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Councilors identify priorities for next year’s legislature

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
In response to a survey asking the City Council to identify priorities to focus on in the upcoming state legislative session, Lebanon’s council members came up with four at their monthly meeting Wednesday, July 8.
The four they agreed on as most important: giving cities more leeway in spending during crises; continuing economic recovery strategies and investments for small business and workforce assistance adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; increasing the state’s investment in infrastructure, particularly seismic resilience; and supporting the delivery of mental health services that reduce negative police interactions and provide help for those who need it.
The League of Oregon Cities put out its annual survey to city councils to identify priorities to focus on at an upcoming state legislative session.
After some discussion between councilors, they selected those four priorities from a list of 26 options provided by the LOC.
“I’m gonna say ‘COVID-19 economic recovery investments’ is gonna be of absolute paramount importance this next year,” said councilor Rebecca Grizzle. “I don’t know how it’s avoidable to not request, as a City, that they talk about that.”
Grizzle also noted that, despite dealing with the current pandemic and survival, infrastructure resilience for earthquakes and water infrastructure is “critical.”
The survey specified that mental health services have been a priority over the last five years.
“Items contained in this priority have included crisis intervention training for police officer, mobile police and social worker teams to proactively work with people in danger of going into crisis, jail diversion, mental health courts and greater access to care,” a report from the LOC said. “In the immediate past short session, the LOC worked with its coalition partners to obtain $9 million in additional funding for aid-and-assist, community care and jail diversion but was unsuccessful due to a lack of quorum.”
None of the councilors voiced reservations regarding the four priorities.
The other 22 options were a wide range of options ranging from a state tax increase on beer and cider to improving broadband infrastructure and funding for leveling the digital playing field to funding for highways safety and funding measures, and much more.
In other business, councilors:
♦ Approved the annexation of property located at 820 W Oak St.
♦ Approved the annexation of various street segments in order to better organize the jurisdictional boundaries of the City. They include: Airport Road near Airway; Airport Road near Cypress Court; 12th Street at F Street; Cascade Drive near Crowfoot Road; Russell Drive near Franklin Street; and portions of Wassom Street.
♦ Approved a resolution to amend Resolution No. 2020-11 to include delinquent sewer and storm drain assessments.
♦ Approved a resolution to amend Resolution No. 2020-14 to correct a request for taxes for the Northwest Lebanon Urban Renewal District. The property value for taxes to be based on is supposed to be $60,000,000, not the $105,000,000 number recorded in error.
♦ Approved an agreement to enter into a contract with PFM Financial Advisors LLC. The City has several outstanding debts that may be eligible for refinancing and better terms. The contract with PFM obtains the services of a financial advisor to develop and assist in implementing the City’s strategies to meet its current and long-term financial obligations, capital financing needs and render assistance in respect to debt transaction.
♦ Approved a motion to enter into a grant agreement with the State of Oregon for costs incurred from COVID-19. The city calculated $933,820.05 in expenses incurred from March 1 to May 15, which may be reimbursed to the city from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The city may also be eligible for further reimbursed funds for expenses after May 15.
♦ Entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Sweet Home necessary to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to provide emergency childcare through the Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Santiam. The grant would provide $50,000 in emergency childcare services for essential workers, first responders and low-to-moderate income workers needing childcare.