Vacancy procedures, debt limit also on agenda

Only projects related to automobile lanes — not pedestrian or bike paths — could be petitioned for a public vote under clarifications approved by the City Council this week for a ballet intitiative on changes to Section 40 of the city charter.

Section 40 outlines the public process that the city must undertake before authorizing work on any road that will be more than 20 feet wide when the project is completed. The city must publish a notice 30 days prior to approving such projects, and residents are then able to put the project to a public vote by gathering 25 petition signatures.

Two weeks ago, the council agreed to seek a change to Section 40 through an intitiative on the November ballot. The council suggested requiring 758 signatures, or 3 percent of the city’s registered voters, before projects could be put to a public vote.

During Tuesday’s session, the council decided to slightly alter the wording of the initiative, and unanimously passed a motion to clarify a couple of points. The new language will remind voters that there is a cost for putting any project to a vote, but only outside of a general election. The council also clarified that only projects related to automobile travel lanes could be petitioned for public vote, not pedestrian or bike paths.

A new draft of the explanatory statement will be presented to the council during its July 29 session.

In other action Tuesday:

n The council held its initial study session on council vacancy procedures. Lake Oswego City Recorder Catherine Schneider reminded the council that it took three meetings to fill the position of Councilor Mike Kehoe after his resignation in 2013, highlighting the city’s need for a more sophisticated council vacancy protocol.

The council agreed to use the city of Washougal’s vacancy procedure as an initial model for its discussion. The city in Washington publishes a notice of vacancy, accepts applications for a minimum of three weeks, holds council interviews of qualified candidates during a session that is open to the public, and then schedules an executive session of the City Council, at which time each council member lists his top two selections for the vacancy in order of preference. In Washougal, the mayor only submits a vote in the event of a tie.

The Lake Oswego City Council agreed to establish a separate procedure for mayoral vacancies, and agreed that a temporary mayor would be selected from among the council to serve the remainder of an outgoing mayor’s term.

The council will take up the discussion again in September.

n The council unanimously approved a motion to adopt new debt policies, which includes a new debt limit of $250 million.

n The League of Oregon Cities has asked each city in the state to review a list of 22 recommended legislative priorities and choose its top four.

Mayor Kent Studebaker, who was out of town during Tuesday’s council session, identified his four priorities as increased flexibility in use of lodging taxes; allowance for price comparisons when procuring architect and engineering service; enhanced mental health services to take some of the burden off police and communities; and requiring earlier submission of the last best offer in labor negotiations to provide an opportunity to settle without paying unnecessary arbitration fees.

The council voted 4 to 2 to approve the list and submit it to the League of Oregon Cities, amended with a comment about two additional priorities from the list: transportation and wastewater/septic management.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 29, at 6:30 p.m.

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