By Will Stone
Welcome back fans, to the pleasant village of Manzanita, Oregon, for the big game between the Manzanita City Council and the upstart Manzanita Citizens. On the line is whether the Council will continue running the ball with their plan for a brand-new City Hall with unknown expenses,
or whether the Citizens can block the play that threatens their own community taxes with their innovative, sustainable, million dollar less expensive Underhill remodel program.
To recap, the Council took the early lead by borrowing heavily to buy the overpriced Underhill property, forgoing upgrading old City Hall, citing a 400-year-old tsunami threat. Forgoing an independent appraisal Council paid the Seller’s price. Council after faking a remodel plan at Underhill, Council deftly switched to a new building plan. What a move! And the community is still footing the bill with more than $2,000,000 in interest and principal costs on the property so far. In another surprise move, Council ignored known environmental conditions on the Underhill site(Real Estate 101) and are being penalized with an oil tank cleanup bill.
Council ran another trick play, pulling funding from the water fund to the general fund to disguise the carrying costs of the Underhill property. But the Citizen team fought back, forcing a penalty flag on the Council practice, and halted the improper funding from the water fund.
Continuing their offensive assault, Council attempted a long scoring play to put the game out of reach by designing an outrageously expensive, overly large building and then went for a touchdown with a Bond measure. Citing low interest rates, they said taxpayers would barely notice the tax increase. But the Citizens did notice, swatting the Bond measure away with a 68% negative vote.
That’s when the Citizen team went on the offense, submitting a petition with 260 signatures to implore the Council to compare a new building with the Underhill remodeling plan side by side.
The Council merely snickered, faked nodding acknowledgement of the petition and barreled ahead with their new building plan. “We compared the costs between the options,” they said, never really doing so, and reached their preconceived conclusion that a new build is the way to go.
Oh, it’s been quite a game! Council has been playing as if they hold all the cards.
Now we’re in the fourth quarter and the big question is:
Where will the money come from?
• Will the Council put another bond measure to a vote of the Citizens?
• Has the Council regained the trust of enough of the 68% NO voters to pass higher taxes through a bond measure for a new City Hall?
Some say Council won’t take the chance of giving Citizens further input with a vote. Council could pull another trick play and approve a bank loan for a new building directly, handcuffing the General Fund for years to come?
Council could do this and thumb their nose at voter approval. It’s so tempting to spend other peoples’ money on pet projects.
It’s going to be quite a finish. Manzanita taxpayers may be forced to fund the most expensive City Hall for a town its size in Oregon without voter input. The big questions remain: Will taxpayers be forced to do so? Will the Council allow another vote?