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City attorney Barbara Jacobson's contract is extended and direction is provided on water rates

The final Wilsonville City Council work session and meeting of the year were unusually busy.

Throughout the evening of Monday, Dec. 16, the Council approved five resolutions and one ordinance and provided staff direction on issues such as water rates and the potential for Wilsonville to take ownership over a sister city program.

Here's a roundup of the most notable actions from the meeting:

Attorney contract renewed

From disputes with Wilsonville Subaru, citizens opposing Basalt Creek Industrial Area planning, and the Oregon Department of Aviation, City Attorney Barbara Jacobson and the City's legal staff have had their hands full in the past year.

And after making it clear they had been happy with the work Jacobson has done, the Council agreed to raise her salary from $168,640 to $176,228 for the upcoming year starting Dec. 1. The Council reviews the lead attorney's salary annually.

"It's quite sobering to stop and to page through all that information. It's hard to remember how many pieces of legal guidance and document preparation and negotiation and occasionally actual litigation that arise in a city the size of Wilsonville," Mayor Tim Knapp said. "We have benefited over a period of time by very professional, very thoughtful and well considered guidance by our legal department and Ms. Jacobson."

Council President Kristin Akervall added: "The professionalism and the experience she brings to her role serves the city well."

Sister city

The City is considering whether to take ownership of the Wilsonville Sister City Association, which organizes Wilsonville's sister city relationship with Kitakata, Japan.

The association has been hamstrung by a lack of resources and volunteers in recent years and hopes City absorption

will lead to more funding and a better program.

According to a draft of the bylaws for the city-run group, the organization would be overseen by a seven-member board appointed by the council.

Knapp said at the work session that the Kitakata side of the relationship has more support from the business community than Wilsonville's, which is why it provides more amenities for visitors. And Knapp would like the future board to reach out to the business community for support.

"It's striking how robustly their business community supports this operation. The communications I got made it clear that the business community there feels like if their kids are going to be successful in the world as they grow up, they need to have a perspective of other societies and other countries and that America is certainly high on that list and that they see this as an education obligation that they have to their children," said Knapp, who has visited Kitakata. "I'm not aware of any effort (in Wilsonville) to gauge the broader business community or to find backing of that type."

City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said staff involvement could free up the board to conduct broader efforts to reach out to the community.

Knapp also expressed a preference for the sister city board to have term limits so that new people have a chance to join. For many years the association has been run by a small group of the same volunteers.

"I think it's important that we develop some kind of a structure that allows an evolution of the guidance of the organization to include new people to come along," he said. "I'm worried that without some sort of defined terms that may not hold true."

Cosgrove said the board's budget would likely fluctuate from year-to-year depending on whether Wilsonville or Kitakata is that year's host city. The association has spent about $3,900 in 2019.

The council will decide whether to absorb the organization at a later date.

Water rates

Of the three options presented by City staff regarding the formula for a water rate update, the council chose the option that would penalize those who use more water than average and place less of a burden on multifamily housing residents who don't use much.

The option the council provided direction on would mean a 19% decrease in rates for residential users with low water use and an 11% increase for residential users who use a relatively large amount of water. And while the change would mean between a 4% increase and a 5% decrease for multifamily home users, two other options considered would have increased rates for low usage multifamily residents by as much as 42%. One option presented by staff would have increased low usage commercial rates by as much as 51% and low usage industrial rates by as much as 157%.

The preferred update would maintain the City's philosophy of placing more of a burden on high water users rather than spreading that extra cost more evenly to all users.

"To me, I really don't want to have to explain to someone why their base fee went up 150% or 47% when they're using the same amount of water," Knapp said.

He added: "I also think that having a structure in which higher usage is evident in higher bills as your usage goes up is easy to understand and does help incentivize people to use less water."

Councilor Joann Linville agreed.

"It's the one option where it allows our citizens to have some control over what they pay, which I think is a good thing. Even if you're in a multifamily situation, there's some incentive for you to conserve," she said.

A resolution formalizing the change will be presented at a later date.

Building codes

As part of a three-pronged package of required updates to the City's building code, the most notable change is the addition of security fencing, video monitoring or security guards for the builders of structures that are at least four stories high, 40 feet tall, combustible and with adjacent property nearby. T

he need for such a policy came to the fore after an under-construction Polygon Homes condominium complex that did not have security fencing burned to the ground — and took adjacent homes with it — in March.

City staff have scrambled in recent weeks to react to a change in Oregon State Building Code policy that stipulated the state will no longer regulate unoccupied buildings. And it passed two resolutions and an ordinance to adjust to the change.

"It does feel that being able to include this section (security for buildings under construction) is a silver lining in being thrown a tremendous amount of work here," Akervall said.

Recycling

The Council also approved a resolution that will decrease the City and Republic Services recycling surcharge from $2.50 to $1.25 and programs for food scraps collection, bulky waste pickup for seniors and ADA customers, styrofoam collection and a flourescent tubes/ batteries mail-back service for commercial and industrial users.


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