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Priorities, budget will be focus


Weigh in on services, programs and the city budget on Tuesday

If you care about paving potholes, paying for water projects and public safety facilities, about what the city finally does with the West End Building or how the city goes about finishing up a three-year review of the comprehensive plan, essentially a road map for Lake Oswego’s future development, then mark your calendar for next week.

These are among topics up for consideration as 2013 council sets priorities at a town hall meeting starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at city hall, 380 A Ave.

The council hopes to receive input on those and other issues as well as ideas to consider when developing the next fiscal year’s budget, which would take effect in July.

Officials are particularly interested in hearing about the services and programs citizens value most and those they might be able to live without.

Budget direction

The council provided some preliminary budget direction to city staff members during a Jan. 15 meeting.

Councilor Jeff Gudman asked staff to develop a 2013-14 budget that includes a reduction in the “tax rate per $1,000 ... to offset the increase in tax assessed value.”

He also asked staff members “to find $1.3 million in the overall budget to fund a one-time offset” in utility bills. He didn’t cite a specific source for the money but said he had some ideas.

Councilor Karen Bowerman said she’d like to emphasize “core services” and to increase maintenance of streets and open spaces.

Councilor Skip O’Neill said he’d like to look at city-owned properties that they might be able to sell, such as land near Oswego Lake on McVey Avenue that was purchased for use during the sewer interceptor project, which has since been completed.

Mayor Kent Studebaker said he’d like to know estimated costs and issues related to replacing the city’s new maintenance facility as well as a new South Shore fire station.

Finance Director Ursula Euler noted Assistant City Manager David Donaldson previously came up with some ideas for setting aside a quarter-million dollars for a new fire station, “which really over the years adds up fairly quickly.”

Potential priorities

At a meeting on Jan. 22, council members mentioned some issues they’d like to prioritize in 2013.

Bowerman said she’d like to review the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership projects, to “resolve sensitive lands,” pay more attention to street maintenance and pedestrian and bicycle safety, and to take a fresh look at the city’s tree code.

Council President Mike Kehoe said he’d like the city to “pave more potholes.”

Councilor Donna Jordan noted that pothole paving and roadwork are always a challenge. Those efforts are limited not only by funding constraints but also by the short window of dry weather each year.

“I’m curious if that isn’t something we look at maybe doing in a new way or a different way so more can be accomplished,” she said.

As for her preferred priorities, Jordan said she’d like to focus on completing the comprehensive plan, including a new transportation system plan that is part of it. Some audience members shook their heads at this idea.

She would also like to decide whether the city should locate new public safety facilities on any part of the West End Building property.

O’Neill also wanted to decide whether new public facilities might be housed at the WEB, and he suggested the city try to bring construction companies into the Lake Grove redevelopment process early to value-engineer work on Boones Ferry Road.

Gudman said he’d like to focus on moving ahead with design and construction on Boones Ferry Road and determine the future of the proposed North Anchor project area downtown.

Studebaker said he’d like to “make Lake Oswego more business-friendly,” which might involve looking at the permitting process “and whether all of the hoops people have to jump through are necessary,” and to review and evaluate what to do about replacing the city’s maintenance facility.

The council discussed whether sensitive lands, a program limiting development in areas deemed environmentally sensitive, should be a “priority” given the revision process has been ongoing for a couple of years.

Kehoe said he felt the issue should be given precedence.

“It’s going to be a big project and a lot of work has already gone into it.”

Interim City Manager Tom Coffee said, “There’s been a lot of discussion for many years. The priority would be to come to closure on this, recognizing that all parties may not be totally satisfied, but at least the council had done its best to get what they believe the community wants to have in place.”

The council will discuss and whittle down priorities after the upcoming town hall meeting, Coffee said. A final list of council priorities could then be drafted at the end of February or in March.