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Cornelius council OKs budget, temporary pot ban

'Police taxi service' on its way out after chief's request

Planning on opening a recreational marijuana shop in Cornelius? You’re going to have to wait a little while longer...or forever.

At its meeting on Monday, June 6, the Cornelius City Council unanimously approved a temporary ban on recreational marijuana sales in the city.

Although city code requires medical marijuana shops to be at least 1,000 feet from schools and state-approved childcare facilities, that doesn’t apply to recreational marijuana, which wasn’t yet legal in Oregon at the time the code was written.

Cornelius Mayor Jef Dalin said the measure is only a stopgap until the code is updated. If that hasn’t happened by the next election cycle, however, the voters would decide whether to make the temporary ban permanent.

The city’s fiscal year 2016-17 city budget also passed unanimously. The new budget contains $26.7 million in funding, up from last year’s $23.4 million. However, the General Fund shrinks from $7.9 million last year to $5.8 million this year. The General Fund covers more than half of city employees’ salaries and includes funding for the city council, fire and police departments, parks and the library.

City Manager Rob Drake said the General Fund reduction reflects a shift in grant money, not a reduction in services or staff. In fact, said Drake, most city employees will receive a 2 percent cost-of-living increase.

The Fire Operating Levy also takes effect this year, which creates two new full-time firefighter/paramedic positions. The partnership with the Forest Grove Municipal Court will also continue, meaning hearings for citations issued in Cornelius will be held in the Forest Grove court.

This will also be the last year of a $5.2 million grant awarded in 2013 to improve 10th Avenue, as the project is expected to finish late this year.

The budget notes that planning and fundraising for the new library continues, and the city will focus on raising matching funds from donors. At the council meeting, the Oregon Community Foundation, along with the Metro Leadership Council, donated $30,000 towards the Cornelius Library. To date, the library has raised $3.7 million of the $4.8 million project. The groundbreaking for the new library is planned for early 2017.

The council also unanimously passed a $1.97 increase in average utility rates.

In other news, Police Chief Al Roque asked the council to rename the police advisory board, currently known as the Community Oriented Policing Citizen Advisory Board. Apparently the acronym for that name — COPCAB — makes some people think of “some sort of police taxi service,” he said.