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Neeley mixes humor, finances in 'State of City'

During his State of the City address on Friday at the Pacific Crest Grand Ballroom, Oregon City Mayor Doug Neeley focused on bolstering finances after the city has had to lay off only one employee throughout the recession.

Crediting relative financial health to voters passing library and fire district measures, Neeley lobbied for support of several investments in the coming years.

Neeley and other commissioners at their meeting last week, concerned that a water-rate rollback scheduled next year would cut everything except the city water department’s ability to purchase water, put a “corrective” measure on the upcoming May 21 ballot. If Oregon City voters can prevent that rollback, Neeley expects operations, “in terms of the day-to-day services,” would remain intact.

“The 3 percent (cap on rate increases) is not going to meet our long-term needs, so we’re looking to a second measure in November,” he said.

He expected there also would “have to be some sort of funding mechanism” to increase the number of parks maintenance staff to work in the acreage that the city has acquired.

Neeley revealed that closed-door negotiations have been striving to purchase a new site for the library without having to go to a public vote for a bond.

“Libraries are not dinosaurs,” he said, again citing the overwhelming passage of a county library district. “Not all people can afford to have their own Internet services ... I feel very, very certain that by the end of the year we’ll have a new site for the library.”

McLoughlin Boulevard could get a new “gateway” historical signs and a lighted bike path pending ODOT’s authorization.

“To whether we’re going to be able to pull this into the project, it remains to be seen,” he said.

Neeley highlighted last year’s Main Street restoration and reconstruction of the Arch Bridge. Outside of downtown, he mentioned the recent construction of Hilltop Safeway, the Abernethy Chapel and a possible bike café at the Amtrak station.

Neeley peppered his speech with dry humor, as he had in his previous two State of the City speeches. If the city of Portland doesn’t contribute to the historic Ermatinger House restoration, he threatened to uncover some revisionist evidence on the coin toss so he could “demand that Portland be changed to Boston.”

Explaining why there wouldn’t be canvas on the newly painted wagons at the End of the Oregon Trail Museum, he said, “When the wagons arrived here, they probably looked more like that, without the canvas.”




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