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by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Hillsboro city councilors have approved the construction of a new public works building at the corner of Northwest Evergreen and Northwest Sewell roads.Updating the 2020 Vision, building a Public Works building and fighting to preserve its share of economic development projects are among the new top priorities of the Hillsboro City Council.

The council set its priorities for 2013 during a daylong retreat on Saturday, Feb. 23. It was held on the second floor of Imbrie Hall at the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse. Despite the location, the meeting was all work. Mayor Jerry Willey and the rest of the council even turned down free samples during a quick tour of the distillery on the grounds of the historic property, which is part of the McMenamins’ collection of microbreweries.

The retreat gave council members an opportunity to reflect over the past year and describe their goals for 2013. Willey opened the meeting by listing major accomplishments in 2012. They included recruiting the Hillsboro Hops Single-A baseball team, Intel’s announcement that it will build a second $3 billion manufacturing facility on its Ronler Acres campus and the city qualifying as a finalist in the Bloomberg Mayors’ Challenge for innovation in local governments.

The city is in the running to win either $5 million or $1 million to help build a series of “GoPoint” mobility hubs around town to help residents easily access transportation alternatives. The council named the project one of its new priorities and agreed to proceed with it even if it does not win a cash prize.

“Hillsboro is a city where we get to ‘yes,’” Willey said.

With the 2020 Vision scheduled to be completed in seven years, the council has already approved the drafting of a 2035 Vision. Demographic data is currently being collected to create a profile of the city, and residents are scheduled to be surveyed about their hopes for the future later this year.

The state’s Gain Share program rebates 50 percent of the additional income taxes generated by new jobs, to local governments that waived their property taxes to encourage those jobs. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Portland area state Sen. Ginny Burdick have said the share is too high. The council prioritized fighting to keep it at 50 percent during the 2013 Oregon Legislature.

The council approved the construction of a new $12 million public works building last month. It will be constructed on 13 acres of city-owned land at the northeast corner of Northwest Evergreen Road and Northwest Sewell Road. It will be financed with $6 million in bonds and funds from the departments scheduled to use it, including sewer, surface water management and transportation.

Other priorities supported by a majority of the seven-member council included securing a secondary water supply for the next 50 years, pursuing the previously authorized Westside Transportation Study, developing the North Hillsboro Industrial Area and seeking more funding for public schools and libraries.

Increasing K-12 school funding was a top priority for Councilor Steve Callaway, the principal of Tobias Elementary School. He repeatedly stressed the importance of having a good school system, noting that the Hillsboro School District is facing budget cuts again this year. Willey agreed, arguing that families frequently choose to live in the cities with the best schools.

Megan Braze, the newest member of the council, said she was committed to increasing public involvement in city government, including more attendance at council meetings. Braze was elected to the council in November as a write-in candidate after no one filed to fill the seat being vacated by Councilor Nenice Andrews.

The only citizen who attended the retreat agreed. Dan Bloom, who frequently attends council meetings, lamented that more members of the public were not present, even though the retreat had been announced on the city’s website.

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