City manager attempts to get things moving with animal shelter
The Newberg Animal Shelter has been a controversial subject for months after word surfaced that city officials were considering selling the facility. Newberg Animal Shelter Friends (NASF) continues to attend council meetings and has remained vigilant in their fight to save the shelter.
On Feb. 5, City Manager Joe Hannan sat before the council and made several requests in an attempt to move things forward and provide a base for everyone to work from that would assist in making clear decisions.
Hannan proposed three considerations: for the council to state its intent whether to sell the animal shelter or not, that the city recognize the value of the donations contributed by the NASF, and that a public hearing on the sale of the shelter be scheduled for March 19.
"I brought to you during the long range planning process the challenge about finding money to pay for communications," Hannan said. "A part of that discussion was to look at all kinds of options, whether it was raising revenues by looking at local option levies, different kinds of services or … any kind of assets that we have that we might sell. As part of that discussion there was the sale of the Butler property across the street that we have an appraisal on … and the other one was the portion of the property interest that the city has in the animal and potentially selling that. Tonight's goal is to deal with the potential sale of the (animal shelter) property, the right of first refusal and an opportunity for the council to make a statement about the shelter."
Under Oregon law if a city wants to sell property it must present a notice of the proposed sale that must state the time and place of a public hearing, a description of the property, the proposed uses for the property and reasons why the city considers it necessary or convenient to sell. There must also be an appraisal or other evidence of the market value of the property disclosed at the public hearing.
The reason for the request for a public meeting is that the city ordered an appraisal with the results coming in a few weeks. The set date of March 19 will provide enough time to gather all the information needed and present that at the meeting.
"I want to present you with all the information for you to be able to make a decision," Hannan said.
Concern emerged over what will be done with the money from the donations and fundraising efforts.
"We want to recognize that some of the money was donated to the city with (NASF's) intent that the money went to the shelter," said councilor Denise Bacon. The council held a lengthy discussion in the attempt to understand what would happen to the money if there was in fact a sale of the shelter. Over the years, NASF raised more than $560,000 funds to help build the shelter building and later to upgrade the facilities.
One question was, if the appraisal sets the value at less than what was put into the shelter, considering both the city and NASF donations, then why sell the property? On the other hand, if the value is much greater, that would require a decision by the council.
"You're going to be presented (with that information) and make that very difficult decision as what you are going to do with the funds," Hannan said.
"The city is in a tough spot and the (NASF) friends are in a tough spot. Now that they've stepped up, then are they going to have to compete? I think that is the question that Denise (Bacon) is asking," councilor Scott Essin said. "I think the city manager is doing the best that he can do here with all the parameters we've given him. I don't see that there is a lot of money here that we're going to pick up. I guess we won't know until we get the appraisal in. I don't know how I am going to vote on this because what we are doing is exactly what the animal friends asked."
The other motion was for the council to consider if the animal shelter should continue for that use and if it is to remain an animal shelter then would a buyer keep it as such. If not, then the building can be gutted and become a light industrial complex.
The lease, the NASF pays $1 per year on the 7,128 square foot building, lapses in June. NASF staff and volunteers operate the shelter, pay for the phone and Internet service, security system and medical expenses for the animals in their care.
The city provides utility and maintenance funds to assist in the operation of the shelter at around $9,043 per year. The city costs are in addition to the nearly $365,819 the city spend on the land, construction and utility improvements.
"There are three independent recommendations and you can vote on each one of those," Hannan said. "This is a city facility and like anything you are the ultimate stewards of that and you will make that tough decision ... So we don't have to guess, let's get the appraisal first … then we will see if there is money."