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City council discussed funding for public art and how it will imact the City's budget at Monday's work session

PMG FILE PHOTO - The West Linn City Council met in a work session Monday, Oct. 7 and will meet again for a business meetting Monday, Oct. 14.As the City of West Linn moves ahead with redevelopment of the Willamette River waterfront area, it plans to host two more community open houses before the end of the year.

The City, in partnership with landowner Portland General Electric (PGE), hosted two community meetings to gather feedback on the development earlier this year.

City Planner Darren Wyss told the West Linn City Council during a waterfront planning update at a council work session Oct. 7 that those open houses would likely take place mid-November and early December.

Wyss explained to the council that planning staff is now looking at financing options for updating the infrastructure of the area. For the infrastructure to fit the city and community's vision, Wyss said the intersection of Highway 43 and Willamette Falls Drive needs to be realigned, possibly with a roundabout. Additionally, he mentioned a waterfront trail system and re-routing of sanitary sewer, water and storm pipes in the area as infrastructure updates.

To fund these infrastructure updates, Wyss and Community Development Director John Williams told the council the City could use system development charges (SDCs), grant funding, developer contributions and Urban Renewal (UR), a state program that allows communities to enhance urban developments funded by property tax increases.

"Staff has done some very initial estimates of UR potential in the Waterfront area and recommend it as a tool that should be seriously considered as a financing mechanism," a memo to the council states. "If the Council is interested in this tool and in exploring this option further, staff will schedule a more detailed discussion in the near future on how UR would work and how it would achieve Waterfront Plan objectives."

According to staff's project timeline, the City should be ready to adopt the comprehensive project plans and goals by the end of 2019, and the complete financing plan should be adopted by the end of 2020.

Arts funding

During Monday's work session, the council also discussed funding plans for art projects proposed by the newly created Arts and Culture Commission.

During a joint work session between the council and Arts and Culture Commission last month, the two groups began to outline a plan for how the City could fund public art projects.

Based on discussion at the September joint work session, the Arts and Culture Commission proposed amending city code to state that 1.5% of the funding designated for the 2018 GO Bond — for projects over $25,000 including street and utility projects — would go toward funding art.

Last week Public Works Director Lance Calvert pointed out to City Manager Eileen Stein and Library Director Doug Erickson, the staff liaison for the commission, that the proposal would mean over $210,000 for street, water, sewer and other utility projects would instead go toward public art in the biennial budget. Calvert said that this would be equivalent to creating a $1.10/ month fee on utility bills.

Based on this new information from Calvert, the Arts and Culture Commission revised its recommendation to have less impact on the budgets of necessary projects. Still, it's up to the council to adopt the original proposal, the new one, neither, or something completely different.

"Staff will implement whichever version or option is ultimately approved by the City Council, however staff has significant concerns about the effect of the new definition on the City's street and utility funds, as noted, if the version reviewed on September 3 is approved," staff's memo to the council states.

At the work session Erickson said that he wants Calvert to come talk to the council himself, since this decision could have a significant fiscal impact on his department. Stein said she would see if Calvert was available for the next council meeting, Oct. 14, when the council would possibly adopt a plan for arts funding.


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