Mayor John Kovash gives annual address

by: VERN UYETAKE - Mayor John Kovash delivered his annual state of the city address to the West Linn Chamber of Commerce at the Oregon Golf Club on  March 14.Though it wasn’t all roses and good news, Mayor John Kovash thinks the state of West Linn is still “pretty good.”

Kovash delivered his annual state of the city address March 14 to the West Linn Chamber of Commerce, elected officials and fire and police representatives. Clackamas County Commissioners Tootie Smith, Jim Bernard, Paul Savas and Martha Schrader were also in attendance.

“Most of you know the beginning of this year was an intense one in West Linn,” Kovash said, referring to the Lake Oswego-Tigard water treatment plant hearings. “The council and staff handled perhaps the most challenging land use case in West Linn’s history.”

Kovash talked about how the LOT decision would benefit West Linn and the status of the city’s water infrastructure, including aging pipes and a 99-year-old water reservoir.

“It doesn’t take long to figure out there are problems with about every part of this system,” he VERN UYETAKE - During his state of the city address, Mayor John Kovash talked about the city's water rates in comparison to neighboring cities.

Kovash told the audience that without the water storage the new LOT partnership and intertie agreement could provide, West Linn would need to double the size of its storage and construct a new water main under the Willamette River to the tune of $20 million.

He also touched on the $5 million lump-sum payment to West Linn that is part of the water plant approval.

“We have a lot of time to think about this, but there has been some discussion about dedicating it to water infrastructure. I would think that replacing our 99-year-old Bolton Reservoir would be right at the top of the list,” Kovash said.

The mayor also discussed the 2013 city council priorities that the council approved March 11.

Those goals include transportation system maintenance and improvements, considering a downsized aquatic center, planning for the Blue Heron property, addressing water infrastructure, advancing economic development and celebrating the city’s 100 birthday.

For transportation, the city plans to adopt and implement a trail master plan, making sidewalks and walkways accessible, and installing a traffic light at the corner of Salamo and Rosemont roads.

“If you have a student at Rosemont Ridge Middle School, or you commute through this intersection, or visit the adult community center, you know this intersection gets hazardous,” he said. The light, which is set to be installed later this year, will cost about $500,000. “This infrastructure is really expensive.”by: VERN UYETAKE - Mayor John Kovash talked about the city councils priorities for 2013 during his state of the city address on March 14.

Economic development will be another big driver for 2013. Last year the city hired its first economic development director. This year the city is adding an intern to assist with outreach to West Linn business owners.

“We would like our government to be more helpful and less expensive,” he said. “We just want to do better and to enhance our community’s economy at less cost to you.”

The city’s projected $1.8 million shortfall over the next two years was also a topic. Kovash cited a hike in PERS (retirement program) costs and a drop in property tax revenue for the budget gap.

“We have some real tough choices to make,” Kovash said. “We don’t have a large tax base and we can’t change that, we don’t have any control of that.

“We cannot expand and we don’t have industrial land. We don’t have Intel writing us checks. We are what we are.”

Kovash also stressed the need for the city to get creative and start collaborating with other municipalities.

“In summary, the city is doing pretty well,” Kovash said.

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