Featured Stories

Scappoose to outline 2014 goals

Unexpected 2013 spending may require special focus on citys goal of fiscal responsibility

by: FILE PHOTO - Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge indicated one of the city's major goals is to eventually develop a higher education presence in Columbia County. Portland Community College has been considering developing land at the Scappoose Industrial Airpark for the past four years, but that land falls within a proposed Urban Growth Boundary Expansion that has been tied up in appeals by two opponents.The Scappoose City Council will hold a goal-setting session Saturday, Feb. 15, at 10 a.m. in the council chambers of City Hall. The purpose of the meeting will be to review previous goals set for 2013, and establish new goals for the current year.

Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge said that while many of the 2013 goals remain unrealized, most are long-term goals and will be addressed over subsequent years.

Burge said he will focus his attention on goals aimed at bolstering economic development.

Goal achievements have not been a highlight for the current council, which has been mired in staffing issues related to discipline for Scappoose Police Chief Douglas Greisen, who is currently on paid administrative leave, and the termination of former City Manager Jon Hanken’s employment in November.

At a January City Council meeting, former Council President Jeff Bernhard criticized the city for failing to complete most of the goals it had outlined for 2013. After his review of the council’s 32 goals for 2013, Bernhard said he could only identify four that had been completed.

“I understand the need for goals, and many of these will be over a 10-year span, but facts show this council either has forgotten the goals they set forth or is ineffective in making the goals of this community a reality,” Bernhard read from a prepared statement in January.

The former councilor also criticized the city for spending more than $145,000 on a severance package for Hanken. Records requested by the Spotlight have revealed the city spent roughly $200,000 on unexpected city personnel issues over the past year. Burge

Burge said he has had time to reflect on some of the concerns Bernhard had raised.

“One of those goals was to maintain community fiscal responsibility,” Burge said. “In the budget, we made sure everything got done without us going broke. Some of it was unavoidable as far as personnel issues. Certain things you have to do. You also have to make choices weighing costs and benefits. Other expenditures were council decisions.”

“I think it’s devastating to the budget, but I think the city will recover. I think it might take a couple years, but Bernhard had some valid questions of the council that are not easy to answer,” Burge continued. “On the other hand, the council did raise water rates, which was desperately needed.”

Development at Scappoose Industrial Airpark was one prospect Burge said could advance the city’s economy. Burge said the city also needs to focus on helping to retain local businesses, potentially with a “buy local” campaign, coupled with a business incubator.

“One [goal] I’ll probably really talk about would be a higher level of education, [Portland Community College] or otherwise,” he said. “Economic development shows where there are higher educational opportunities. It helps with economic development. I think it’s really important for Columbia County to have a brick-and-mortar higher education presence, preferably PCC.”

Burge said many remaining goals can be absorbed by other city initiatives while others may require coordination with separate community and government bodies.

“Most are long-term goals and a few were accomplished,” Burge said, noting some remaining goals can be folded into a campaign the city adopted in December geared at curbing obesity-related chronic diseases. By joining the Healthy Eating Active Living Cities Campaign, the city may be better positioned to receive grants for certain projects related to the promotion of good health.

“There’s hope for the future on future goals and hope to provide jobs and expand recreation opportunities. Some are long-term, some we haven’t had a chance to look at yet,” Burge said, adding the council had moved forward with some goals, including changing the city logo and developing a Scappoose podcast.

Burge said other long-term goals include developing a Columbia County council of governments, building an outdoor swimming pool and developing community gardens and a river walk trail. He expressed concern, however, over whether some of these goals should be regarded as top priorities.

Burge indicated Scappoose will likely need to work with other city governments and community organizations to accomplish its long list of goals.

Asked what he might bring to the table at Saturday’s goal setting session, Scappoose City Councilor Mark Reed said he had “nothing specific in mind at the moment,” noting there has been little to no discussion about the meeting. Reed added, however, he would likely contribute to what he described would be a “brainstorming session” between the councilors and that the city has some immediate needs.

Scappoose City Councilors Jason Meshell, Barbara Hayden and Jeff Erickson did not return calls from the Spotlight before press time.