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Clock delays council action

City's franchise fee repeal, public building fixes are on hold for now

The Lake Oswego City Council skipped over plans to repeal a controversial franchise fee hike on Tuesday.

Two of the three approved fee increases are set to take effect July 1. The council has until July 1 to appeal the third, which otherwise would take effect Aug. 1.

The council voted 4-3 in May to temporarily raise franchise fees or taxes paid by customers of Allied Waste, Northwest Natural and PGE to raise money for Lake Oswego schools. The council has promised to give $2 million to the Lake Oswego School District to help prevent drastic cuts to local school programs.

With higher fees in place, residents would pay an average $4 to $5 more per month for the three services. Local businesses would also see increases on their bills.

But not everyone who lives in Lake Oswego has children in local schools, and the increases would not affect residents of Tualatin, West Linn and Rivergrove whose properties are in the Lake Oswego School District.

Councilor Bill Tierney, who initially voted in favor of raising the fees, gave official notice he would propose a repeal. And at the end of last month, the Lake Oswego Citizens Budget Committee, half of which is made up of the city council, eliminated the franchise fee hikes from the next fiscal year's budget.

The council was set to potentially reverse the fee increases Tuesday.

Instead, upon reaching its preferred 10 p.m. meeting cutoff point, the council adjourned, leaving several of its more substantive agenda items on the table.

In addition to the franchise fee issue, council members will have to return later to a discussion about replacing public safety facilities - putting a bond measure on the November ballot would require multiple meetings before the Sept. 8 deadline to file.

They also delayed considering a resolution of necessity related to building a waterline across Oswego Lake.

To complete projects planned for the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership, the city will need to obtain easements or other property interests, including 'sub-surface easements' for underground digging, from the Lake Oswego Corporation and private property owners in the area. The resolution would also allow officials to acquire property through eminent domain if negotiations are unsuccessful.

In other business Tuesday, the council:

n Unanimously approved a $1.37 million contract with Portland Engineering Inc. to provide design engineering and construction support services for the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership.

But there was a hitch.

Tierney said this contract request was the last he'd support from the water partnership until the council meets with Tigard leaders to discuss risk.

Some permits haven't been obtained, and changes associated with those could put some of the partnership's projects at risk. Meanwhile, the city of Tigard is preparing to send its required five-year notice that it will quit contracting with Portland for water in 2016.

'I'd prefer to have these discussions in an environment today when there aren't real dollars associated as opposed to being in a situation where we've expended money,' Tierney said.

n Tabled a decision on creating a new overlay allowing more uses in the Industrial Park zone, one of two industrial zones in the city. The other one is in Foothills.

The proposed zoning overlay would apply to 23 properties in the Boones Ferry Road area north of Willow Lane, expanding uses permitted in their buildings to include offices, professional services and some retail options.

Council members wanted to wait to deliberate on some aspects of the proposal, incuding whether to allow self-storage units in the overlay area, considered a high-impact portion of the Industrial Park district because it serves as an entrance to the city.

The issue will likely come back to the council July 5.

n Proclaimed Monday through June 17 'Friends' week in recognition of the various volunteer community support groups throughout Lake Oswego, noting those groups donate their time and help raise money, stretching limited city resources while helping to achieve community goals. Councilor Sally Moncrieff, who initiated the proclamation, specifically highlighted the volunteer work of Mike Buck, an active member of Friends of Brookside, which helps maintain Iron Mountain Park.

Buck, however, drew attention to Friends of Springbrook Park, which he said was the first Friends group in the city. 'We followed their example,' he said.

n Recognized high school senior members of the city's Youth Action Council. Of about 20 members, 10 are seniors graduating this year. In all, they've put in more than 500 hours of service working on parks and recreation programs for teenagers, according to the department.