asked to get comments to Shauna.



(1) Poplar Plantation update.


Ric said the grading work for planting will require some additional permit processes. Most of the new property acquired from Forrest Larson sits outside the City and there had been no wetland delineation or permits through DSL or the Corp. Staff asked the Council to authorize bringing on a wetlands specialist to do the delineations. A master plan will be developed for the planting phases to take place over the next five years.


Mayor Brooker said the City needs to do whatever necessary to get the required permits and get up to speed on the planting schedule. In response to a question, Ric said the best scenario would be to plant the next phase in November of 2005 or the spring of 2006.


In response to a question from Thomas Cotter, staff said that in the interim, the City can continue to spray effluent on the agricultural land. Margaret is working on a maintenance plan for the existing poplar plantings.


MOTION:  Fred Miller made a motion to authorize staff to engage the services of a wetland specialist. Marion Esty seconded the motion.


Discussion:  In response to a question, Ric said staff is not asking for any funding to be approved at this time, only for authorization to contact a specialist.


VOTE: The motion passed with a vote of 5-0.


Mayor Brooker said before anything is finalized, staff will come back to the Council for approval.


(2) Stormwater Maintenance Proposal


Ric said staff prepared a work plan for annual maintenance in preparation for the upcoming rainy season. The plan includes more maintenance than what has been done in the past, including removing brush and debris in the Cherry Street drainage ditch. Other significant drainage ditches and culverts in the right-of-ways will be cleared.


Darrell Carman pointed out that some of the biggest drainage problems are on private property and property owners should be encouraged to clean the ditches on their property.


Mayor Brooker said the City has limited resources. The City can take action against private property owners through the nuisance abatement process.


Ric said the summer maintenance worker will be kept on three days a week through mid-November to help with stormwater maintenance. Ric said the City needs to have an aggressive public outreach program to encourage private property owners to help with maintenance.


MOTION:  Fred Miller made a motion to approve the Stormwater Maintenance Plan for 2004. Darrell Carman seconded the motion.


Discussion: Mayor Brooker said the Neighbors 4 Responsible Growth agreed to help with public outreach. He said he would appreciate any help they could give.


VOTE:  The motion passed with a vote of 5-0.




(1) Cherry Street drainage update


Ric said the City is very close to having DSL approval to clean out the Cherry Street drainage; however, the Corp permit may take another 3 to 6 months which has put the project on hold through the rainy season. The City will probably need to engage the services of a wetland specialist. The City has budget funds to make the capital improvement for the drainage but there are no funds budgeted for a specialist to help with the permitting process.


Mr. Holman thanked the City and Ric for getting the fill removed from the Coven property. He said even if the ditch does not get cleaned out, the removal of the fill has been extremely helpful by giving the water someplace to go. Ric said the City Engineer will need to check the site to certify whether all of the fill has been removed.


(2) Deferral request for wastewater fee hookup


Ric said the City received a request from Mr. & Mrs. Richardson to enter into the same deferral schedule the City offered in 2002 for people who connected to City sewer. At the time of the sewer connection project in 2002, sewer was not available to the Richardson property. Since that time, sewer was extended down Hunter Road to serve the Forest Grove Subdivision. During construction of Hunter Heights, it was discovered that the Kichardson's drainfield extended beyond their property line and was damaged during construction of the subdivision.


Mayor Brooker said the City will not be out any funds because the property owners will be doing the construction. In response to a question, Shauna said the deferred payments were placed as liens against the properties and became due in full at the time the property sold.


MOTION: Fred Miller made a motion to grant a deferment of the connection and sewer SDC fees for the Richardson's based on the payment schedule in resolution 821. Darrell Carman seconded the motion.


Discussion: Thomas Cotter expressed concern that the Council would be setting precedent for developers asking to connect to City sewer. In response, staff recommended the Council make a finding that the Richardson situation poses a health hazard because the septic drainfield is located on a neighboring property and was damaged during construction.


MOTION: Fred Miller restated his motion to grant a deferment to be paid over a three year period, based on an emergency situation where a public health hazard exists. Darrell Carman seconded the motion which passed with a unanimous vote of 5-0.


(3)  Update on acquisition of water rights


Ric said the City has retained the services of legal council that has an understanding of water rights issues. Based on their analysis, five recommendations have been made for acquisition of the necessary permits to meet the municipal water needs for the next three to five years. Staff recommended approving the recommendations.


MOTION: Fred Miller made a recommendation to endorse the recommendations from Martha Pagel for securing water right permits and certifications. Thomas Cotter seconded the motion. 


Discussion: In answer to a question, Ric Ingham said there is enough money in the well site acquisition & development budget to cover the legal fees and permit fees.


VOTE: The motion passed with a unanimous vote of 5-0.


Ric said all of the principal owners of the Well 10 site have signed off; however, the City does not yet have a signed document because of a foreclosure process involving a neighboring property. Ken Jones is working on a release agreement to be signed by the bank.


(4) Update on Water Conservation Plan


The City Council adopted the Water Conservation and Management plan in 2002. The Water Resources Department has submitted a Final Order that needs to be approved by the City Council to finalize the plan. The final order includes some findings of things the City needs to do over the next five years.


MOTION: Fred Miller made a motion to adopt the Water Resources Department Proposed Final Order and findings of fact for the City's Water Management and Conservation Plan. Thomas Cotter seconded the motion which passed with a unanimous vote of 5-0.


5.  OTHER 

Ric said Fred Miller volunteered to represent the Council at the West Lane Centers Anniversary Celebration on Friday at 12:00 p.m. Ric encouraged the other Council members to participate.



Mayor Brooker adjourned the Veneta City Council at 10:07 p.m.






T.J. Brooker, Mayor




Sheryl Hackett, City Recorder

(minutes prepared by Shackett)


Pages 2 through 5 approved by the Lane County Commissioners this ______ day of ___________________, 2004




Bobby Green, Chairman