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Council sets goals

West Linn City Council has adopted an ambitious two-year agenda

The West Linn City Council has taken two steps forward in planning its future work. The annual list of council priorities - which lists the most important work to be done - is now a two-year list.

Looking an extra year into the city's crystal ball should give the council and city staff a leg-up on its responsibilities, according to City Manager Chris Jordan.

'There's some long-term thinking in this priority list,' Jordan said. 'Some of these projects just can't be finished in one year. And since the budget isn't approved until July 1, when the year is half over, it makes sense to plan on a two-year cycle.'

In the first two months of this term of office the council has taken a big bite into its priority list, including: adopted a Goal 5 ordinance, made some changes to the Community Development Code, began planning a Re-Imagine West Linn (visioning) project, considered the contract for the Water Master Plan, continued the process of approving neighborhood plans, considered changes to the way neighborhood associations are organized and function, offered information in various ways to assist voters to decide the fate of the police levy, encouraged city staff to complete a five-year financial plan for the city and complete state-required audits, and began a process to solve traffic congestion on 10th Street.

But the list for calendar years 2007 and 2008 is broader than those initial steps at managing the city.

One of the topics destined to raise public debate is the change proposed to the way neighborhood associations are organized and function.

The proposal includes different ways to measure a quorum, which meeting topics require a quorum, the reasons that taxpayer funds would be distributed to neighborhood associations and the ability of neighborhood associations to appeal decisions made by the city council or planning commission.

Appeals of city decisions are pretty expensive, Jordan said, and therefore probably shouldn't be allowed if it's just a few people who disagree.

'If the issue doesn't draw much interest and doesn't get many people to a meeting, then maybe it's not that important,' he said. 'It may be important to two or three people, but if it doesn't get 10 or 15 people to a meeting then maybe the critical mass just isn't there. These appeals cost the city a lot of money, and just because a few people don't like (a decision) maybe that's not a good reason to make the taxpayers foot the bill for an appeal.'

Community Services Coordinator John Atkins pointed to another concern regarding lines of authority.

'If a (city sponsored and funded) neighborhood association is allowed to appeal a city council decision to (the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals),' he said, 'that would be like the city suing itself.'

The priority list is organized with some of the projects identified for work beginning in the current year, while others are dated or of lower priority, and work on them isn't planned until 2008.

Among priority items for the current year not listed above are: refine the Comprehensive Plan, develop a community-supported strategy for the Stafford Basin, refine the annexation process, promote the recruitment and retention of outstanding city staff, plan to proactively communicate with local citizens and organizations, gain voter approval of adequate funding for public safety for the next five years, select a site and begin the design phase for a new police station, update an emergency preparedness plan, begin to implement the city's approved sustainability plan, develop a new transportation plan and Highway 43 concept plan, identify adequate funding for road maintenance, adopt the updated parks and recreation master plan, make plans for the Willamette centennial in 2008, revise the land-use review process and review the city's role as a facilitator of social services.

For more information on the city council's priorities, visit the Web site www.ci.west-linn.or.us and click on the link entitled 'Council Vision, Goals and Priorities,' and then scroll through the goals and click on 'Council Priorities 2007-08.'