The nugget. (Sisters, Or.) 1994-current, February 04, 2015, Page 21, Image 20

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    Wednesday, February 4, 2015 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon
City council sets goals; outreach at top of list
By Sue Stafford
When the Sisters City
Council sat down last week
for their annual 2015 goal-
setting workshop, they had
an agenda packed with the
“business of City business” –
budgets, current and potential
projects, financial projections,
a host of acronyms (TSP,
– as well as a review of last
year’s goals.
Four of the five council-
ors were in attendance, with
president McKibben Womack
the lone absence. Chris Frye,
mayor, and councilors Wendy
Holzman, David Asson, and
Nancy Connolly spent four
hours working through the
Also there representing
the City staff were: Andrew
Gorayeb, City manager;
Paul Bertagna, Public Works
director; Pauline Hardie,
Community Development
director; Lynne Fujita-
Conrads, Finance direc-
tor; and Kathy Nelson, City
Recorder. Three citizens came
to watch City government in
Councilors had been
asked ahead of time to sub-
mit their own goals for the
City for the coming year.
There were no goals from
Womack. New member
Nancy Connolly began her
comments by voicing her con-
cern about the lack of com-
munication between the City
and the citizens of Sisters.
“The main goal for the
council is to re-establish the
trust of the citizens…We
bypass the process of citizen
input and then get whiplash
from the citizens” when a
decision is made or a project
announced. She continued,
“We need to improve our
community outreach. This
has to be addressed. We need
to be a better partner, to unite
the community. We are stron-
ger with citizen input.”
To that end, Connolly rec-
ommended re-establishing
the Committee for Citizen
Involvement (CCI) as an
advisory group for the coun-
cil. There was a great deal
of talk around the CCI, as it
expanded into a discussion of
how to recruit and retain citi-
zen volunteers on the various
City boards and committees.
Councilman Asson stated,
“They need direction from the
council, with guidelines for
their job, and then let them
Other goals proposed
by Connolly had to do with
affordable housing, for not
only low- but also moder-
ate-income families, so that
employees of local businesses
can afford to live in Sisters,
thereby encouraging new
businesses to come to town.
She would like to see the
“code issues” cleaned up so
that they are interpreted the
same way in all instances.
“The community doesn’t
trust anyone at City Hall,” she
Councilor Asson con-
curred with Connelly on the
issue of an improved afford-
able housing policy, stressing
the necessity of offering real
cost savings and expedited
processing to developers. He
believes the City can’t do it
“It will take some outside
money so we need to attract
investors,” said Asson. “A
10- to 20-unit apartment/resi-
dence/condo development as
a first-year experiment would
be ideal.”
Several of Asson’s other
goals included increased
funding for the City’s eco-
nomic development program
(EDCO) and establishing a
water and sewer rate schedule
that assures rate-payer equity
and builds cash reserves.
Additionally, he has asked for
a review of all current City-
involved litigation and pos-
sible financial ramifications.
Councilor Holzman pro-
posed keeping the same
five goals from 2014, which
would include her continu-
ing work with the Community
Assets Committee and Parks
Advisory Board to identify,
establish or improve new and
existing assets. In the eco-
nomic development arena,
Holzman agreed with the oth-
ers about the need for living-
wage jobs, funding the EDCO
position at full-time, and to
continue to work closely with
the Sisters Area Chamber
of Commerce to increase
She reported that con-
nectivity will be improved
with the construction of a
roundabout at Highway 20
and Barclay. All councilors
concurred that publicity, edu-
cation and outreach to the
community by both the City
and Oregon Department of
Transportation (ODOT) are
crucial to the public under-
standing the history behind
and the rationale for the
M a y o r F r y e ’s g o a l s
focused on investment in
youth, livability of Sisters,
economic development, hous-
ing, and the resolution of
back-in parking. He believes
that the enhancement of
our parks would help por-
tray Sisters as more family-
focused with available facili-
ties and activities.
Frye also stressed the
importance of considering the
opinions and concerns of “the
people who live here and what
they want,” regarding things
like increased support for
local nonprofits through com-
munity grants, tree-replanting
ratios, improving neighbor-
hood sidewalks and making
Creekside Campground a bet-
ter neighbor.
The mayor said the goal
regarding citizen involvement
and community outreach is
going to be thoroughly dis-
cussed in a separate council
“We are looking at work-
shopping what steps will be
successful at gauging com-
munity sentiment,” he said.
“It is a very important issue.
We want to take a look at how
we can best do it, very specifi-
cally. Nothing yet is 100 per-
cent concrete. We want to boil
down our ideas.”
Council agreed to retain
the five overarching goals
from 2014, to strengthen City
finances, increase both com-
munity and private-sector
asset base, economic devel-
opment, improve connectiv-
ity and improve public out-
reach. The actions to support
these goals are what will be
changed to line up with the
suggestions put forward by
Council members.
Frye and Asson will work
together to craft the docu-
ment, which will include
objectives that are measurable
and tied to specific projects
and funding options. Their
draft will be reviewed by the
entire Council.
The City’s general fund is
projected to have a net loss
from operations of about
$17,322, which is signifi-
cantly less than the budgeted
loss of $270,856. Revenues
are expected to exceed budget
by about $214,585. The water
fund is expected to be $45,415
ahead of budget due to higher
revenue and lower overall
expenses. With increased rev-
enues and expenses, the street
fund balance is expected to
be approximately the same
as originally budgeted. The
sewer fund is projected to be
approximately $43,475 ahead
of budget.
Public works continues
to be busy with a number of
projects around town. With
the help of a grant to cover
half the cost, new restrooms
with showers and bike racks
will be built in Village Green
A number of improve-
ments along Hood Avenue are
slated: lighting and irrigation
switched from private land
owners to the City; asphalt
overlay of parking areas from
Cedar to Pine street; parking
improvements around Hood
Avenue and Ash Street; and
replacement of accessible
ramps prior to overlay.
There are several proposed
connectivity projects to create
new pathways around town,
which could be funded by
potential grants.
A significant project com-
ing to Sisters is the result of
a combined effort on the part
of EDCO, the City, ODOT,
Business Oregon, and airport
owner Benny Benson. The
airport infrastructure/street
improvement project, with
a price tag of $518,858, is
directly tied to the jobs being
created by ENERGYneering
Solutions, which is located
at the airport. Funding is par-
tially coming from grants by
the Infrastructure Opportunity
Fund and Infrastructure
Finance Authority (IFA),
which were awarded because
the project is bringing City
infrastructure to support
employment. The remainder
of the cost will be covered by
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