Public Infrastructure Committee - Minutes

Thu., Jun. 1, 2017

Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan called the meeting to order at 4:30pm. Present were Mayor Drotzmann, Councilor Kirwan, City Manager Byron Smith, Roy Bicknell, Bill Schmittle, Chas Hutchins, Ron Sivey, and Lilly Alarcon-Strong. Councilor Smith was absent.

Staff Reports

Water Department- Water Superintendent Roy Bicknell stated the Water Department has been focusing on Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) to include updating the chlorine system on Well #2 and #4, and other smaller projects. The Meter Replacement Project has taken up most of their time but the process is going well. The new meters are on order, as well as other misc. items that may need to be replaced when the installation is underway. Installation bids are due back tomorrow and installation will be from July to October. Notices regarding the meter replacements have been sent out in bills and are being posted on the City’s website and facebook. Notices will also be given 24-48 hours prior to meters being replaced.

Recycled Water Department- Recycled Water Superintendent Bill Schmittle stated his department has also been busy working on solids handling, specifically drudging the lagoon. Anderson Perry is working on calculations regarding choosing mixing and heating equipment on digesters and installation of that equipment. Ground breaking should be by the end of the year with the completion date sometime in February 2018.

Chas stated Anderson Perry will publish the bid sometime in August.

City Manager Smith stated this will eliminate the continued use of the lagoon and will only be used as backup in case equipment is down. The City has also found farmers who are willing to take the material, which is the least expensive option.

Chas stated the material will be taken to the landfill until all permits have been received for farm use. This should take about one year.

Street Department- Street Superintendent Ron Sivey stated some 2016-17 improvement projects were unable to be completed as property owners did not want to participate. There are 2 more projects in the 2017-18 fiscal year that will also depend on property owners participation. An overlay bid for 10th Street, in front of Highland Hills Elementary, will be done sometime after school has started as well.

Due to the extreme winter weather, there have been a slight increased number of pot holes. Hermiston Avenue is a good example of a road that will need extensive work done in the near future.

Mayor Drotzmann asked if ODOT will be doing any paving on South 395.

Ron stated he has not seen or heard of a time line yet.

Street Department Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

Mark reviewed handouts given to the Committee and stated the City is trying to extensively evaluate all of the options available for a proposed 10 year CIP for the Street Department. The materials that will be reviewed are based on the feedback received from the Committee at the last meeting. Detailed costs and possible funding options are listed for each, including state grant opportunities; but, in order to accomplish all of the needed projects, additional revenue will still be needed.

The following are available options to supplement the needed revenues for City street improvements:

  • Franchise Fee Increase on all utilities.
  • $5.00 per month water/sewer Utility Fee Charge
  • $.05 per gallon Local-Option gas tax
  • Legislative Long-Term Revenue Package

Franchise fees

Mark gave information regarding franchise fees increases and stated Hermiston has some of the lowest franchise fees in Oregon, if the Committee and Council decide to raise these fees to be more in line with other Oregon cities franchise fees, it would make the most financial impact and less additional revenues would be needed.

$5.00 per month water/sewer utility fee charge

Mark gave information regarding charging this flat fee and stated although this fee would be the simplest to implement, it would also be unfair to City residents, as City residents would be the only ones being charged this fee and hundreds of non-city residents use city streets on a daily basis.

$.05 per gallon Local-Option gas tax

Mark gave information regarding charging a $.05 per gallon tax on all motor vehicle fuel sold within Hermiston and stated implementation of this proposal would be the most challenging, as, most likely, fuel retailers would organize campaigns against the issue and passing this tax could be difficult. Of all revenue options this tax would also have the least amount of produced revenue as well.

Legislative Long-Term Revenue Package

Mark gave information regarding the currently proposed legislative package that would generate revenue from a combination of sources, to include: vehicle registrations fees, vehicle title fees, tolls, and misc. other taxes. Mark stated although revenues received from this package would be very welcomed, it is uncertain if the State Legislature will approve this package as this type of funding is very rare.

There was some discussion regarding street improvements, signal installation, and pedestrian crossings throughout the City.

Mayor Drotzmann and Councilor Kirwan felt that because Hermiston’s franchise fees were the lowest in the region, it made the most sense to move forward with raising these fees. Councilor Kirwan stated he felt that the CIP list should also be prioritized on community wants before City needs.

There was no other business and the meeting was adjourned at 5:50pm.

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