Hines council discusses debt

Posted on September 5th in News

Decision by council will save taxpayers money

By Demian Cushing
Burns Times-Herald

With an eye toward saving the city and its taxpayers both time and money, City Administrator (CA) Joan Davies took a pragmatic look at existing debt for the city of Hines and presented her findings to council members at the meeting of the Hines Common Council on Aug. 28 at Hines City Hall.

The focus of her examination centered on the city’s water and sewer system, which included original loans dating back dozens of years.

CA Davies noted that the original loan for about $1.2 million for the sewer lagoons was financed at 3.14 percent and could not currently be improved upon; however, a reserve payment of about $10,000 was set aside in 2002 and it was calculated that the release of these funds in the form of payment on said loan would reduce the amount the city would be required to hold in reserve going forward.

Further, Davies advised that while the water meter debt was paid off earlier this year (July 2012), there was a balance remaining for the water systems development into the industrial park that stands at $234,644.67 with nine years remaining at 6 percent interest. Davies, working in conjunction with the state of Oregon and various banks was able to secure two different options to refinance the balance of this loan. The Bank of Eastern Oregon and US Bank each offered terms with lower rates (4.25 percent and 2.34 percent respectively) both options reflect payment reduction but the US Bank option also allows two years to be removed from the length of the loan owing to the greatly reduced interest rate.

Discussion amongst the council members afforded great appreciation for the Bank of Eastern Oregon, while the reduction of payment was greater year by year in its offer, the aggregate term and payment decreases in the US Bank offer was passed unanimously following a motion by councilor Dick Baird.

Three new nuisance complaints prompted a lengthy review of city ordinance as it pertains to abatement. These grievances centered on unkempt yards that may present fire hazards as well as empty and partially open structures that were alleged to be a dangerous draw to children. The formal route of mitigating these complaints is spelled out clearly in the city code and includes actions that begin with a formal phone call from a city official up to the requirement of sending a crew to the property at the owners expense in order to force compliance with city ordinance.

The latter of these actions serves as a bit of a quandary for the city as it struggles to meet the demands of its citizens, its own municipal laws as well as the rights of private property owners. While response to such complaints initiates a formal proceeding, the application of such steps often incurs questions about the standards to which the violating party should be held. In cases that appear to be clearly hazardous to public safety it was decided with unanimous consent to move forward in sending crews to conduct some of the nuisance abatement clean-up. Councilor Brent Drury remarked, “We have to do what the law tells us to do.” Drury also commented that the city may be able to ask for assistance from the parole and probation work crew.

In other business, County Judge Steve Grasty sent a letter of request asking for the City of Hines’ support for the county’s desire to renew and maintain the old Egley Complex fire line established back in 1983. The request would not require the use of city maintenance equipment and it was noted by councilor Hilda Allison that parts of that fire line are already being maintained by property owners, including Jay Winn. By consensus, council approved support for the county initiative.

Chief of Police Ryan DeLange reported on a busy month which included the serving of search warrants, domestic assaults, minors in possession (MIP) as well as 15 automobile break-ins. DeLange noted that four suspects in the break-ins are currently under investigation.

DeLange officially received his life credits from Clackamas Community College, the transcripts were sent to the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Public Training (DPSST) as had been discussed last month (July 24) preceding his being voted Chief of Police.

Superintendent of Public Works Pedro Zabala reported that he and CA Davies met with the Oregon Department of Transportation, Harney Rock and Paving as well as the Anderson-Perry engineers at the conclusion of the street overlay project. A noticeable bump on W. Bennett will be repaired next week and additional shoulder rock will be added to slope some abrupt drops. Zabala and Len Arntz will complete final inspection after these adjustments.

Relatedly, the council discussed repainting various parking stripes, cross walks and handicapped parking spaces. Historically this is done every fall but it was decided that holding off until spring of next year would be more prudent as much of the paint has held up well and the snow and ice would soon cover these markings. Ron Williams of Top-Loc Asphalt Maintenance advised CA Davies that his crew had donated crosswalk and street striping around the middle school in order to facilitate safety for the children in this area.

A donation of 12 acres of land, which includes the old mill pond, was renewed by Bruce Resnick. It was envisioned that this property could be developed as a municipal park. After much discussion it was determined that the liability and development/maintenance cost would prove too high. While council wished to thank the Resnick family for its generous offer, the donation was nonetheless declined.

A total of four business licenses were reviewed and approved. “Superior Floors” owned by Ryan Huber, Remington Real Estate LLC owned by Dawn Newton of Bend and “Tote the Note Auto Sales” LLC owned by Gary Herberger were all approved unanimously.

“College Works Painting” was a business in operation over the summer and while it was late in obtaining city license, it too was approved.

A donation request by the Harney County Fair Board to sponsor the “Red S” race as the city had done in the past prompted councilor Baird to move for a $150 donation that was passed by council vote.

CA Davies announced in closing comments that the deadline for filing for the open mayor and council seats had passed as of 5 p.m. (Aug. 28). Three candidates will vie for mayor including the incumbent mayor, Nikki Morgan, Ray Breshears Sr. and Burns City Manager Don Munkers. In council position one, Hilda Allison will be unopposed while incumbent Brent Drury will run against Ron Williams and incumbent John Mims will face off against Roy Crafts for positions two and three respectively.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 11, at Hines City Hall.

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